Before anyone reads this and thinks I’ve been admitted into hospital, I’ll clarify and say that I’m back on clinical placement, in a medical student capacity. Our medical school asked for some final years to volunteer themselves to start their “transition to clinical practise” program earlier than originally scheduled. This way, placements can be staggered so we don’t have all 350 students on at the same time across various hospitals. It’s also a critical time for us to learn the ropes and understand the role of interns, therefore it’s imperative we get as much experience as possible before a potential “second wave” comes in that could wipe us out from hospitals again.
Therefore I’ll apologise now if it seems like the time between my posts appear to stretch out a little longer, as I’m going to be a little busier from now on. These past few weeks have also been stressful for me, as I have been preoccupied with intern applications, which are due to close later TODAY when we sit our online, recorded interviews. I’m nervous, to say the least, and despite my academic accomplishments, I’m paranoid I’ll put my foot in my mouth and say something that deters every hospital from ever wanting to see me on their premises. I know it’s highly unlikely and I’ve done enough practise that I shouldn’t stand out in a bad way, but the irrational fear is always there. I suppose the good thing is that I am guaranteed a job somewhere and as my mentor has specified, even if you don’t stand out as an outstanding candidate, being middle-of-the-pack is better than sticking out for being bad. So, as long as I don’t say something truly stupid, I will be part of the majority who pass through and perform decently.
The hardest thing for me is to keep my responses succinct and avoid rambling. We have 3 minutes to complete a question, although you can move on if you finish earlier (there are 5 questions overall). My mentor (who is also the interview examiner at my current hospital) has encouraged me to not use more than half the allocated time, as many of the assessors will have hundreds of interviews to work through and will undoubtedly have a limited attention span. 90 seconds. That’s all I have to demonstrate I’m the perfect candidate. It’s doable I’m sure, but definitely a challenge for me. Aside from the fact I tend to ramble and repeat myself a little when I’m nervous, I’m also the type of person who despite finishing an exam early, will never hand it in until the last second. My motto has always been to maximise my time in case I’ve made a mistake I can fix, or suddenly experience a miracle from above and remember answers to a question I was dumbfounded by minutes before. I’m always worried I’ve left something out and will diligently sit there checking my answers, no matter how confident I am. So, it goes against every fibre in my being to limit myself to half the time allowed, especially when it takes at least 30 seconds for me to set up a response before I even elaborate upon it. Therefore, I’ve avoided practising it that way as I know it’s impossible for me and I don’t want to stress myself out and rush every answer. I can only hope if I compromise and aim for 2-2.5 minutes it’ll be acceptable and seem succinct enough. I also can’t be certain that my mentor can speak on behalf of every recruiting hospital, and it’s really hard to know what different health services prefer and look for when they’re examining candidates. The problem with this centralised process, instead of the usual separate interviews for each hospital, is that we can’t tailor any of our responses. We have to maintain a balance between catering towards hospitals that are high up on our preference list and keeping it general enough that we don’t other potential employers. The only good thing is that it’s efficient and we only have to do one interview. So that’s that.
Anyways, back to being back at the hospital. I have to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I had become complacent at home and enjoyed having zero responsibilities and human contact. I relished not waking up and it still being dark. I loved not needing to stumble downstairs, bleary-eyed and exhausted before the day had even begun. I loved being a couch potato and as you might imagine, last week was a dark time for me as I came to terms with becoming a functional member of society again. I’m a lazy person, what can I say?
But it’s been really nice. Aside from the fact that I’m still not used to getting up at 5:30am, I’ve had a pretty good time so far. Mind you, I’ve only had 3 days of placement so it’s a bit too early to jump to conclusions. I’m attached to the respiratory team (not COVID-related) and I am in love with how sweet and lovely everyone is. They tell me to go home early when there’s not much going on and the resident keeps reminding me this is my final year to flee the hospital at any time without the burden of responsibilities. The registrar always insists on buying us all coffee after the morning ward round (I don’t drink much of it and feel guilty spending his money so often fight to decline). He is a darling and has a wealth of trivial knowledge on all sorts of topics. I haven’t learnt much on the medical side of things, but I certainly know a lot more about agriculture and farming than I did before this Monday. Did you know that if free-range chickens become too free-range and the density of chicken to land becomes too low, they’re more likely to bully each other and develop injuries? That the best kind of eggs are barnyard and moderately-priced free-range? I also discovered what crop rotations are and that a possible way to live forever is to have a salt-free diet.
Okay, that last one was probably a joke. But nonetheless, despite being exhausted most days, I’m having an alright time. Once this week finishes and my fate is left is someone else’s hands, I’ll be a lot happier and more with it. It’s a funny thing to think, but hospitals might be the best places to be right now. Everyone is strict about hygiene and we’re all conscious about COVID. The only thing we struggle with is maintaining social distancing, as when you have so many different medical teams each with at least 5 people trying to visit patients in small rooms, it becomes impossible to stay 1.5m apart. We try, but it’s often simply impossible. Also, the hospital is a rather quiet place at the moment, it seems people don’t want to come in unless it’s urgent. I wonder whether things will pick up in a few weeks once more social distancing rules begin to lax. I guess we’ll find out.
Before I finish I also want to emphasise that despite what I’ve said about being time poor, I am determined to keep writing and won’t disappear for good. Hopefully being back in a clinical setting will give me more content to discuss! I’ll admit, I was starting to worry I’d run out of ideas to talk about, since for the past 2 months I’ve been doing nothing but sitting idly at home, twiddling my thumbs and watching YouTube videos. The only productive thing I’ve done is progress about a quarter of the way through a 5,000 piece puzzle. And I’m not talented enough to turn that into a riveting post (although I’m contemplating the challenge).
That’s all from me for now! I’ll be a lot more relaxed when you see me next and maybe will have more interesting topics to talk about. I hope everyone is doing well and finding a good routine in their lives. There’s a lot going on right now and it’s important we stay connected and stand together. Look after yourselves and take care.