Over the last year I have started to understand how non-medical students view medical students. This has been very interesting, enlightening and somewhat frustrating at times, in the form of debates over the dinner table to overhearing conversations about medical students in SAFB (I mean if you are going to voice your opinion you could pick a better building to sit in than the medics building!).
So as I prepare to spend some time with non-medics, I thought I would write a blog to dispel any myths about Imperial medical students.
“Medics never do any work”
This was the first opinion that I heard about medics and started a long dinner table discussion. To put this into context the week before I heard this an average day had been:
Leave the house by 5:45am (looking presentable and smartly dressed!) in order to get the tube to Northwick Park Hospital, where at 7:15am I started clerking pre-surgery patients before their operations. I then needed to change into scrubs, find suitable surgical shoes (always a tough task) and scrub in (help out the surgeon) or observe in theatre for the rest of the morning (desperately hoping my tummy wouldn’t rumble!). I then ate lunch whilst in a tutorial, before attending afternoon clinic (seeing patients on my own, helping out the staff and answering quiz questions from the consultant!). I would get home about 6:30-7pm when I then needed to cook dinner, eat and read up on topics before the next day’s teaching at activities.
“Okay, so older years do work, but first and second year medics do nothing”
This is a common misbelief. The main reason for this is that at imperial first and second years have very few assignments to hand in compared to other years. I think during both years I had to hand in one piece, compared to the large number other subjects have every term. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done however, it just means that many people aren’t seen doing it.
There is a lot of content to cover in second year especially, but it is mostly assessed in exams, so obviously medics will be working the hardest during study leave when many will not be at Imperial to be seen! Similar applies for first year, plus the first term is designed to allow time to build friendships, which are so important in a long course like ours (6 years is a long time to not have any friends!) and also brush up basic knowledge as every student has a slightly different background before coming to Imperial.
“Medics are elitist- they have their own sports teams, bar and union”
We are not all elitist! We are all busy doing different hours and commuting to different hospitals though, so having sports teams/clubs designed to take this into account is quite useful. I was part of many IC clubs but found after a while that getting to South Kensington for a 6pm start was tough, especially without any dinner. Medic clubs simply meet at more convenient times for placements, nearer where most medics live and allow you to miss more rehearsals/training sessions because of placement. The bar and union are for very similar reasons, just convenience and suitability to our needs.
Also non-medics can use these too- clubs/societies and the bar would welcome you in if that’s more convenient for you too!
“I haven’t spotted a medic since I was in halls; they don’t like me”
Oh dear, we don’t go round avoiding non medics! In first and second year medics are split between two campuses, so obviously won’t be around South Kensington as much, and after second year it’s quite rare to have anything scheduled at South Kensington. It’s not that we don’t like non medics though- I used to quite often bump into old friends from halls in Reynolds library (until they graduated and got a job!). Obviously a lot of the medics are also older than your average imperial student, with graduate entry, direct entry students from Oxbridge and our course being twice the length of most other degree courses!
“Medics are rich and get lots of bursaries and free stuff”
Well, medics may be rich in qualities and maybe knowledge, but pocket isn’t one of them for most of us! We have been very fortunate to receive a stethoscope and IPad from imperial to help us with our studies over the last few years. Unfortunately there are few private companies who wish to sponsor medical events, as recruitment out of the NHS is low and pharmaceutical companies cannot advertise to students, so this means few reduced events, free lunches or gifts like other courses.
Medics are supported by NHS bursary in their final two years, but this simply replaces student loan and for many needs to be topped up with additional loans to cover living and transport costs. Plus we will leave with 4-6 years of debt compared to everyone else’s 3-4 years, to start on a lower average salary!
“Medics are boring and don’t have any fun”
This could not be further than the truth! Although at times we might get on a rant about how non medics do not understand us (sorry about that), we do ‘work hard, play hard’. There seems to be a ball for every event at medical school, and studying alongside each other for 6 years, facing unique challenges and some highly stressful situations bonds us as friends for life!