Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unnecessary Stress?

Lately I have been getting a bit stressed. And I do not know if I am giving myself unnecessary stress. I've been having a lot on my mind. As some of you know, I am a Canadian and an international student studying in the UK. Just for good back-up should I take the Canadian registry exam so if things go bad or for some reason I have to return home to work I can. I have done some research and some people say take the exam after 2nd year because all the sciences stuff will be fresh in your mind. Some say do it after 3rd year so you have a bit more knowledge about the clinical side of medicine. Then there are some who say after 5th year (aka after graduating from medical school) because I would be more mature to take the exam. There are pros and cons for each year but you know if I am considering taking the exam after 2nd year or 3rd year I should really get thinking. I really do not know what to do. I'm stuck. In a way I am a bit hesitant about taking the exam after 5th year as I am worried I'll forget all the sciences stuff. But on the other hand, 2nd year could be too soon as I need time to study and it is now November...well in a few days it will be November and I also have to study for my final exam in the summer. Might be giving myself too much work! So in a way 3rd year seems like a good time but is it really too early to be taking the exam?

Second, I have a strong passion for surgery. Ever since I had the opportunity to learn/discover about surgery I have been non-stop thinking "I want to be a surgeon". Also for my 2 week hospital placements to shadow surgeons/doctors, I was fortunate enough to be paired with a general surgeon and a paediatric surgeon. Compared to others I found surgery really interesting. Can't believe some people say it is boring and actually would do anything to avoid going to watch surgery. I have been criticized by people that I am thinking too early, but to be honest, it is never too early. I want to prepare myself and really try to find as early as possible what I want to specialize in and whether or not surgery is genuinely right for me. About three years ago I was first exposed to Orthopaedic surgery. I was hooked. I thought it was interesting and I really enjoy sports medicine. When I reached medical school, I have seen a lot of surgeons/doctors teasing orthopaedic surgeons which essentially put me right off. "The carpenter of the hospital." "Oh you hear the hammering and drilling sounds? Ah must be the orthopaedic surgeons working." It seems to be that orthopaedic surgeons don't get enough respect. I personally feel that they should get a lot more respect than they really do as they do help a lot of people's lives feel better. Yeah they might not always be saving a life like a neurosurgeon or a trauma surgeon, but they have their part in changing someone's life for the better. Anyways so after being put off from orthopaedics, I found that I had a huge interest in learning about the heart. So I thought about cardiothoracic surgery. Sounds great. Love the anatomy of the heart, get to save lots of lives, prevent people from dying, and great pathology. Oh is at risk of getting phased out by them interventional radiologists. Plus the other day I went to attend a talk by an Orthopaedic - Spinal surgeon who discussed about thinking about the future. Need to think if the specialty you want to go in will still be here in 10 years time. He listed cardiothoracic and vascular surgery will be at risk. Great. Hmm. I obviously want to do something that has a lot of potential and has plenty of time to develop and not be at risk of disappearing. I did pay a lot of money and study really hard to get into a UK university and I definitely don't want to spend a lot of hard work at training into a specialty which could diminish in a few years time. I like to be on my feet, and excited about the future. The new technologies for surgeons and a field that is developing.

So the other day after attending the spinal surgeon's careers talk, I gave orthopaedics another look. Like it is a field that is developing and we have an aging population. There will be higher demands for hip replacements, knee surgeries, etc. So yeah I'm now jumping back and forth. Deep inside me I feel like I will end up in orthopaedic surgery as I always tend to go back to my first choices. Orthopaedics clicked with me early on and yes pathology isn't huge...but I could do a sub specialty into something that may involve interesting pathology.

Some others I have thought about are surgical oncology and ...well that's as far I have gotten to for now. My mentor is a surgical oncologist and specializes in breast cancer and after having a brutal four hour lecture from him, it actually seems quite interesting. Cancer will be out there for a long time and I don't see it disappearing anytime soon. It is constantly developing. Huge research goes into it. LOTS of people are affected by it. Very interesting pathology. Quite enjoyed it last year when we had lectures on it.

So you're probably thinking:
  1. Are you done ranting?
  2. Ok so what's the big deal? It isn't like you're graduating next year.
  3. ZzzZzzZzz
On top of what I mentioned earlier, to become a surgeon you need a CV that stands out from the rest. What did I do last summer? Relax aka did absolutely nothing. My classmates? Oh well they volunteered and worked at their GP surgeries, went to the hospital to shadow surgeons and doctors. CV is already looking real unique now...more like in a bad way. So now I'm on full blown motivated mode. To be honest I need to speak to someone about my future. At the moment we are in the midst of changing our mentoring program and we still do not have our new mentors. I don't know how much longer will I have to wait to get my new mentor and I don't know how much longer I can wait with so much in my head. I don't know who else to ask other than my mentor from last year as he seems quite knowledgeable. Maybe I should have a chat with him, but he is soooo busy I feel bad wasting his time when I am no longer his "mentee". Hopefully he'll have the answers. If not, time to search for someone to ask.

Sorry for the long post. Hope everyone is having a great time at uni still and enjoying medicine!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quick Recap.

Finally have some downtime to update my blog.

Anyways as some of you would know I'm now starting 2nd year of medicine in England and wow. We literally jumped right into lectures on the first day of school (20th Sept). First unit is on Skin/Urinary/Endocrine/Reproduction.

Same with last year - my enemy is still physiology. I can't get my head around renal physiology. It just seems so complex. This year's topics are starting to make last year's topics seem like child's play. Getting a bit worried - especially for exams. This year's exams will include some material from first year and they will not be specifying which materials from last year will be that means reviewing all of last year. Hopefully I'll survive, but this year I have adapted a new way of studying/reviewing.

Last year, I used to print out my lectures the day before and take a quick glimpse of it. After a whole year I realized it is a horrible way for preparing for next day's lecture. You cannot even consider it as preparation. This year I have decided to take my laptop with me to lectures. The night before I would type up the powerpoint for next day's lectures and when I get to class I'll add to the powerpoint that I typed up the night before. My notes are looking much nicer and organized. Also this forces me to read my lectures beforehand as obviously to type the gotta read it. It has helped quite a bit as when I go to lectures I know what to expect and am more ready. Also this year I am trying to keep up with the recommended reading. Last year I left all my reading to the last 5 weeks prior to exams and it was the WORST idea ever. It was torturous and dumb. This year I have started marking all my recommended reading and actually taking a quick read through first so when I go back to read em before exams it won't be new/fresh. Hopefully this new method of preparation and revision will help me out.

Also side note: I hope all you freshers had loads of fun during freshers week. Hopefully no one is feeling homesick yet and have made lots of friends! Most importantly I hope everyone is enjoying their course and not regret their decision of studying medicine/regret their uni choice. If you are feeling a bit down/regretting your choice - please keep your chin up and try to enjoy it as much as possible. Let go of your previous impressions of the uni and try and experience the uni. Hopefully as weeks pass you'll get more and more used to the environment and actually start liking your decision to study at that uni.

Good luck to all with your course and hopefully I'll have more time later on to keep updating.