medical school

Blog

Depression and Medical School


2 Comments

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness that is predominantly associated with the following symptoms: low mood, lack of energy and loss of enjoyment in our usual activities. Student doctors and practicing doctors can say these core symptoms of low mood, anergy and anhedonia quicker than saying pseudopseduohypoparathyroidism. But identifying these symptoms within oneself is a much slower process.

Depression during medical school is not a new phenomenon, and despite our understanding of mental health is improving, many student doctors are struggling daily with depression. There are various factors during medical school that can contribute to ill mental health:

  • Lack of sleep due to a busy schedule.
  • High expectations – from your yourself, medical school, parents, family friends, etc.
  • Financial strain – the accumulation of student loans, balancing paid work and studies, etc.
  • Emotional strain – wanting to provide the best care you can to patients.
  • Personal responsibilities and commitments – being a parent, friendship commitments, relationship commitments, carer duties, etc.
  • The intensity of constant assessments, persistent appraisals, exam after exam, etc.
  • Unfortunately some environments have a stench of over-competitiveness, over-compensation, intimidation, etc.
  • A new environment, new city, new country, new friends, etc. – medical school may be the first big change you have experienced in life so far.

 

So how can we lighten the load?

Discussing mental health is often thought of as taboo, both in the medical profession and public; therefore to speak of it, requires courage and encouragement (having both simultaneously is not easy).

So how can we lighten the load? How can we start healthy habits that lead to a healthy lifestyle?

At Medics’ Inn we do not claim to be psychiatrists, but we are experts in seeking help! That is what we urge you all to do.

If you are struggling with your work load…seek help.

If you are experiencing financial strain…seek help.

If you are second guessing a career in medicine…seek help.

If you are having difficulty balancing your responsibilities…seek help.

If you feel sad and lonely…seek help.

Seek help from those around you, your supervisor, your tutor, your personal GP/doctor, etc.

Sometimes, because we do not want to ‘bother’ anyone with our issues, we dig ourselves into a hole. But the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to come out of that hole.

 

Photo Credit: PhotoPin

 

Medics’ Inn

Blog

Poem: At the Forefront


No Comments

At the forefront

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Say that to the oncology patients, the pain in their eyes, wishing not to remain any longer

My heart tremors as I walk down the corridor

The palpitations of my index fingers are too persistent to ignore

My trachea collapses every time my beeper goes off

I sweat and sweat, I try to replenish it with water, but it’s not enough

Hours on the ward seem to be long days that make me weary

I think I’ve caught what the patient was diagnosed with in bed three

Although I’m told not to, I self-diagnose

Lists of symptoms and signs I compose:

  • Fears of not being able to supply their demand
  • Suffocating my thoughts with predictions and plans
  • My imagination runs wild as I begin to contemplate
  • Mistakes and devastating actions I could make
  • That leaves someone who trusted me in pain
  • Scribbling my signature at the bottom of their records – shame
  • Blood stained resume no longer fit for practise

(A disgrace to the Medical Council, incompetent and useless)

  • These notions come to greet me every moment of the day
  • They’re absent at breakfast, present at lunch, occasionally there at dinner, they never go away
  • Making me question my ability and sanity in this field
  • I’m no longer in control of how I feel

But since I’ve started sharing the content of my mind

Something has been fertilised inside

Teamwork introduced me to ‘Mechanism to cope’

These thoughts of the day seem to be replaced with hope

Lately I’ve befriended a new angle of view

It is a subtle friendship because those that know about it are few

The budding beginnings bring about brand new brainwaves

Constantly contemplating and constructing confident considerations which are crucial

I think I’ve come to understand that I’m not the superhero the world has been waiting for

This fight isn’t over; battles are being won every day but we all remain in war

Nevertheless it is the daily combat that keeps things ticking

The persistent resistance against invasion

The inconsistent resilience that makes us human

And the hope of tomorrow that keeps us going

 

 

 

This poem is titled ‘At the forefront’ because it expresses the thoughts of a doctor who is struggling with the harsh uncontrolled reality of death and disease. They are constantly faced with patients who look to them for help to overcome their terrible disease they battle. At first it is all too much for Doctor A, the mental and emotional problems are presenting themselves physically, or so he believes. This portrays the first big idea in Whole Person Care, ‘Illness and its remedies lie at many levels within a system’; although the pathology can be explained through the activity of adrenaline in the body there is an emotional level that suggests a the trigger for the release of adrenaline, it is more likely that clinical signs have emotional factors are their trigger. This also addresses idea seven, “We can learn from different philosophies of health.”; the psychobiological relationship presented by Doctor Amid shows that his mental health affected his physical health, hence the physical manifestations of his worries. Integrative Medicine is employed by many practitioners to focus on the patient as a whole and to make use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches; if Dr Amid presented his physical symptoms to a fellow doctor it would be easy for his colleague to be absent-minded towards Dr Amid’s emotional symptoms and only treat the physical issue.

