So it’s been a day and I can’t keep my fingers off the keyboard. Looks like I’ve contracted an acute bout of Blogacythaemia- too much blogging excitement in my bloodstream.
I’m currently in my study period for my upcoming exams in a couple of weeks time. And every study period, as most students know (work with me here), is brimming over with thoughts that go something like this…
I’m actually screwed.
I wonder if we’re in the Matrix.
I’m going to have a meltdown. I’ll never be able to learn all this on time.
Why did I do nothing all year?
In fact… why did I do everything all year EXCEPT my degree?
I am a shameful person. Ooh chocolate.
If I suck my tummy in, it reduces by about 30%. If I really go for it though… ok no. Can’t breathe.
I’ve just taken a four day revision break. Maybe I should embark upon some revision.
Perhaps not to that extent, but that’s the picture. I know for sure, that every exam period… and this might well just be me- I go into massive psychoanalysis mode. Instead of focusing on the work in question, I often focus on whether I really deserve to pass, have I done enough, am I worthy of all this? The reason I doubt myself is because of a long-held philosophy. Hard work gets results. And I have a complex that I don’t work hard enough for the university I attend. It’s been brought on greatly by the fact that I feel as though I’m always surrounded by people who work harder than I do. And I only deserve the results I work for. So I address this complex by thinking about it and trying to justify it to myself. Perhaps I ought to just have a lot more confidence in my ability. At this point in time, that confidence isn’t there. So I compensate. By thinking.
Some would argue that all this contemplation is just ridiculous. Just do the work in front of you. Yes, yes, yes! I wish I could. I wish that were me… but no. I’m a thinker, and this is what thinkers do. And when we’ve finished thinking, our minds are in a good place to focus on the task at hand.
So here it is.
Psychoanalysis 1: First Year
First year Medicine was a blur. In my first term, I did next to no work, too preoccupied with how much blackcurrant squash it would take to really mask the taste of vodka. I paid for that mistake when my results came out in January. Straight A* girl messed up big time. It didn’t help that I was particularly unhappy at university during this time- I missed home, the pressure to fit in was huge, and I hadn’t found my real niche at uni yet. Of course- that’s a post for another day. I didn’t even know what my degree really required. It was only around about Easter that I realised what I needed to do to get by. I call it ‘Memorise a load of crap you don’t quite understand and then regurgitate it appropriately back onto paper, and blur the handwriting for the bits you forget’.
For pre-clinical Medicine, as far as I knew it- very little skill or application was required. Just memory. But memorising that kind of volume takes WORK and DEDICATION. So I learnt that it was best to write up the accumulating pile of lectures as time went on and then spend weeks learning it until you’re practically fluent the day before the exam.
Psychoanalysis 2: Second Year
Second year was a really tough year. The volume went up, big time. But a few things changed. The first was that I knew what I was doing this time around. Medicine wasn’t going to win. And the second was that I was so much more settled. I didn’t really care about vodka anymore (I discovered the delights of Gin, may I add) and was more preoccupied with extra curricular activities and my course. In my second year, I was on an incredible committee for our University’s Hindu Society. It most certainly stands out as the best thing I’ve done since coming to uni. And being the kind of girl who loves being busy- I thrived under that pressure. So I wrote up those lectures like a madwoman- even if I came home at 11pm at night. That Easter, I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before.
And so my third year began. This year was a completely different ball game because for the first time, we were on placement. I spent two terms seeing patients in different hospitals. I still carried on doing as much as I could outside of Medicine to maintain my livelihood. And so, blog dearest, I thought I would share with you the Gowri Nair Psychoanalysis of Third Year Medicine.
Psychoanalysis 3: Third Year
1. Have I done enough work to pass these exams?
No. I haven’t. Because there is never such a thing as doing enough work. Medics as a species, especially Birmingham ones have it written in there genes to work hard (and sometimes be twats about it too.) But I wrote up those lectures didn’t I? Sure, I didn’t put in the hours of slavery that I did last year- but the work was more proportional to the year in question. I tell myself maybe I should have worked harder. But should I? Does that make me happy?
2. What was really required of me this year?
Working through those lectures. Attending hospital every day. Going to my teaching. Being proactive- seeing patients in my own time. I went to hospital most days. I skipped teaching sometimes. In my first hospital, my teaching was so good that I didn’t even need to be proactive. My second placement on the other hand, was awful. Completely crap in all the ways you can imagine. Bad hospital, bad teaching, and I didn’t really get on with the people who I was put with because we all had such different personalities. It wasn’t great. But I was more proactive. I found patients, I found teaching, I found a Foundation Year doctor who really inspired me… because there are still diamonds to be found in situations you perceive to be horrific. But I can’t change what I’ve done now, so I may as well be happy with it.
3. What do I want from my university life?
I want to be heavily involved in as much as I can. I want to make friends for life. I want to experience living away from my family and have the independence of living alone, but not the full responsibility of working. I want to learn what it takes to become a doctor. And I want to maintain what I have to eventually become a good one.
My degree is too difficult for me to put all my energy into being at the top, when in all honesty, I’m happy to put in enough, to be average. Currently, I stand a little below average. Of course, it would be incredible to do really well, but what will it gain me right now? And I hear medics say ‘All I want to do is pass’, when I know that isn’t true- you want to smash it and good for you. Do what makes you happy. But me? Seriously. All I want to do is pass. In my first year, I remember a doctor once saying “Once you’re in Medicine, that’s the worst bit over. Just stay under the radar until it’s done”. Sweet. Time to be invisible.
4. Am I even a good medical student?
I am, by no means whatsoever, the hardest worker anymore. I just do what I need to get by. I have never aimed to be at the top because being an amazing medical student has never mattered to me. What matters to me is that I become an amazing doctor. I have told myself that all knowledge and clinical skills are accumulated over time. But the manner I maintain with patients, my communication skills, my empathy, my desire to care for people… and my relative interest in science are the qualities I am relying on to set me apart from other people. Not my knowledge of antibiotic classes or the clotting cascade. For me, that’s enough.
5. So what, you utter fool, have you even gained from your psychoanalysis?
I really need to push past the thoughts of whether I’m in the matrix or not, in order to get through. But hopefully, the work I’ve done will be enough for me to get by this year. I’ve had a great year- it has been my happiest and most stable time at university and I thank God so much for that. The pressure has kicked in now. it’s a completely different ball game to the first two years of Medicine but with the work I’ve done, a smile and a pinch of positivity…
…And some hope
…Throw in a prayer
…And a solid cram right before the end of it…
Love & hugs & all the smiles