More Advice You Don’t Need: Textbooks

Hello troopers! Condolences on getting into med school, if you have. Don’t give up on your dream, if you haven’t (but maybe consider an easier dream).

Today we’re talking tomes. Med textbooks cost several arms and legs, and the reality is you won’t be needing every single one of them. In this post I will attempt to dispense advice on which ones I think are absolutely crucial, and which ones you can borrow or rent or even do without.

Without further ado,

Crucial Basics

Anatomy. Here we use Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy for the pictures (internationally renowned) in conjunction with Last’s Anatomy for the descriptions. You will need these for the rest of your life.

*Just FYI – those homemade textbooks the Anatomy department sells you in first and second year are actually useful for passing anatomy, but utterly useless for the rest of your live.

Physiology. The Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology is recommended, but there are other like the Ganong that are probably just as good. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I didn’t spend much time reading Physiology textbooks, because they’re pretty much all long-winded and boring (f you know of one that isn’t, please leave a recommendation in the comments!) but you absolutely have to know how systems work and these texts are the way to do that.

Pathology. Here we use the Robbins and Cotran Pathological Basis of Disease. It’s long-winded, but you should get it because after you learn how systems work you have to learn how they fail, which helps you figure out how to fix them.

Crucial basics only get more relevant as you advance in your career, and you will constant be using them as references. Yes, the editions will constantly be updated but the core material will remain the same. Think of these books as investments in your future.

Clinical Necessities

Textbook of Clinical Practice. Such as the McLeod’s. Highly indispensable book, full of instructions and techniques for histories and examinations. You will use this from third to final year. Even once you’re confident in your skill set, the McLeod’s is still a book you turn to from time to time.

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine. I love small books that pack a punch. The OHCM is first class for information dispensed in bite sized portions that still cover all the necessary basics. I see residents walking around with this book (it’s pocket-sized too). Nuff said.

Textbooks of Surgery, Obstetrics/Gynaecology and Paediatrics. Yes, all three. Because when you’re in school they’re incredibly valuable.

For surgery, we use the Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery as a reference text (have a love/hate relationship with this book – it is huge and long-winded but surprisingly fun to read). A pocket-sized textbook for surgery is also useful. I prefer the Surgical Recall (and Advanced Surgical Recall), but some think it’s inadequate. I found it extremely adequate for my senior surgery rotation and remarkably easy to read.

For OB/GYN we use locally published textbooks. The Textbook of Obstetrics by Roopnarinesingh is perfectly tailored to our exams and clinical setting, despite being several years old. Similarly the Textbook of Gynaecology by Bharat Bassaw was written by most of the people who teach and test us. Basically? Get these books.

For paediatrics, we use Nelson’s Textbook of Pediatrics, but I think any well-respected textbook would do for paeds. Just make sure to pick one that you’re comfortable with because you will most likely end up teaching yourself this subject.

Nice Knowing You

Your first and second year textbooks of Histology, Embryology and Pharmacology don’t get much use later in your clinical years. Or maybe it was just me? Once you’ve learned the material and passed the exams anything else you need to know can be answered with a quick Google.

These books can be rented or bought and resold to junior students: DiFiore’s Histology, Langman’s Embryology, the Rang and Dale pharmacology text. Don’t get too attached to those names.

Fluffers

Any specialty textbook: Ophthalmology, ENT, Dermatology, Rheumatology, Orthopedics etc etc.

You can borrow all of these for the duration of your rotation. Even if you’re planning a career in the field, five years down the line (when you actually start your residency) you’re going to need an updated edition anyway.

That concludes our session, I think. Questions? Disagreements? Leave ’em in the comments. Good luck my friends. And happy studying.

6 Reasons I’d Never Live on Rex Nettleford and 1 Reason I Would

Disclaimer: This was written back when I used to live on campus; I dug it out of my drafts folder for posting at the time of year when people are thinking about where to live.

Rex Nettleford Hall of Residence on the UWI Mona campus was once the crème de la crème. Everyone who was anyone wanted to live there and everyone who was someone did. But Rex celebrated their tenth anniversary last year with flagging spirits and waning enthusiasm. The torch of hypeness has been passed on to the newcomers Towers (Elsa Leo Rhynie Hall) and New Postgrad (Marlene Hamilton Hall).

But even in the heyday of Rexan fortitude, I still wouldn’t have wanted to stay there. Here are six reasons why.