He comes to a point where he is emotional attached to the patients he cares for. In order for a practitioner to relate to their patient they must be able to empathise, it should be something that is constantly applied throughout a consultation. Although, being human means a doctor is often subject to emotion, empathy can consume a doctor, leaving them in a dysfunctional state. “…I think I’ve caught what the patient was diagnosed with in bed three. Although I’m told not to, I self-diagnose. Lists of symptoms and signs I compose…”. But this is something that we can all identify with, when we’re too attached to a vulnerable person we become we bear their burdens as if we were them. Empathy should be a costume doctors wear when needed, but in order to make rational decisions this costume must be taken off, it is then put on again when appropriate.

‘…Effective relationships are central to effective care…’ is the fourth Big idea, kit wasn’t until Dr Amid shared his fears and used the support system around him that he was able be released from his prison of negative thoughts. It was through teamwork that he was able to know about these mechanisms.“…But since I’ve started sharing the content of my mind. Something has been fertilised inside. Teamwork introduced me to MOC ‘Mechanism to cope’. These thoughts of the day seems to be replaced with hope. Lately I’ve befriended a new angle of view…”. The effective relationship between Dr Amid and his colleagues lead him to effective care.

The poem ends with Dr Amids new thinking; it is evident that the new technique adopted by him has created resilience. This ending does not paint a safe, comfortable and nice image of life as a doctor but accepts the reality that death is painful and despite human intervention, is inevitable. “…The inconsistent resilience that makes us human…” this shows that Dr Amid is still on a journey, like many us this journey may last for a lifetime. In practise resilience can be hard to define because people are different therefore their resilience will manifest differently; there can be no time allocation, characteristics criteria, physical duties or a check list to be ticked off. Resilience in intrinsic, it is a characteristic that can only be activated by yourself, which confirms the sixth Big Idea ‘…Self-care helps create resilient practitioners..’.

Dr Amid is a fictional character that represents the thoughts and worries of medical students and doctors.

 

Photo Credit: PhotoPin

Blog

Medical School Can Be Tuff


No Comments

Medicine is similar to other professions is many ways, but it is also different from other professions in many more ways. The hustle of medical school is like no other undergraduate course. As well as studying for a degree, you have begun your training for the career. Your career starts now.

You have now adopted a culture where juggling numerous extracurricular activities is the norm; you turn down more social events than you’d like; your term/semester begins with, is interrupted by or end with 1-3 assessments or exams! The list goes on. Only other medical students/student doctors understand this way of life. Although your family and friends are very proud of you, there is an air of disappointment. Even though you try to explain the structure of your course, the emotional demands, the time constraints, your goals and aspiration, “they just don’t get it”.

But remember you are not alone on this journey, there are hundreds of students just like you in the country, and there are thousands of students around the world in your position (some worse off). Stay true to your convictions and try to maintain a healthy balance of things. Know your priorities. Remember, medical school is but for a season; how you handle medical school is an indicator of how you will handle life as a doctor.

Medics’ Inn

Blog

Medical Student Experience: Enthusiasm


No Comments

Photo credit: PhotoPin

I was given the opportunity to be the surgeon’s assistant for a left inguinal hernia repair procedure. I felt honoured because I had no previous experience with the surgeon but nevertheless gave me this opportunity. This opportunity sowed a seed, I have discovered my interest in surgery and as I have progressed through the Junior Medicine and Surgery unit I have seen this interest develop even more. This is one of the few occasions since the beginning of my clinical placement that I have more than a mere medical student but part of the medical team.

Although this opportunity was given to me by a senior surgeon, I had to enthusiastically seek out this opportunity and make myself available. Enthusiasm is most certainly a tool that every medical student should possess, as well as a stethoscope.

I hope to explore this interest even more and seek such opportunities as I progress through the medical programme.

 

Anonymous, 3rd Year Student Doctor

 

 

Photo credit: PhotoPin
Blog

Medical School:Have A Kit Kat…Take A Break!


No Comments

In medical school, you adopt the ‘work hard’ culture, but it is equally important to remember the culture of relaxation. Sometimes, the moment you sit still, you feel a sense of guilt for not doing ‘something’. The truth is, in Medical School, there will always be ‘something’ for you to do. There is always work to do; this could be revision for an up-coming exam, research for a written assignment, follow-up work in the lab, staying after working-hours to practise a particular clinical skill, spending some time in theatre, preparing for your next tutorial/lecture/lab project – these demands do not include the extra-curricular activities you have picked up along the way or paid work. Sports, dance classes, creative workshops or conferences that require the submission of a paper/abstract/poster, etc. The list is endless. The list will continue to be endless. So it is import to relax and truly switch off. Put to one side the daily, weekly and monthly demands of medicine for a moment and just relax.

