The 20 Things Med School Taught Me

Medical School is an experience unparalled with no other.

Having made it through to the other side, I can now look back without PTSD fondly on those 6 crazy years of my life and offer 20 anecdotal (but painfully true) steep learning curves I encountered during my training as a medical student.
And so, in no particular order:

  1. Life is a competition. And then, there’s Medicine.
  2. Minced meat will never hold the same appeal after watching Vascular Surgeons literally hack and saw through the necrotic and gangrenous leg of an obese diabetic patient.

  3. The smell of formaldehyde is a strange aphrodisiac for my stomach. Which growled at the most inopportune moments in anatomy lessons on cadavers.

  4. Anatomy is actually kind of important.

  5. Scratch that, Anatomy is extremely important and oh my gosh why didn’t I pay more attention to the Gray’s Anatomy textbook because even though I don’t want to be a surgeon, it might have been useful to recall the structures making up the shoulder joint last week when my boss, a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, asked me to draw a diagram to help a patient understand impingement syndrome. #blagasthoughyourprofessionallifedependsonit

  6. Calling a Consultant Surgeon ‘Doctor’ is tantamount to placement suicide. One risks being verbally burned and scorned for the rest of the surgical attachment.

  7. Carrying less than two black pens on a medical ward round is foolish. If the pens run out before the 5-hour round is done, it’s game over.

  8. Histology. Why?

  9. Sleep is something other people do.

  10. Coffee is bae.

  11. Spotting Capgras syndrome in real life is kray.

  12. The biblical scripture ‘Those who are first shall be last and those who are last shall be first’ does not apply to the Foundation School application system.

  13. Second tier friends will be the first to bow out of your life after you call to re-schedule a coffee date for the 6th time due to endless revision. Real friends bring the coffee straight to your lair to check you’re still alive and haven’t lost the plot.

  14. Friends that ask to meet up in the month prior to end of year exams aren’t loyal.

  15. You know who else isn’t loyal? That professor that smiles in your face and vehemently denies that a certain topic is coming up in Finals. It WILL come up. Repeatedly. And you will rue the day you let your guard down and decided to trust people.

  16. Stress-related ulcers are part and parcel of exam season.

  17. Self-diagnosing with the very things you are studying is also part and parcel of exam season. Hence exacerbating aforementioned stress ulcers.

  18. Friendships forged during the 18-hour days of revision preparation for the fiery hell that is the Final year OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) are lifelong. They have seen you wear the same set of clothes for 4 days straight, put up with undignified poking and prodding as you manipulate their limbs for physical examinations. They have witnessed the slow decline of your mental health during this period and are still willing to be friends. They are keepers.

  19. My brain is like an magician’s top hat. Instead of rabbits, it spews forth amazing little tibits of medical information that I don’t even remember learning. #learningbyosmosis?

  20. The amount of pride I saw radiating from my parents face on graduation day made every last bump on the Medical School ride worth it!


I would love to hear from you! Comment below with your own steep learning curves from University / College.

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#DrReenAbroad

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