1. The hall fees are not the most economical. Last year, the 9 month stay on the 900 strong hall costed $214,120. (Seacole’s single room fees by comparison: $180,200).

hallfees

Hall fees 2013-2014 by Hall and Room Type

2. Hot water depends on the weather. Rex’s water heaters are solar powered, meaning no hot water if the sun don’t shine. I live and breathe hot water. Maslov left it off his hierarchy by accident. Seacole’s hot water is like the U.S. Postal Service: sun, rain, sleet or snow, I will always be toasty in the shower.

3. The rooms are SO TINY. A Rex room holds a single bed, a closet, a desk and a tiny shelf, all touching edges. It’s about half the size of my room on Seacole, and I’m not even exaggerating for the purposes of this list.

4. The laundry has opening and closing hours. How do you beat the crowd? You don’t. The freedom to do laundry at 2AM is on the Bill of Human Rights. In the fine print. Trust me on this. I’ll be making an independent inquiry.

5. The walls are paper thin. Privacy is a concept. On a flat, everyone always knows what everyone else is doing. Listening to Vibes Kartel? I can sing along with the lyrics. Using the bathroom? I can hear you pooping. That kind of intimacy is. . . undesirable.

6. 900 strong. Rex has always boasted the largest residence of any other hall on campus – claiming to be able to house 900 students. I’m pretty sure this number has dwindled over the years because their milkshake no longer brings all the boys to the yard, but they still house an impressive number of people. Which makes me distinctly uncomfortable. I’m not the biggest fan of large crowds so the 200 or so girls that live on Seacole feel more like a family than anything else.

Despite all the negatives (which I suppose could be positives to someone somewhere), there is one thing Rex has over Seacole*:

1. You only share amenities with 7 other people. I would gladly give up the 30 girls to a kitchen/bathroom aspect of Seacole life for Rex’s controlled 8-person chaos.

*The fact that my boyfriend lives on Rex almost made the list, but I realized that wouldn’t have been a plus to anyone else but me.

For Shari, who asked about WJC

What are some other things you liked that Mona Western had to offer, that Mona didn’t? (pro/cons of both campuses).

You guys, this is my absolute favourite topic (barring Doctor Who, Jane Austen, The Bloggess, and also right now Hozier).

The Western Jamaica Campus was like a second home to me. I loved the people, the campus and the atmosphere; I am hopelessly biased. But I will try to give you some amount of objective information (don’t take my word as gospel, guys).

Starfish

That time we found a starfish at the beach.

Disclaimer: This post is written based on my rose-coloured memories of life at WJC some 3+ years ago. The Todd just reminded me that life at WJC was actually not all that awesome.

We had to fight for some basic requirements (good sized classroom, proper streaming, actual anatomy specimens), and a lot of the time we were doing the best we could with what we had. What made it easier to bear was the relaxed, ready-to-help atmosphere of the western campus and the gorgeous, gorgeous surroundings.

wave goodbye

Additionally, things might have changed for better or for worse. You can get up to date information on WJC happenings from their Facebook page or on their blog, The WJC Insider.

Let’s get into that pro/con list.

WJC vs Mona

WJC Mona
Class sizes small – 20-30 people Class sizes HUGE – 200-400 people
Student:specimen and student:teacher ratio relatively good Brand new anatomy lab with lots of space and small group sessions
Tutors are (usually) readily available Lecturers have dedicated office hours, more students to compete with
Lectures are all streamed via network that might not work Lectures live or streamed depending on lecture theatre
Consultants teach anatomy Mostly residents and anatomists teach anatomy
Have to travel to Kingston for major labs No travelling required
Small, close-knit group of people Sprawling campus; easy to disappear
Breathtaking view of the Bay/beach/airport Mountains. Sometimes cold.
Hall of residence has a pool Campus pool that is currently out of service
Some clubs, some diversity of students Wide variety of clubs, wide range of nationalities etc.
The beach is RIGHT THERE. Liguanea is right there?
Less social events, almost no night life (except Hip Strip) Everything happens in Kingston. No, seriously.

WJC actually seems to come off worse in the comparison (sadface) but again I’m not exactly a valid or reliable judge (I’m actually a notoriously unreliable judge – ask anyone). If there are other specific concerns you have about either campus, feel free to post them in the comments or even call the campus of interest (I don’t have all the answers, guys, sorry) and share their response here.

Much love,

Robyn

For Christiane, who asked a Really Big Question

Dear Robyn,

I am from Trinidad and I got accepted into medical school at Mona. Could you tell me all that I need to know concerning medical school and how to care for myself while I am in Jamaica? Tell me how you managed because this is a new experience for me and I could use all the help and advice I can get.

