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The End of An Era

The title says it all. As I regather my wits after completing one of the toughest academic years I’ve ever experienced, I’m really excited to finally announce that I will be joining the MB-PhD in Cancer Sciences programme at Manchester in the coming academic year!

As I embark on a path different to most people that I know, I am taking the time this summer to slow down and commemorate everything that has happened this year. There were many wins that I did not have as much time to celebrate so this post is to give myself a pat on the back and remind myself of how far I’ve come.


Med School:

Starting my clinical year of medicine was tough. While I understand the need for skill-based sign offs while on placement, I did not enjoy having to chase after healthcare professionals so they would verify my forms from their inbox time after time again. Some of my placements were better than others and in particular, I had a very enjoyable student-selected placement in Breast Surgery.


The stress of chasing after people to sign me off, combined with long hours on placement and commuting left me exhausted most days. I did not get much of a break throughout the year due to the shorter breaks this year. In fact, I had a Masters interview during my Easter break which I had to prepare for while doing my OSCEs. I experienced a really bad bout of imposter syndrome and burnout after not doing as well as expected on my formative OSCEs, but thankfully I made it through and passed the year with the support of my loved ones - I was even recognised for my efforts by the medical school!


Overall I found clinical learning very hands-on, and learning from real patients was a lot more enjoyable than the didactic learning I had in pre-clinical years. I feel a lot more confident in a patient-facing role and am still amazed by how much I have matured as a student doctor in the span of a year. I will be writing a post about making the most of learning opportunities as a clinical year student so keep an eye out for that!


Research:

My research work deserves a whole section on its own because there has been a lot going on in terms of that. The biggest thing is probably that I applied to intercalate and was successful in the applications I made (obviously including for the PhD) - yay!!! During the application process, I learnt a lot about what I hope to achieve as a researcher and my “why”, which has given me clarity with my future endeavours.


I had a number of ongoing projects from last year and some that I started this year - unfortunately some of them have become stagnant (see tweet below) so I have decided to prioritise the work that will actually be moving forward, such as a selection of existing projects and my PhD research. I had to consciously stop myself from taking on too many projects this year with everything I had going on but I am very happy with most of the projects I have decided to get involved in this year, hopefully I make good progress on them in the coming year!

Life Outside Medicine:

I co-founded and now lead a non-profit for international medical students and doctors in the UK, a cause that I care a lot about. It was tough being a new organisation, having to figure out how to lead a team effectively and attract public interest in our work. For an organisation that has existed for less than a year and had to figure out its place among the landscape of non-profits in healthcare, I’m quite happy with how far we’ve come and there’s more coming in the year ahead! Check out our work if you’re interested :)


Karate has truly become a fixture in my life. This year I successfully graded for my 2nd Dan, competed in a category I’ve never done before and won a medal for the first time at a national competition. More than anything else, I found an outlet for my stress, a great group of friends, and started building the habit of going to the gym through karate.


I joined a few committees this year. Some were great teams to work with, others were completely dysfunctional and drained the energy out of me. In some way, I guess I learnt how not to be a leader/team player and how to try and push things forward in a team. In my personal life, I made some friends, lost some, strengthened the existing relationships I had with people and really developed my support network. I tried a lot of new things e.g. flipping pancakes (I know…) and surfing - most importantly, I learnt to celebrate the mundane things in life so the days wouldn’t become a blur of simply going to placement and studying.


TLDR:

My life as a third year med student was hard, very hard. There wasn’t much semblance of a “work-life balance”, the “balance” was tipped heavily towards work and I had to have an intervention to find things outside my life that restored my sense of fulfilment towards work that I used to get so much satisfaction from. The biggest lesson I learnt was to be picky about what I should dedicate my energy to. Next year I will be starting a PhD, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do but with more balance in my life.


I will now sign off as I go on holiday and truly take a break from the hectic year I’ve had. I’ll be back with more posts about clinical years, the MB-PhD and so on - to new beginnings!


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