Finallystartingmedicine’s Blog

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The Secret Diary of Finallystartingmedicine

     It’s been an eventful week, probably too much to fit into a single blog entry, but I’ll start typing and see where it takes me.  So I’ve done the laborious Senior First Aid certificate with the Red Cross.  It was two days and for the most part very easy and required a great deal of common sense.  Anyone worried about not passing shouldn’t.  The questions were easy with the instructor providing most of the answers he could before we sat it.


     The instructor I had was enthusiastic and conjured up an interesting antidote with every skill he discussed.  He was a curious sort of guy though, a police officer that had witnessed all sorts of happenings that had scared him.  He is unable to work as he’s suffering post traumatic stress and had this forced laugh that came out surprisingly often.  Have you heard the expression ‘through gritted teeth?’  That was how he laughed. 


     He told us quite openly that he does these courses as part of his rehabilitation, to be more social.  And he behaved so strangely sometimes!  Often he would peer out the door if someone walked past the building on the street and crane his neck to see who it was.  A sudden soft noise from somewhere outside and he would spring to a sort of fearful attention.  My overly active imagination came up with a plethora of plausible scenarios that had so affected him from his time in active police service, but nothing I could dream up satisfied the curious behaviour I witnessed.  He didn’t give away what had happened but he mentioned a couple of things that surely would’ve given me pause for contemplation.  He mentioned a good friend (and fellow officer) of his tried to kill herself swallowing arsenic while he said he saw another friend killed due to being shot while on the job.  Through the enthusiasm he had for first aid and the forced laugh you could see clearly that he was suffering from depression and it was sad to see.  I have to admit I liked him and I think the others doing the course did too, but I felt very sorry for him and I wished there was something I could’ve done to help him.


     Moving on, I didn’t get the job that I discussed in my last blog (since I didn’t get it I’ll reveal it was at the Red Cross Blood Collection Service).  The interview went really well as it was much like the Uni Medicine entry interview and I was well prepared.  I was confident that I had represented myself well and told myself that if I didn’t get it that it would go to a better candidate and shouldn’t feel disappointed.  They told me of the seven that interviewed they considered three and I was one of those, but ultimately it went against me as I was an interstate applicant.  I’m disappointed as it would’ve been perfect to manage on the side while studying medicine, but I’ll start looking again and make the most of it.


     Some miserable news I’ve heard this weekend was a friend from my undergrad Uni didn’t get into Flinders this time round to study medicine.  I feel like some of the gloss for my own success has been worn off with this set back for her.  I really wanted her to get in and furthermore I remember the crushing pain that I felt last year when I failed at the last hurdle and I know she must be experiencing this to some degree.  I remember it wasn’t pleasant.  I’m heartened to hear that she is sitting GAMSAT (which is the worst part of the whole process) again next year as getting knocked back at the interview stage is a test in itself which examines the individuals desire and commitment to study and practice medicine.  From what I’ve heard from my friends that are doctors is that too many people crumble under the pressure or burn out from the intense work load and without the afore mentioned commitment it becomes impossible to work as a doctor.  I’m glad for her sake that she’s passed this initial examination and I hope she does everything she can to give herself the best chance of gaining entry into a medical program next year.


     Well some further news.  A friend of mine is also moving across the country as it turns out.  He’s got a new job over there and his wife will follow him across in a few months.  It will be great to have a friend over there because as it stands now, with a little over a month before first year medicine commences, I have no job, I don’t know anyone and have no place to live over there.  To top it off there is so much to do before I leave and this move is costing me a lot of cash.  I wonder why I’m so damned calm about it all.  I really shouldn’t be. 


     My friend Katie thinks I’m ‘even-keeled,’ which isn’t such a startling revelation to me.  Perhaps I’m suited to a life of high pressure?  I’ve even had my first thoughts about what sort of doctor I’d like to be.  I’ve said all along that general practice was my aim but maybe I might be cut out for the emergency trauma centre gig?  Maybe I’m getting too far ahead of myself.


     Well to finish.  Blogging is a strange thing.  It is one part Facebook where you share what’s happening with your life, one part diary exposing your thoughts and one part fame mongering.  I’ve never been an attention seeker so I think it’s the diary part that is keeping me interested (that and it’s a form of procrastination).  Weird to think that I’m as old as I am and keep a diary online.  It reminds me of a book that we had to read at school, The secret diary of Adrian Mole.  I think I still remember the last line of that book. Something along the lines of knowing the love of a good women.  I’m going to have to track this book down now and read the last page. 


December 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting organised

     There is less then two months until I rock up for my first day of medicine.  I’m extremely happy and excited.  It can’t be stated any simpler then that.  However there are a lot of things that need to be done before I can start.  Even more considering I’m moving across the country to study with no friends, family or financial support there waiting for me.  So I’ve decided to get cracking.


     To start with I’m doing my senior first aid certificate on the weekend.  It’s a two day course, 8 hours per day and I have to have it before I can start medicine.  It sucks to lose my weekend for this, especially as I’m under the impression that whatever the hospitals teach will quickly supersede our first aid training.  


