Becoming Doctors: Real Life Experiences

By: smahemtecks


I am very pleased to share with you all, an interview that I conducted a week ago in talks with a current Year 1 medical student at UBC.
She has requested to remain anonymous on this blog post.

Here is the Q & A:

1. Could you give us a brief breakdown of what the daily routine of a medical student is like so far?

Early Mornings: Problem-based learning (PBL) in small groups  (of about 8 or 9 students plus one faculty member/tutor). The aim is to look at different patient cases every week and work as a team to break down what we need to know in order to treat the patient and attend to his/her concerns.

Late Morning/Early Afternoon: Full class lectures, topics vary from week to week. For example, this past week we had lectures on embryology, prenatal care, pharmacology, anatomy of the back and spinal cord and basic histology

Late Afternoons: either histology or gross anatomy lab to correspond with the lectures, or clinical skills lectures and workshops where we learn about working with patients in a clinical settings (ex. conducting patient interviews, taking vital signs)

Question 2: What are the similarities and differences you observed or experienced between your time in undergrad and medical school?

There are quite a lot of similarities between the two. Since it is the first year of medical school, the structure of learning is still very lecture-based, theory-based with labs and a lot of self-directed learning. However, the differences is the added fact of having classes on top of ‘lecture based style’ that focuses more on clinical application with a smaller group learning environment.

Question 3: Medical school is overwhelming and stressful, what are some coping mechanisms you have used or will use?

I will motivate myself to always take time off for myself every once in a while, maybe every Friday nights. I also want to join clubs that aren’t necessarily related to my current field but more of fun activities like a hiking club.

Question 4: Do you find that there is a sense of community within the medical profession? Or is there still competition?

I am not sure about other medical schools, however at UBC medical school I feel a strong sense of community from my fellow colleagues. We all have the same goal in the end and so I feel that everyone knows that we have to help each other in order to be competent healthcare professionals.

Question 5: Could you tell us a brief description of what kind of courses you are required to take in medical school? (Is is specific or still general science?)

Before, classes focused on the general science and worked its way over the semester to specify into specific topics. However, the lectures now are very specific and varies week to week. So in a sense, I feel like it could be a semester worth of material covered in one week.

Question 6: There are many medical professions in the health care system, how come you picked to pursue a career as a Doctor, where high levels of stress, long hours are required (meaning less personal and family time)?

I have researched other health care professions before deciding to pursue a career in medicine. Unlike pharmacy, a doctor allows me to pursue my specific interests in science (ex. cardiology, respiratory, obstetrics). Secondly, I want to be in the most direct and proactive involvement in patient care, which is often challenging.

Question 7: Has it been hard to motivate yourself to continue to study for additional  years?

I have always loved school so the amount of education needed to become a doctor was never an issue for me. The combination of traditional science lectures and clinical/problem-based learning helps me gain valuable knowledge and experience from my studies. It actually feels more like ‘work’ instead of ‘studying’.

Question 8: What are some tips or advice that you can give to ‘working doctors or medical students’ in on staying healthy?

This is a great question, I am actually still trying to figure out myself as I go along. I think the ones I can think of right now are:

  • Always know your limits
  • Make time for yourself, your family and your friends
  • Surround yourself with supportive and positive people
  • Take time to exercise and eat healthy

Question 9: what are some tips or advice that you can give to prospective medical students that you wish you knew?

At the end of the day, do what you love. If you are pursuing medicine for the wrong reasons – then you will have a hard time enjoying the process of medical school. There are many professions out there and just because society thinks going through medical school is the best option, sometimes it’s not. I just happen to love the education and field of it, and was lucky enough to be able to pursue this career.

If you do decide that you want to pursue this career. Take anatomy courses in undergrad because it is probably the most important and difficult course in medical school.

For more information about problem-based learning, click here to read an article about the positive effects of PBL on clinical performance.


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