Dear Christiane,

First off, congratulations on getting into medical school! (Or condolences, depending on how long you’ve been following this blog).

I want you to know that there is no simple answer to your questions. Five years into medical school and twenty-odd years of living in Jamaica and I’m still figuring most of this stuff out. A lot of your experiences here will be trial- and trial- and trial-and-error because they will likely be very unique experiences. (It is best to embrace this fact from now).

The best I can do is give you a few sweeping generalizations. (If you would like more specific answers, please leave specific questions in the comments)

I don’t know where to begin so I’m giving you your very own blog post (yay!) for people to comment on and share their own bits of advice. My hope is that this will turn into a giant crowd-sourced repository of advice for surviving and thriving medical school at UWI Mona (your place to shine!) much like my other (massively supported, I love you guys) post on medical school. (I will love you guys even if there is no support on this post).

I’ll kick-start the discussion with what I’m hoping are the starts of answers to your very valid, questions and share the links to some posts where I’ve gone in depth on a few topics.

New experiences are scary! And exciting! There’s so much potential, so much could go wrong; you want to run towards it with your arms wide open or hide with your teddy bear in a blanket fort (the teddy does not judge). I understand your need to feel prepared, but there’s no possible way to prepare for everything. What follows is my (hopeful) guide to keeping you alive and reasonably sane.

Medical School

See my (mostly) comprehensive post here: What is UWI medical school like?

Generally speaking, medical school = university + dead bodies and loads of studying.

Aside from the dead bodies, it’s pretty much like any other science major. Get used to the smell of formalin, and studying all the time. If studying all the time is your bag, congrats! If not, you will need to do some degree of adjusting.

First year med students hit the ground running with the sheer volume of information they’re expected to absorb and regurgitate, and the sad part is you will forget most of it. Later on in your 4th and final years some of it will actually start to make sense. Accept this fact from now.

Keep yourself healthy. This means physically, emotionally and mentally. Eat right and get some kind of exercise – foster the good habits early, or you will end up being the intern with a stomach ulcer who collapses on the job (true story).

Have appropriate outlets for your emotions; suicide is a very real danger for people in this career. Some/most med students study hard and party harder as a way of stress-relief. Find your stress-reliever and hold on to it with both hands (and feet, and your teeth too. Don’t let that fucker go).

Medical school is very self-directed; what you put in is what you get out. You should have a reasonable idea of what you want and what kind of doctor you want to be. The guiding light in med school is not passing exams, it’s being a clinician. You’re going to need to prioritize your activities (academic and co-curricular) according to the type of person you want to be when you graduate.

That sounds a little heavy.

My point is, when you’re confronted with decisions that seem hard or information that seems pointless (a lot of it will seem pointless in first and second year, it’s hard to tell the difference) the choices you make now will influence what kind of doctor you are five years down the line.

I’m not telling you to stay in the anatomy lab until midnight every night (unless that’s what you want to do – no judgment there), just be aware of the difference between your short-term wants and your long-term wants.

And make friends. Making friends in medical school is awesome. You need people to get your weird med school jokes, and to commiserate about how horrible this all is and why didn’t you just do business.

Taking Care in Jamaica

Jamaica is pretty much the same as everywhere else, except slightly scary and dirty and people harass you if you’re not from here. So, pretty much the same as everywhere else.

Stay clean, keep hydrated and don’t be an obvious target*. If you need to eat, bear in mind that food is expensive here (blame the IMF and our sliding dollar). If you need somewhere to live, you can read my post on student housing.

Hang out with people who don’t do medicine (you will need the break). Living on hall is a good way to meet those people. Get involved! University is a much more fulfilling experience when you’re involved in things you’re passionate about with people who are similarly passionate.

Something I wish I had known – you can do whatever you want as a medical student, especially in first and second year. Med school is not an amputation of your life outside of medicine. You can write songs, start a charity, go to Literature classes, join a professional dance company. If it’s your passion – go for it!

I hope I managed to answer at least some small part of your questions.

Much love,

Robyn

**

*Not being an obvious target = keep your wits about you, read all the campus security bulletins/advice, trust your instincts (unless you have bad instincts, in which case I would suggest not trusting your instincts). 

