Saturday, June 2, 2012

Post #100 - A Look Back.

Post #100 for this blog. I obviously want to make a special post and let's take a trip back to the beginning of this blog.

August 6, 2009 - my first blog post. It was a big day for me as it was the day I received an unconditional offer from my university to study Medicine in the UK. Looking back, coming to study in the UK was a huge decision and definitely a path of a lot of unknowns. A new country. A new culture. A new chapter. Little did I know what a roller coaster ride it would be for the next 2.5 years. I faced many challenges (and still facing challenges) and have grown up a lot in the last 2.5 years. University was a new chapter to my life. Saw and learned so many new things. It has so far been the best few years of my life. I can easily say that Freshers week will always be a highlight as it was quite an experience getting to know so many new people in such a short amount of time. I've been in the same school for half my life so making new friends is something "new" and I was extremely nervous. Kind of laughing at myself now for being so nervous/scared as there was nothing to be scared about. Every one is on the same boat in terms of friends and people are just so friendly. A tip for those who will be starting this coming September: be EXCITED. There is nothing to be afraid of and don't let anything hold you back. Enjoy your time as a Fresher as it will blow by in a blink of an eye. 

When I first started this blog I was really unsure whether I will even be able to keep up with it. Slowly I've noticed that people are reading it and it really motivated me to keep posting. Whilst scrolling through my archives...I have noticed quite a change in frequency of posts. I think it's a fairly good representation of excitement through my years in medical school. Obviously if there is something exciting, I would post about it. Here's reality: the first 2 years of medical school is a bit of a shock. I think a lot of us come into medical school thinking like we would be like the TV show ER...or House and we would be immersed in doing clinical procedures and running around. WRONG. Well in my case I was stuck in a lecture theatre for 2 years learning about the basic sciences, which isn't the most exciting thing. It is obvious there were a lot of up and downs in the last 2 years. I lost sight of the final prize (becoming a doctor) several times throughout the last 2 years. You get to a certain point where you're like "get me on the wards!" and then there will be times where you ask yourself: "Why in the world am I studying Medicine?" Medical school is full of obstacles and it is emotionally, mentally, and physically tough. There are so many times where you're on the floor and you really need to dig deep to pick yourself back up. I realized this is a degree that you have to be committed to because there are times where you truly do question your desires of being a doctor. Then at last - I reached clinical years. 2 grueling years of being cooped up in a lecture theatre and finally I am able to do some practical things and talk to patients. But hold up...with my school we are quite lucky to have a bit of clinical experience in the first 2 years.

March 15, 2010 - first hospital attachment. It was a short clinical attachment and really just a taste test of what I'll be doing in the future. Only a few months ago I saw first year medical students starting with their first clinical attachment like I did back in 2010. Seeing these freshers really put things into perspective of how far you have come along. (And for once it was nice not being at the bottom of the ladder at the hospital). It really gave me a flashback to what it was like when I started my first clinical attachment. Patient histories were a struggle...I was not good at them at all. Hardly knew any medical sciences so I didn't really understand anything and tried my best to keep up. Couldn't do any clinical skills. Essentially just shadowed the doctors and tried to not get in the way. Went to observe a few surgeries and standing on a pedestal trying to peer over the consultant's shoulder. However, I do remember how much I enjoyed watching surgeries. It just clicked. Fast forward to 2012. Patient histories - easy. Interacting with patients - easy. Medical knowledge - growing every day. Clinical skills - taking bloods, inserting cannulas, inserting catheters...just the other day I put in an endotracheal tube on my own (supervised by the anaesthetist). Surgery - observe? Heck I'm scrubbing in now and even helping close up at the end! Medical school is a long and painful process...but when you take the time to stop and think back to when you see how far you have come.