     I’ve also applied for a job across the country, one that I’m probably over qualified for, though I haven’t had specific experience in this area.  I have a phone interview on Monday and I really hope I get it.  It’s part time working 6pm – 10pm a few nights a week.  It would really suit me and take some of the pressure off trying to get the RAMAS scholarship (which I’ve little chance of getting since I barely qualify and they give them out depending on how rural your upbringing has been). 


     Tomorrow is the day to tell my boss that I’m quitting in January.  I’ve put it off for so long because I’m unsure when I will be leaving and don’t want to miss out on any easy money by setting a date and realizing that I could’ve worked a bit longer.  I’ll be as vague as I can in regards to the date so hopefully she won’t try and pin me down to a day.  It feels good that I’m quitting.  I doubt I could’ve worked another year there.  The working relationships I have with some of the staff are deteriorating and there is always some sort of drama happening that I find myself getting drawn into.


     Other things requiring attention are; booking a mover to lug my stuff over to my new state of residence, switching to a cheaper phone plan, vaccinations (gulp), police clearance to work in a hospital, multiple trips to the doctor, finding a short term place to live and numerous other stuff.  To top it off I’ve been laid low with a chest infection (the type that generally lingers with me for months) and all I want to do is eat pancakes, play football and generally procrastinate. 


     Still for all my complaints, it’s so nice to finally be at ease with myself about how my life is going.  I’ve beaten myself up for years over my failure to get into medicine.  I hadn’t allowed myself to enjoy holidays or even spare time as in the back of my mind was a little voice making me feel guilty that I was wasting time that could be spent studying.  I know medicine is a hard long slog and that sort of guilt is going to return.  I wonder if I’ll ever feel as relaxed as I do now?

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The interview

     I’m at work and to say I’m bored shitless is something of an understatement.   So I’ve sneaked out for an hour and I’ll doubt they’ll notice that I’m gone.  What has prompted this, besides from the danger of falling asleep while listening to my colleagues trying to sound busy is a sudden desire to talk about the medical interview.   A couple minutes ago a person who was one of the references that I put down for this whole process, came and congratulated me on being accepted.   Now, besides from the feeling of how great it is to still tell people that I finally got in, there were a few interesting things that arose from this conversation.

     Firstly, the selection panel didn’t contact either of my references.  That might’ve been because my resume and personal statement had “future outstanding medical student” written all over it or more likely it’s that anybody smart enough to manage to pass GAMSAT will also be smart enough to pick two people who are likely to say nice things about them rather then give a subjective appraisal. 

     Next thing that struck me was how my impression changed of how the interview went before I got accepted and after.  I, like a lot of people I imagine, over-analyze everything and that was the case with the interview.  I walked away thinking it went ok, but with every passing day, bits of the interview would come back and flood my subconscious until I was forced to look at it and admit that I could’ve said something more appropriate.  It got so bad that I convinced myself that I had bombed again (I’ve had two interviews, the less said about the first one the better).  But once I received the offer I reappraised everything and concluded that it actually went quite well.  So well that I’m convinced I could coach someone through the interview and obtain a medical place.

     The interview is basically a sit down with a panel and they ask various questions that deal with motivation, leadership, conflict resolution and empathy.  For mine there was no smoke and mirrors, no good cop bad cop and not even a discernable trick question.   I tried to be as honest as I could, answering the questions in the spirit of how the process is meant to function.  When they asked what qualities a good leader had I named them.  When they asked for three qualities I had that made me a good leader I (perhaps foolishly) only gave them two, despite reeling off a host of them a moment ago.  I didn’t think to plagiarise them as I was being honest and it had to be true.  We talked about conflict resolution and I shared a brilliant example that I had prepared doing my best to assure them that I had the negotiating skills of Henry Kissinger.  However when they asked me about something that frustrates me about working in a team I picked an example about a work conflict that I couldn’t solve and is still an on going problem this day. 

     The point I’m going to make out of that mess that is the previous paragraph is the importance of honesty when trying to sell yourself in interviews and especially interviews that pertain to a profession where ethics are as important as they are to doctors.   I made it a pervading point throughout the interview that I was honest despite the obvious risk in doing so.  By convincing the panel that I was honest it gave all my other arguments that I was the right candidate to practice medicine more weight.  While stressing how honest and fantastic  I was, I also pointed out (repeatedly) that I wasn’t better then anybody else which is ironically important to acknowledge when selling yourself.

     I have a whole hemisphere of my brain taken up by interview knowhow but rather then put them to paper (so to speak) I’m going to keep them locked away to share with people I know will make good doctors and that are doing it for the right reasons.  (I’m still shocked to meet people that do it or want to do it for the wrong reasons, it’s almost comical to hear the motivations they have to become a doctor)  I will say this though, don’t try and fool the panel as there are three of them and only one of you and they will see through you.  To a small extent I employed this during my first interview and was found out.  Though it cost me a year, I’ll admit a begrudging satisfaction that when I was brutally honest with myself and the panel was the time they saw the doctor in me.