**

Advice from my classmates include:

First, would be not to worry about getting all the books that are required. The library is reliable and you will meet fellow students that will help you, so travel light if you can. Always have a working phone with credit. Take time to enjoy what the island has to offer, and be balanced with work, family and friends.

And of course. . .

Don’t. Go. 

Run as far away as possible.

Advice Across the Board

(No more classes, no more books / No more teacher’s dirty looks. In celebration of the end of my training, I’m sharing tidbits of advice from the last six years of my life. Because there’s no advice like unsolicited advice).

What I Wish Someone had Told Me

Before I started Medicine . . .

Stay in the Arts, create yourself, establish boundaries and priorities, travel, push through the fear and conquer the unknown. Own the unknowable. Get advice from as many people as possible about how to do what you want to do, not just about the best thing for you to do. Stick to your guns.

In first and second year . . .

Pay more attention in Anatomy class. Actually, forget that. You were probably better off break dancing at the back of the room when no one was paying attention. Study just enough to pass your exams, real medicine won’t start for another two years. Anatomists and physiologists are not real doctors, but they can still fail you. It gets better. It does.

In third year . . .

Read the small books and commit them to memory – the OHCM is going to follow you for the rest of your life. Do not ever trust the administration to get things right. Have at least five white jackets to start with, add more as necessary. Spend your time on Paediatrics learning Paediatrics, not feeding and consoling fussy babies. Switch consultants if you have to. Don’t lose your enthusiasm for participating in clinical duties; pace yourself. Don’t assume it’s always going to be this exciting because it. won’t. be.

In fourth year . . .

Leave UHWI every chance you get. Deliver your elective assessment to the Dean’s office yourself; no one is going to do it for you. Give up on ENT classes from early (you’ll only sleep through them); spend all your time reading instead. Pay more attention to ECGs on Emergency Medicine. Pick the rural places for community health; the people are nicer. Do not start the habit of calling ‘Empathy point!’ every time a student says something supportive during a history/counselling station. Read more Radiology than you think is necessary.

Start MBBS prep from now – find a study group you’re comfortable with, who moves at your pace. Get organized with PPQs and lectures and notes from the graduating class. Do it now so you don’t have so much to do later.

In fifth year . . .

Prepare for each clerkship like it’s the final exam. Take really good notes on everything – that way you can revise your notes and not the whole textbook. Ignore the consultant who tells the third years not to end up like you. No guilt-tripping about your study habits. As early as possible, ensure the Dean’s office has all your elective forms. Spend less time in the classroom and more time assisting at procedures or reading on your own.  Keep a tight hold on the small books (Surgical Recall, OHCM, Toronto Notes).

Medical school drags its feet when you’re stuck in the middle or at the beginning, but when you look back from the end of the road you fully appreciate the whirlwind/ thunderstorm/ cacophony of experiences you’ve lived through. It is a lot to live through but you can survive it; you can even do it well, if you try hard enough.

Back to the House of God: some short reflections

1.

Final exams loom, a distressingly diminishing number of days away. Calendars are the enemy now and every sunset inspires a mixture of awe and resentment. Days and weeks and months are finite, fickle creatures.

2.

I reread Samuel Shem’s cynical exposé on medical training in North America because I needed to remind myself what I was working toward in the weeks after exams. House of God isn’t a particularly encouraging novel, but throughout the story hope rises like the Wing of Zock: unstoppable and overpowering.

3.

In this season of fasting (not Lent) I will have to give up so many of my vices: novels, writing, the internet, sleep. Oh, sleep, I will miss you. A fourth year student asked me what I would do come June 3 when the last of my exams are over.

“I’d run naked,” she suggested. Oblivious to our incredulity, she continued. “As I walk out of the exam, I’d be unhooking my bra, pulling down the straps.” She trailed off in slow-motion speech, lost in a fantastical daydream.

I intend to sleep the sleep of the guilt-free. It’s been so long since I had guilt-free sleep, I’m probably going to get an ulcer. Just one time I would like to put my head on a pillow and not have the voice in my head (which sounds uncannily like one of my friends) demand that I cease this nonsense and get on with studying.

4.

This morning while waiting on the bus that shuttles us to the hospital, I stared across the expanse of sea and horizon, thinking.

I feel like I’m being wound-up, I wrote in my journal, like an old-fashioned wrist watch. Will I fall apart when the time comes, or spring smoothly into action like some well-oiled gears?

Do any of us know how we will perform when we need to? I think everyone feels some tension at this point, regardless of ambition. Even those of us who are certain of passing (there are always some) are still anxious about graduating with honours or distinctions.