February 8, 2011 - immigration laws changing. I believe this is the first proper post where I've discussed in detail about being an international student and things we have to think about. From then on, I have dedicated 2 other posts (Tidbit for International Students and Life of an International Student) to give a bit more insight about the life of an INTERNATIONAL medical student. To be honest, being an international student isn't that much more different than a local British student. We go through the same course. We get treated the same. We learn the same things. We see the same things. The only difference is our accents, and our passports...and the fact we have to worry about Visas and immigration laws. But other than that, being an international student hasn't been that hard of a transition that I had initially thought. Before I started medical school, my biggest fear was the fact I was an international student and it might be a bit harder for me to make friends or get used to the culture. Again during Freshers week...everyone was just so friendly...I didn't feel different. I didn't feel that much of an outsider. There were a few times in the last 2.5 years where it was frustrating to be an international student due to the lack of support from the medical school, but you learn to manage. As an international student, you make a lot of sacrifice. You leave your family behind. You leave home behind (which can be thousands of miles away). You pay higher fees. But hey hopefully it will be worth it. Hopefully this is something I will not regret. At the end of the day...hopefully this will be all worth it. Homesickness is a huge thing for international students and a lot of my friends do struggle with this...including me. Every time this happens I just have to take a break and tell myself it will be worth it and think about all the obstacles I have already been through and how far I have come. What makes me wake up every morning is the end prospect from studying medicine. I am grateful to be in such a great field and the experiences I have had so far have been amazing. The future with immigration and working in the UK - not a straight path and one with many bumps, but the fact I have made so many sacrifices just gives me so much more motivation and determination to make it work. Work hard and hopefully have a bit of luck on my side when it comes to jobs.

August 7, 2009 - first tip post. Not exactly one of my best tip post, but hey we all got to start somewhere. Obviously this blog was to keep a track of my crazy life of being a medical student, but also to give some tips to future medical applicants. I try my best and over the last 2 years I have posted quite a few tip posts here and there. Applying to medical school is no easy process and I wished I got some tips. My school back in Canada was not very good with helping out students with applying abroad as they are not very familiar with the process. It was a difficult process as I had to do a lot of stuff myself and call up universities in the middle of the night (my time due to the time difference) to get some more information. Hopefully with my tip posts I am able to help future applicants with the process. Obviously I applied 3ish years ago so UKCAT info and tips are a bit off, but I'm sure the interview process is still the same. Now I'm trying to focus on giving tips on surviving medical school. Little tricks I have learned here and there. I remember my very first medical school lecture, one of my professors told all of us: "Life is not fair." And it is so true and particularly true with medical school. So here is a tip to all of you: Life is not fair. You cannot have your way with everything...unfortunately, BUT what you can do is make the best of every experience no matter how undesirable it is. There is always something to learn. Stay humble and treat those around you with the same respect you would expect in return. You will meet a lot of people throughout medical school and treat everyone well as you never know, you might see he or she again in the future. Consultants on placements - treat them with as much respect as you can as who knows, he or she may just be your future employer in a few years. Don't do anything you will regret, even outside of school hours as things can come back and bite you on the ass. Unfortunately as a medical student - we got to grow up very fast. We start medical school at around 18 or 19 years will see patients of all ages and they expect professional behaviour despite your age. Also grow some thick skin - consultants can be very unforgiving. Do your best to not take it personal. At the end of the day their criticisms are for your own good.

June 2, 2012 - post #100. It has been quite a journey and I expect more ups and downs in the next 2 years. Being a doctor is starting to get real. Now going through my specialty placements, I'm starting to do more and more on placements. This post has made me look back and realize how much I have grown emotionally and mentally. Thank you to all you readers out there and keeping me going on this blog. I really appreciate it. Happy reading!


  1. Hey! I've been following your blog for quite a while now... It is very informative, especially for me as I'm going to be an international medicine student next year! You really helped alot with my UKCAT prep and application in general. Thank you so much - I don't know how else to say it. I'll advise all the future canadian applicants to have a read on your blog. Once again, thank you for the fantastic job - best of luck with everything that is in front of you!

  2. Hey, I too am a foreign student. Doing my first year and it's just been 6 months. Though I'm just in a neighbouring country which is almost having similar kind of environment I agree that foreign students do face some difficulties. At some points they feel helpless and lacks support! But that's only sometimes and it's just a part of our college life. Yes, homesickness sucks! Oh, and in these 6 months I did asked myself what the hell I was thinking when I decided to join a medical college. But as you said it will give a reward at the end of being a doctor! :) I'll be looking up your past experience to get some tips.

    This one is my blog:
    which I created yesterday to share my experiences. :) Have only one post yet, introductory but I'll be updating. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!