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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. 

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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