There’s so much at stake, so much at risk. I calm myself by remembering that this too shall pass.

*

P. S.

Thursdays have sort of turned into book sharing time, so I’m sorry if this wasn’t what you expected. But! If you read this far, know that I have been reading way more fiction than I should, and if you want a recommendation Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning is absolute soul-disturbing perfection and you should go read it now (Also, he and Amanda are pregnant so yay).

It’s so rare that I recommend a newly published book – am I doing it right?

Dear UWI: Please Wear Your Size

Once upon a time medical school class sizes numbered about 40 people. The student : consultant and student : patient ratios were low. Everyone had an equal opportunity to see and touch and hear things. Future doctors had to know all the things, had to write essays, had only a handful of textbooks and a ward full of patients. All was right in the world.

The good old days.

Then came the surge in tertiary education accessibility and this strange idea that everyone who was bright had to do science i.e. medicine. What followed was a welcome blossoming of the medical field. Now we had extra doctors to fill in the gaps previously patched up by family nurse practitioners and old doctors long past retirement. All was even better with the world.

But the numbers kept climbing. What started as a welcome trickle soon became an unstoppable torrent and the volume of graduates was starting to spill over the buckets we had to catch them. It’s been going on for a while, but in the last three years it’s been getting a lot more noticeable.

It’s not just the numbers that are the problem, either. Historically, UWI doctors have a reputation for being unparalleled clinicians because of the overwhelming amount of exposure we’re supposed to get on the wards. Our consultants tell us stories about being in final year and getting a stipend for acting as interns. They’re full of back in the day type stories but to us they’re just that: stories.

Our reality is lecturers who are a hundred miles away, histology specimens on LCD screens and anatomy labs where we balance precariously on high stools praying we don’t fall face-first into the formalin.  Our reality is two junior students plus one senior student assigned to one patient in addition to the team that’s actually taking care of them.

Our reality is the super clever students answering all the questions meanwhile those of us who are not so clever mill around at the back of a ward round with 20-odd people without quite following the discussion. Our reality is a million different textbooks and the indefatigable expanse of the internet and consultants who constantly contradict themselves. Sometimes medical school is also a negotiation of egos.

Everyone knows one of these people.

Older consultants complain that the quality of the UWI medical student is declining. It’s true. When female med students show up in rompers to the hospital, or when a med student back-chats a consultant in exams, or when they can quote Bailey and Love’s back at you but don’t know the first thing about their patient’s procedures. These all represent a shift from previous standards, a downward shift.

But between the student and the consultant lies the administration. And the administration seems somehow disconnected from the goings on of the very people they administer to. Class sizes are uncomfortably large and the university responds by building basic sciences buildings big enough to fit everyone in. But the clinical spaces are the same size as they were five, ten, fifteen years ago.

There are not enough hospitals, not enough consultants who volunteer to be associate lecturers (I have to say volunteer because one common complaint about UWI is that they never pay anyone), and most importantly not enough patients.

We overwhelm everyone when we step onto the wards, every single time. There are only so many variations on ‘There are so many of you!’ that one can hear before one gets fed up.

‘You won’t all fit’,

‘You can’t all go at once’,

‘Some of you have to stay outside’,

‘Decide which one of you gets to do it’.

Please. It’s not our fault our class is this big. None of us have dropped out yet.

Yet despite the glut of doctors on the market and the increasing difficulties faced by medical students on the wards and in clinic the UWI doesn’t think to cut back on medical school entrants. They’re rolling out the red carpet for everyone. Everyone who can afford it, that is.

Grades aren’t a good enough criteria any more: everyone has Grade Is and IIs in CAPE, and co-curricular activities, and higher than 3.3 GPAs so now it’s the ability to actually afford medical school that separates the wheat from the chaff.

Actually, one does.

And once you can afford to get in, the long ago shift from essay questions to MCQs makes it infinitely easier to keep passing exams and make it to final year, MBBS and graduation. The standard of medical student isn’t the only standard that’s dropping here.

I wish our university would realize that trying to fit 500 medical students into a system with nowhere near that kind of capacity is like trying to pour 160lbs into size 2 jeans. The non-stretch kind. There is no stretch in this cotton, UWI.

We are the adipose pushing at your waistband, and one day the seams will burst.

UWI Bites Off More than They Can Chew (What Else is New?)

2015 will see the graduation of the largest medical class the University of the West Indies has ever produced. In the face of dwindling economic resources and rising costs of health care the 2015 cohort is a case of too many crabs and not enough barrels.

