Archive for November, 2010

Kodak moment (or the one where I get annoyed at cheerful street art)

November 16, 2010

This is what I see when I go for a meandering plod run along the water. There is seriously one of these every 10 metres along the walking track. It cracks me up most of the time. If I’m not having a happy day however, it makes me want to punch the concrete smiley sun face.

Right in the smiley concrete sun mouth.

(This, combined with the soothing classical music they pump out of the bus stop speakers makes me think someone involved in our City Council is doing a psych experiment…)


No Doubt (or why Gwen Stefani was onto something…)

November 15, 2010

There isn’t a single one of us who has overcome the human condition of self doubt. Whether you’re a supremely confident person, a content Zen monk, a successful writer … it doesn’t matter. You have doubts about yourself. The question is whether these doubts stop you from doing amazing things, from leading the life you want to lead.

– Leo Babauta

I started reading zenhabits about 3 1/2 years ago when I was working in one of those jobs you work in because you need to pay your rent. My job involved lots of screen time and we couldn’t really leave for lunch so I’d flick over zenhabits articles instead and drink a green tea and pretend I was in a park with fresh air and not in an industrial estate office perched next to a major highway exit. It was an escape.

I had a lot of doubts about what I was capable of. I didn’t have a huge interest in what I’d just graduated in. And if I did, there were no jobs to be had. I could see myself working in the industrial estate call centre indefinately, heating up my lunch everyday in that dingy microwave that smelt like tuna. I’d started to answer my mobile with the company phrase “WelcometoBlahBlahmynameisblahblahowcanIhelpyoutoday? uh, hi mum…” The pay was good and there was talk of a promotion. Growth. You can go places with us.

It was articles like this, about overcoming those doubts, that convinced me I could sit the GAMSAT. Just give it a go. Have a crack. Or as my brother always rambles “You don’t know what you don’t know” (although I’m not sure he knows exactly what it means because he’ll say it in response to anything…I think he thinks it makes him sound deep)

It was a chance to get off the treadmill of 14 hour+ shifts working for someone else. I’m sure one day I’ll dream of the days of 14 hr shifts. I know that for the best part of the next decade I’ll be someone else’s shit kicker. But it feels different. It still feels like I’m doing all the hard work for me.

The doubt is still there. The inability to answer the simple question “how did your exams go?” is there. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel ‘great’ about finishing something but with these last exams I’ve felt the, uh, least shit? I hope feeling the least shit counts for something.

My brother-in-laws girlfriend had been trying to get into med in the Netherlands for a few years (they have a lottery system). She finally won a place this year. There were celebrations. She had wanted to do it since she was a kid. So she left her economics course, moved herself over to the med school and started.

Then she quit. Because she fucking hated it and it squashed all her light and twinkle and happy times.

Now she’s back doing economics and my mother-in-law says she thinks she had done the right thing because she “is back in herself” (I live for these dutchlish conversations of ours…). The twinkle is back. She has no more doubts about if she’s missing out or not. While I might have background doubts about my performance, or my ability, I don’t have doubts about if I’m doing the right thing. I felt like I wasn’t myself for a few years before I sat the GAMSAT.Within a few weeks of starting med, I felt…back in myself.

Sooooo, go read zenhabits. Then try and tell me you don’t want to follow your dreams and shit.



Resting station

November 13, 2010

Woke up with a dry mouth, throbbing positional headache and faint nausea. And then it hit me:
No stress.
Even the pounding in my head couldn’t take away from the feeling of post-exam-freedom. End of the year post-exam-freedom. End of pre-clinical-years-post-exam-freedom. Free-fucking-dom.

I spent four hours making a cake for my niece because I can do that kind of shit now. I’m on a resting station until early January.

A resting station in exam terms is the seat that you get to sit on thanks to some gracious examiner who decided people would perform better in exams if given a little bit of time out. Our anatomy exams have rest stations every two or three specimens. A little seat with a picture of Monets, van Goghs, or my favourite, “The Scream”. Its really hard to sit at a rest station without laughing at people. We are in ridiculous predicament. The buzzer is buzzing every 90 seconds. We are scratching our heads, moving our legs to myotome dances and pulling “wtf” faces.

The OSCEs are not much better. We get kind of delirious after one and a half hours of anatomy and then the prospect of 3.5hrs of OSCEs. The seven minute resting stations are spent trying not to laugh at each other. Which then makes us laugh.

Wanna be best friends?

November 6, 2010

The single most important thing you need in medical school is not the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine (although I highly recommend it).

It is not an unlimited account at Officeworks.

It is not the brain of a ninja mensa prodigy child.


The single most important thing you need in medical school is friends.

If I could urge new med students to do one thing, it would be to make friends with as many people as you can. Get your nice face on. Go to every social occasion, party, drinks after pbl. Channel Jim Carrey in that B-Grade movie that I never saw but could get the entire synopsis by watching the trailer – “Yes-Man”. Say yes to everything. Be NICE to everyone. Don’t write anyone off as weird or creepy, or boring. They’re probably just shy, or tired or on drugs or poorly socialised as a child and kept in a box under the stairs. That doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend right? EVERYONE is going to be your friend.

Why? These people will save your life one day. They will send you an amazing flow chart. They will offer to explain blood pressure regulation. They will bake. My god, will they bake. They will swap notes with you even when yours are terrible. They will explain things in anatomy through song. They will forge your name when miss sign on for a compulsory class. They will go crazy with you during study week and think it’s perfectly normal when you walk into their study room, touch their arm and exclaim desperately  “I just need human contact”. They will kill themselves laughing at your ridiculous musculoskeletal exam and then teach you how to do it properly. They will silently place a hot chocolate in your library cubicle. They will go with you to exam feedback meetings and sternly argue your case. They will conspire to ‘acquire’ as many cannulas as possible to facilitate extracurricular learning. If they’re in the year above, they will give you all their notes, past exam papers and genuinely enquire how you’re doing with each block (and you will do the same to the year below you). They will make everything about this workload, this course, this shitload of note taking and struggling, easier. They will save your life.

And you will find yourself willing to jump off a bridge for them.

If you’re not sold on the warm and fuzzy angle consider;  mathematically, the more contacts you have, the larger your resource pool, the larger your board to bounce ideas off, the larger your support network and the larger your tequila-appreciation circle.  If you want to really step it up, get friendly with the staff. A friendly face as an OSCE marker can be enough to calm your heart rate so that you don’t kill the resus dummy.

Maybe it’s my perception of the culture  in our particular cohort. Maybe it’s the emphasis on our course being ‘non-competitive’.*  Maybe I’ve been reading too many “Buddha’s Tips for Life” pocket books and am slightly delirious at the end of an epic study week. Whatever the reason, I would like buy most people in our school a drink.**

I kind of love you.

*we don’t get given our marks, and are not competing against each other for glory, high ranking places or anything like that. It is US vs Medschool and we are eternally bound together by our incessant fight against admin.

**uh, and I totally would, except my funds from Julia Gillard et al are not quite sufficient right now. raincheck?