I must apologise for the long hiatus in blog posts, I have been under a lot of stress from phd work and an illness in the family. It is now September and soon Imperial College will be filling up with students again. As a phd student working at a host institution I am not so aware of semesters and holidays and have been working right through the summer. Phd students do not get official holiday but we are recommended to take the statutory amount, which is 4 weeks per year. Depending on your supervisors you might have to arrange this with them, but I generally take it when I want.
So there is a brand new cohort of thousands of students starting at Imperial. Imperial has buildings all over London (Halls, hospitals, research labs…!) and so it can get a bit daunting to have to leave the luxury of your mum and dads car to now travelling by yourself through London.
So I have come up with some top tips for students travelling around London!
Number 1: Make sure you download CityMapper! It honestly will save your life when you are lost on the “blue line” and 30 minutes late for something. It will get your location and let you know how/how long it will take you to get to your destination.
In Medicine, like many other jobs, we tend to subconsciously stereotype. We rely heavily on pattern recognition for diagnosis, and being a certain age/ sex/ gender is part of that pattern. For example abdominal (tummy) swelling in a 20-30 year old woman has different likely diagnoses that the same swelling in a 70 year old man.
However I was recently challenged about my subconscious stereotypes. I was visiting a HIV clinic in the heart of Soho. When the first patient arrived I found myself surprised- they weren’t the patient I had expected. In fact none of them were.
I saw high flying city workers, happily married couples, internationally renowned performers, hard working shopkeepers and smiling children from all over the world, including many different parts of the U.K.
I was upset recently to realise that in the midst of studying I had lost sight of why I went into Medicine.
It’s easy to do. Placements are hectic, stress builds around exams, studying in the library disorientates you and finding opportunities for sign-offs and achieving competencies become your first priority. Recently I found myself stressed in theatre on a Friday afternoon frantically trying to sort out achieving my last competencies on that placement and make sure I had all the paperwork for them sorted.
I was stunned to see the attitude of the student nurse and staff nurse, and how different this was from my own.
As term draws on and first years begin to prepare for exams, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Medical Student Syndrome.
Medical Student Syndrome… what is that?
Defined by wikipedia as a condition where medical students students “perceive themselves to be experiencing the symptoms of a disease that they are studying”, this is a very common issue faced by medical students all over the world!
Put simply, when you study a disease for a long time, you begin to persuade yourself that you probably have it and need to go to your GP. However by the time you get to your GP you have forgotten about that disease, and now think you have something else that you are studying.
Warning: This is what I have gathered from this all. I could have bits and bobs completely wrong here, so please do correct me.
So today I was on student finance England, trying to work out how much debt I was in. Luckily for me, if you log into www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk you can check it out.
The below is a very honest account of my debt, hopefully will be able to lay it out honestly for prospective students about what they are facing.
So, I have a grand total of: £45,274.67 debt after just 3 years of studying, and 3.9 interest rate.
So it all started with an email…
I was in the middle of exams, when I got an email back in May. The subject: “Summer communications work”. It was from the ChemEng Communications Officer… Ohh well, I thought it’s like a one-day something, some promotions, whatever. Then I read the email…
“…I am looking for someone to do some part-time work on departmental communications…”
“…The work would be quite varied, essentially assisting me and would consist of things such as writing short news stories, managing social media channels and putting together the newsletter…”
“…given your great work on the blog I thought I would approach you first…”
“…Please let me know if you’re interested…”
My first reaction was: OH MY GOD!!!
Hello! Sorry it has been a while since we last posted- Internet has been very limited in Rushere as the shops had run out of data for our network, and we had spent too much of our data spending money on cups of tea and accidently ringing up the talking clock!
We are now in Entebbe- the town by the airport relaxing before we fly tomorrow afternoon. It is a luxury to be here after the last few weeks – we even have a fan, a TV and fast wifi!
The last couple of weeks at Rushere have been busy. We have enjoyed helping with more theatre cases- one week we had nearly one caesarean and one gynaecological operation a day, which is a lot here- it got to the point where we had nearly run out of clean instruments!
Sorry for the lack of blog posts. We have been having Internet issues. We bought some more data for our modem only to find less than 5 minutes later it had run out (it was to last us a fortnight!)- turns out our Imperial ipad had used all the data to update it’s apps. As a result it is banished to the suitcase! The last couple of weeks here have been interesting.
Medicine-wise we have spent a lot of time in theatre seeing lots of caesarean sections (done to prevent serious problems, not cosmetic!) and a finger amputation!
On the wards we have helped manage lots of challenging cases of malnutrition which at times has been heartbreaking, as well as lots of paediatric and neonatal cases which has been great revision.
I am halfway through this 6 year degree- woah. And I am having a bit uncertainty as to where to go from here, especially as pretty much all my school friends are graduating now and starting real life. Questions have popped up like what do I want to do for a BSc project, what shall I do for money in 5th and 6th year, what speciality am I thinking that I eventually want to train in and ultimately…is medicine for me still?
People have doubts in life, and it really is not uncommon to have doubts about whether medicine is the right career path for you (especially when you are racking up a huge debt for it).