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Party like it’s 1984

     This week I received the various collection of policies, requirements (immunizations, police clearance, working with children clearance) and information that we need to understand and obtain/sign off on before we rock up to our first day of lectures.  At first glance it seems excessive, particularly the form that we have to sign and send back stating that we’ll treat the textbooks in the PBL room with care and are liable if any going missing.  The police and working with children clearances I can understand as they could take a bit of time getting organized and failure to meet those requirements could potentially rule you out of studying medicine.  But surely they are treating entry into their medical program with a bit too much magnitude?


     Among the plethora of stuff jammed into that A4 envelop was a stipulation that I get a letter from a GP assuring the school that I was of sound mind and body to study medicine.  Are they serious?  Lets first off state that one of the things they are looking for from the GP is an indication that I don’t have any serious disability that would impair my ability to practice medicine or any blood-borne virus which could represent a danger for those I might treat.  That’s a bit harsh, but I can understand where they are coming from.  You couldn’t have someone prone to epileptic fits performing neural surgery, but that’s not to say they wouldn’t make a fine GP.  I’d hate to have taken from me the chance to study medicine because of a genetically inherited condition, and I would hope that the people making these calls don’t rule a person out entirely due to such an example. 


     Also of interest is this tidbit warning us of behaviour such as… “dishonesty, unacceptable aggression or abusive behaviour, harassment, unethical and criminal behaviour….This could also include inappropriate response to stress..”  The policy goes on to describe the process of what happens if we get reported for any poor behaviour and the short of it is that it gets taken to the Dean and he makes a call as to if you have to go remedial activities (i.e. see a shrink) or go to a review committee and present our case. 


     Now, I’m not the sort of person that gets too worried easily, but upon doing a bit more reading I discover that tutors, PBL leaders, academics, staff and even my pet chili plant are all supposed to be actively monitoring us and reporting us to Big Brother if we step out of line.  I can’t claim to be a saint but I consider myself a decent person.  However I can think of times this year I’ve been guilty of every one of the behaviors they warn against committing.  For example, currently I’m harassing the guy at work who won’t wash his hands after taking a crap.  He thinks the taps in the communal bathrooms have more germs on them then his hands, post-dump, and hence handles two doors that the rest of the staff use frequently to get to a basin he considers clean enough to wipe the poo off his fingers.  One of these doors is the main door to our staff room that we all have to go through at least 10 plus times each day.  I’ve tried talking to him about it but he’s stubborn and thinks because he worked in a pathology lab 10 years ago for a few years that he knows all about germs.  So I’ve launched a systematic campaign to force him into line.


     I told all my other colleagues (8 females) that this is going on to try and shame him and it worked for a while, however he’s fallen back to his brown ways.  So I’ve lost patience with him (this has been going on near 2 years now) and I regularly abuse him, harass him and generally take my bad mood out on him.  As I write this I’m wondering if perhaps I’m delusional in thinking I’m an ok person?  Comments?


     Back on topic.  I can easily see myself getting annoyed with someone during the course of studying medicine and perhaps doing something that might be construed as one of the many “no-no’s”.  Does this mean I have to be on my best behaviour for fear of being reported for the slightest erroneous gesture?  Will medicine be some sort of conformist police state?

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”

November 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First post!

     As the alias suggests, I am a med student (starting next year, 2 months to go) and I’ve been trying to get myself into medicine for a long time.  I decided sometime after school that it was what I wanted to do for a wide variety of motivations but for many reasons it took me too long to get there.  I won’t go into those reasons now as I want this first blog to be short and to the point.


     After I found out I was accepted I started scouring the net for information about studying medicine, I was so hungry for a taste of what it would be like.  I found a great community in the form of the Paging Doctor forums which bursts from the seams with all things medicine.  However, I quickly exhausted this avenue due to my excessive excitement and unchallenging fulltime job which allows me to do anything but work during the semester break.  Eventually I discovered blogs written by medical students.  I read some really good ones but what I noticed was that they wrote very little from the time they sat GAMSAT (the Australian exam that medical schools use here to determine who they give interviews to), through to the first day of medicine.  So that’s what prompted me to write a blog (and that a friend had started one a few weeks ago and I’d just finished reading hers). 


     The idea will be to post regularly from now to the completion of medicine.  A sort of blow by blow account from what it was like to persevere through the hard slog that is GAMSAT up unto graduation from medicine.  So I’m going to start blogging about what led me to apply for medicine first while at the same time writing about this period before starting studying first.


     This is my first blog and my first post.  I don’t profess to be a great writer possessing immense wit, clever insight or even rudimentary grammar.  What does qualify me to write a blog is that I’m a geek, whiny and bored.  If you’re reading this because you want to be entertained, look elsewhere, as it is I can barely keep myself amused.  So here goes…

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment