My Fears for Medical School: An Update

Today, I officially finished my first year of medical school! I have my results and, miraculously, I passed.*

*This may not seem as amazing to you as it does to me but trust me, it’s a miracle.

Nine months ago I wrote a post about my fears for medical school. Today I revisited the rabbit hole. Reading over those ramblings as a slightly more experienced version of myself, I found myself answering the questions I had back then and realising how much, but also how little, has changed.

On one hand, I now (hopefully) know a bit more about medical-y stuff, and can recite many long confusing words. But on the other, arguably more important hand, I still feel like that naive, unprepared teenager embarking on a career path that may not be right for me, or I may not be right for.

Either way, I thought it’d be interesting to revisit those fears I had and see to what degree they still stand.

I won’t be able to keep up academically

So, I wasn’t the hardest worker this year. I didn’t follow my own advice from the first term. I didn’t make those fateful flashcards until the day before the exams. My philosophy throughout this year has been:

“Do enough work to pass but don’t do too much that you stop having fun”.

I implore anyone embarking on a medical degree, do not follow this advice. Of course, you want to have fun (it’s your first year of university, do some stuff you’ll regret or you’ll regret not doing the regretful stuff) but save yourself the nerve-wracking results days by working hard enough to feel confident in yourself. There were very few exams where I felt 100% sure I’d passed, which is a gross feeling.

Overall though, I did keep up academically. A massive part of settling into medical school is getting a little bit used to adequacy. I was comfortable with that so my academic scores were only a small worry for me.

I’m not compassionate enough to want to touch someone’s poo

Still not. Luckily, I haven’t had to do any of that this year and I probably won’t next year either. I don’t think this fear was about my compassion, more about me not wanting to do slightly disgusting things. Maybe I’ll re-update on this in a couple of years.

I won’t make any friends

Hm…this is a difficult one. The short answer is that, of course, I made friends. Making friends at university was not the problem, it was making the right friends and then keeping them. This meant I had to do a bit of chop-and-changing with my friendships, not an easy feat. It also meant changing my expectations of what friendships are. At medical school, you need three different types of friends. Firstly, you need friends that will support you through some undoubtedly hard situations. Secondly, you need friends that inspire you to do work and have passion for the degree. And thirdly, you need friends who allow you to just have fun and blow off the steam amounting from the continual high stress levels. And before anyone starts thinking that’s a lot of criteria, these people will almost always not be the same people. No one person can tick every single box. And that’s fine! You won’t be able to either. Once I’d realised that my friends didn’t have to be perfect for all occasions, I found it a lot easier making and maintaining meaningful friendships.

I won’t get over my needle phobia

I still haven’t got over this. But, I can now watch injections being administered without feeling faint and I actively took part in a dissection module, where (unsurprisingly) I had to do a lot of cutting of skin. Maybe it would be different on a live person but it still felt like an accomplishment. Let’s just ignore the fact that I threw up after having my blood taken, shall we?

I won’t enjoy it

I didn’t enjoy all of it. Some of it was boring, some of it was too difficult and some of it was sad. But simultaneously, some of it was inspiring, some of it was interesting and most of it was fun.

As predicted, I loved some of the modules and hated others. There was rarely an in-between. But overall, I have enjoyed my first year. I wouldn’t have been able to cope without my friends, regardless of whether I am still friends with them today. Avocados also made a big difference.

So there we go. First year done and dusted. Passed and polished. Scraped and survived.

Ps. Anyone in the UK, go vote!!!!!

hey! i'm an 21 year old medical student (currently intercalating in anthropology) living it up in east london! i spend my spare time playing dixie chicks on guitar (badly), attempting to do yoga and turning it up at my church.

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