Last year the government struggled to find positions for the new batch of interns, having to stretch the usual quota of four basic rotations in internship year to include sub-specialties. This year, we have almost twice as many students graduating, provided we all pass final MBBS (and given our propensity to surpass the expectations of our administrators it’s very likely we all will). It’s begging the question: what are they going to do with us?

Rumours abound of strategies the government is trying to put in place to catch us all. But the catching will be clumsy if the rumours are to be believed. Some people murmur that a number of interns will be deferred from taking up posts until January of the following year. Others whisper that a shift system will be implemented allowing each intern to work for eight hours a day – this comes with the abolition of duties and (distressingly) the abolition of duty pay. But it’s all he said, she said, Chinese telephone.

Then there is the idea of the flexi-week. Recently decried by the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, the flexi-week is a modification of the 40 hour work week that would allow employees and employers to come to individualized agreements on the distribution of working hours. The government wanted to implement this bill on April 1 but JMDA cried foul, admonishing Parliament for not holding discussions with key stake-holders (namely, doctors).

It is strange that on the cusp of entering the workforce, so much of the dialogue about the changes affecting that workforce is happening over our heads. We have a right to information that will affect how we live, work and do business in the upcoming years and it isn’t fair to withhold this information on the basis that we have not yet passed exams (if that is indeed the basis). Transparency is key or else, much like our transition through medical school, our transition into internship will be a rude awakening.

No one in my year batch knows just what awaits us on July 1, 2015. There are so many questions that need to be answered. Where will we be placed? How many hours will we have to work? How will we be paid? How will we afford to repay our loans?

UWI answers these questions with: We need a new hall of residence. We need a new faculty building. We need a new administrative building. We need an extension to the university hospital. As long as the input (students) generates revenue, the by-product (doctors) can muddle along as it pleases. Or doesn’t please, as the case may be.

Can we have the health ministry intervening to put a cap on the number of medical students the UWI can accept in any one year? There are so many disadvantages to large medical classes it would take an entire post to enumerate them all. Suffice to say the risk far outweighs the benefit.

Open Address to the MBBS Class of 2015

I’m not the voice of my generation. I’m not even the voice of my class. Most days I’m barely even a voice of my own. I don’t know the inside jokes. I miss out on the popular trends. But we’re all connected, somehow, whether we notice it or not.

Dear us,

Five years is a lifetime. Five years can change everything.

Five years ago we tumbled together into the Faculty, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Our hopes were high, our motives pure, our determination to succeed unparalleled. Five years ago this year was a pipe dream. Five years ago, graduation was our guiding star: ever-present but untouchable.

2K15 (2KMillion) has led us through blistering deserts of miscommunication, frigid mountaintops of uninspiring lecturers and desperate ocean depths of pre-exam panic. It has led us through overflowing buses and less than savoury accommodations, unsympathetic administrators and unsatisfactory grades.

It has led us this far. We’re within sight of our finish line and our guiding star is so bright it’s blinding.

The End draws near, and the day of our final judgement approaches with all the unstoppability of an arctic glacier. Inevitable, like the tide. And we poor scuttling creatures on the ocean floor wittering worriedly about life on shore will be flung awake, gasping, like a patient in the throes of left ventricular failure, left to crawl or swim or die.

This part of our lives will soon be over. It is unsettling to realize – monumental as this era seemed – that much like everything else in this ephemeral universe, med school too shall pass.

Well Read Robin’s Anti-Medicine Tips Issue #2

People who can’t stand to see people suffering shouldn’t do medicine. This sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll come to understand that everyone suffers and sometimes you can’t do anything about it.

People with sob stories shouldn’t do medicine. Your sob story ceases to matter once you get to the hospital. No one ever feels sorry for doctors.

People who are easily offended shouldn’t do medicine. Everything is offensive here: the patients, your colleagues, the smell of surgical wards. . .

People who are narrow-minded shouldn’t do medicine. The ability to think outside the box is indispensable to practicing in a third-world, limited-resource setting. The ability to treat all patients equally and without discrimination is also a useful asset.

People who are in it for the money shouldn’t do medicine. Seriously? Go do business. Who wants to spend 10+ years studying and then another 10+ years building your private practice so you can finally afford the house of your dreams? No one.

People with an aversion to normal social interactions should do medicine. From the awkward to the downright bizarre, medicine is chock-full of strange people discussing stranger things.