Have a break. Enjoy the break.

 

Photo Credit: Photo Pin

Medics’ Inn

Blog

My Clinical Experience So Far


No Comments

I really enjoyed the experience of working in a clinical environment. I was excited because it felt unreal, I’d fought hard to get into medical school and I was potentially standing in the environment I would be working in in the near future. It gave me that extra encouragement from time to time when I doubted if being a doctor is the right profession for me. A lot of the time it did make me upset, I spoke to a lot of people who suffered with chronic illnesses and the description of their physical and emotional pain made me feel down. A lot of what I thought about medicine came from the media; there are also times when the doctor has to tell family members of their recent loss. Speaking to someone who describes their chronic pain really hits home how emotionally draining this profession will be and medical school can be. In a way it has taken me from childhood to adulthood, my faith also. There is so much pain and suffering in the world, it reinforces my belief that God really has a plan.

Photo Credit: PhotoPin

Anonymous

Year 1 Student Doctor

Blog

Medical Student Vs Student Doctor


No Comments

Which do you prefer: Medical Student Vs Student Doctor?

How do you introduce yourself to patients and other doctors?

Does it really make a difference? Aren’t they the same thing?

We like – Student Doctor. It easily communicates to patients what profession you are training for. And it also gives you a subtle reminder:

Yes, I am training towards being a doctor, diagnosis diseases, treating diseases, prescribing drugs and caring for my patients.

Yes, I have already obtained medical knowledge and skills that will be of help the care of patients.

Yes, I am a work in progress, I do not know it all and I do not need to know it all at this stage, even if it were possible.

 

So, Medics’ Inn likes the term ‘Student Doctor’.

What do you think?

Medics’ Inn

Blog

Starting Clinical Placements – What to know


2 Comments

Here are 3 things you should know before you venture into the practical world of clinical medicine. If you’re already on the wards/theatres/etc., it’s not too late – this will still help!

  1. You are a valuable member of the team! It’s easy to feel insignificant on a busy ward, ward round, clinic or theatre. But remember you are a valuable member of the team! With this thought at the back of your mind, stir up the courage to approach a member of staff (it doesn’t always have to be a doctor) and let them know who you are and what you want to do. E.g. “Hello, My name is Leo/Liz, I am a medical student in my third year. I will be spending the morning with the doctors and learning on the cardiology ward round. How can I help and get stuck in?” You will be pleasantly surprised with the responses you will receive.

 

  1. Be early, not on time, but early. Getting to your location 10-15 minutes early keeps you calm and prepared. You’ll also notice that, just because you arrived several minutes earlier, you will have greater learning opportunities.

 

  1. Remember it is a learning process; you are in a safe and perfect environment to learn from highly skilled professionals and kind patients. You will not be an expert at lumbar punctures, diagnosing aortic stenosis, taking a history or examining a patient on the first day! These are skills you will learn and continue to master throughout medical school and even after you start working as a doctor. Do not be too hard on yourself, enjoy it.

Medics’ Inn

Blog

Accommodation Accommodation Accommodation


No Comments

You may find that throughout medical school, you may live in more than 10 different locations over your 4-6 years of medical study. This may be because the location of each medical speciality placement vary and require students to move around. Or, it could just be part of the university or college experience, as your friendship groups change, so does your home! This can sometimes be a daunting, overwhelming, lonely or simply annoying experience. Other than the practical issues of landlords, deposits, contracts and finances, here are a few suggestions to make your experience more pleasurable:

  1. When possible, have a look at what the accommodation of the coming year anticipates. Be aware of the location (town/city), travelling options and costs, onsite facilities, duration of accommodation stay, local attractions (restaurants, supermarkets/food stores, museums, etc). Knowing what to expect can help!
  2. Bring along 2-3 personal items that can transform a bland, impersonal, lonely room to your personal resting place, i.e. photographs, posters, cds/dvds, dumbbells, cushion, bedroom gown/house coat, etc
  3. New places often bring an unfamiliar scent, which are not always pleasant! Candles are a great tool for candle lovers, otherwise a plug-in air freshener will do. For those interested in candles, Yankee Candles are amazing but with a student budget, these may be too costly – so why not make your own!? Here is a link to a DIY candle tutorial you may find helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U29HxuJQie0
  4. Remember it’s a phase. The hustle of medical school is just a phase, and this includes the hassle of moving from accommodation to accommodation. Also use this opportunity to get to know your new neighbours and environment!