#GuestPost: Sobitha Manoharan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 09/04/18
Hi everyone! My name is Sobitha and I am in second year med with Brian. I know the vast majority of you will be applying for Medicine at the end of the year and now that you’ve had some uni experience, we thought it would be a good time for you to sit back and really think about whether medicine is right for you. In this post, I will give you my insight and guide you towards some things you should be considering. Firstly, I’d just like to congratulate you all on making it halfway through what I definitely felt was the toughest semester of the two. Use this break wisely in terms of preparing for the next lot of tests but also take some time off for the sake of your own sanity. You will need some momentum for the next half of semester, trust me!
Now that you have a bit of time, use it to carefully assess your motivations for wanting to become a doctor. Pre-warning, I am going to use the word ‘motivation’ excessively throughout this post because it is for sure the make or break factor. I’m not going to lie, my OLY1 year had as many freak outs, breakdowns and ups and downs as the next person but never once did my certainty for medicine ever falter. Some of you may have elements of second thought or doubt coming through, so make sure to sit down and consider it thoroughly. Your motivations must be completely genuine. The promise of money, prestige or fame is neither true, nor will it get you anywhere. Medicine is a taxing and challenging life commitment, yet an extremely compelling and fulfilling career path. It is truly a privilege to be entrusted with someone’s health, putting your skills and knowledge towards helping people through their greatest moments of need. To be able to improve the quality of life, health and well-being of people is quite possibly the most rewarding thing I can think of.
Medicine requires a unique responsibility to put service to other people first, effectively communicate with patients, maintain ongoing relationships and engage in complex problem solving. As it is for me, your main driving force should be your love and passion of taking care of people, as this is what will carry you through the years of study and the challenging career that lies ahead.
A lot of people are infatuated by the idea of a career in medicine, as House and Greys’s have glamourised the role of a doctor, where you’re Mother Teresa saving lives every day, coming home at 5pm, with full weekends and holidays off on top of it all. What is not shown is the vast amount of study involved. Don’t get me wrong, my experience in med so far has been so amazing. You have so many things to look forward to next year, including clinical skills sessions, GP visits and cadaver labs. The course itself contains the most interesting and engaging content I’ve ever learnt but by no means is it a walk in the park. If you’re not loving what you’re doing, I can imagine it being pretty miserable memorising the attachments, nerve and blood supply to every single muscle in the body (what we’re all frantically trying to do right now for our Musculoskeletal module). Medicine is a career revolved around ongoing life-long learning, especially in this generation with the constant advancements in technology and research. You will be constantly be studying and learning throughout your career, so you have got to be passionate about it. Next, think in terms of the career itself. I’ve talked to doctors who have expressed difficulties with maintaining work/life balance, feeling overwhelmed with patient, family and social demands. Other stress factors include the long hours, night shifts, unpredictability and emotional baggage from patients. I am by no means trying to discourage you; the pros far outweigh the cons, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the negatives, as they too have to be factored into your decision.
Here are a few things I’d recommend doing to help you really pinpoint your suitability for medicine.
– Write it down: Get a piece of paper and brainstorm all your reasons for wanting to do medicine. A lot of you will have the ideas in your head but it really puts things in perspective when you have to articulate it.
– Volunteer: Volunteering is so rewarding and provides you with a multitude of experiences with people of different ages, backgrounds and situations. Seeing first-hand how disease and disability affect people had such a major impact on my decision to pursue medicine.
– Talk to doctors: Through high school and OLY1, I made sure I talked to as many doctors as I could. I sought out people of different specialties, stages in their careers and doctors who have worked in different healthcare environments. The way that they all talked about their jobs always exuded so much passion and commitment to their vocation, which I admired immensely and was a major source of motivation.
– Shadow a doctor: this will give you the best insight into experiencing what a career in medicine entails. I shadowed a family friend who is a consultant geriatrician and I can’t even begin to describe how useful it was to be able to see how a hospital and medical multidisciplinary team operates in the NZ healthcare system. I would definitely encourage you to do this as you will learn so much.
Final word of advice: this whole year comes down to pure hard work. Don’t worry about how well you did in high school or how many A+’s your lab partner is getting. If there’s one thing that is going to keep you going and get you in at the end of this year, it is the motivation that comes from within. Just remember that nobody else is going to get you in but yourself; not your parents, lecturers or any pre-med company. Sorry, I’ve gotten a bit carried away, I have an ongoing issue with keeping to word counts You are in good hands with Brian but if there is ever anything you want to ask me, comment below, stalk me at uni or flick me a message on Facebook, I am more than happy to answer any doubts or questions. All the best for the rest of the year, just a little bit of hard work and grit and we’ll be seeing you at Grafton next year!