After doing an immense amount of study in the pre-clinical part of the course, there is an air of confidence that surrounds you as a student. This should be a piece of cake, you might think to yourself. However one rude shock after another, we are reminded of how little we know.
Being placed at a big city hospital has its ups and downs. One of the more annoying things is the amount of ridiculous specialisation within each branch of medicine. An example of this is when I was on the heart specific (cardiac) wards and we came across a patient with giant cell arteritis of all things. Here I was trying to get my head around the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack, while the consultant thought it was funny to quiz me about a condition he himself, had never seen before! After he threw that immunosuppression curve ball my way, we all had a good laugh about how little we actually know, found the guidelines for the condition’s treatment and moved on.
As a first year clinical student, this happens all the time. There is a wealth of knowledge within each specialty, it is ridiculous to think any individual could possibly have all that stored away. You quickly come to realise that you’re back to being the clueless kid you once were when you started primary, high school and undergrad.
Appreciating the fact that you will be a life-long student becomes both a burden and a relief. A burden because you know your head will be buried in a book for the rest of your life, but a relief because you know that to stop learning is to die whilst you’re alive. This is true for any career path or lifestyle you choose to pursue.
I’ve been told multiple times about how I’ll be studying for the rest of my life, but didn’t fully comprehend the meaning of that statement. The latest venturing into the complex world of clinical medicine has helped cement that point. As crazy as it sounds, I look forward to putting that into practice.