At around this time last year, I kept bumping into friends who were eager to talk about third year and tell me how awesome and easy and relaxing it was.
Well, not quite. If you’ve just come out of second year, there are forms of mediaeval torture that sound as though they’d be awesome and easy and relaxing. I was irritatingly cheerful for most of last year — up ’til the weekend before the exams, when I made up for it with a four-day meltdown — and, now that I’m safely on the other side, even I can admit that it was a little bit like living through a horror film.
I love third year. Sure, I’ve been exceptionally lucky and ended up with a good hospital, a fantastic GP practice, and a comm skills tutor who’s totally bonkers in the best way possible, but even if I left all that aside, I think this year is still just better. That’s not to say that there’s nothing that makes me want to find an exceptionally solid brick wall to thump my head against. Integration Week was more dire than I’d predicted, and the Avoiding Plagiarism lecture wasn’t even the worst of it. My timetable is not totally devoid of pointless FRSs. But those things are the exception, not the rule. This year is all about the transition between the comfortable familiarity of pre-clinical medicine (because although we’d like to pretend otherwise, the divide between ‘pre-clinical’ and ‘clinical’ hasn’t been rendered obsolete by even the best of integrated courses) and the sheer blinding terror of fourth year rotations. We’re learning how to be clinical medical students. It shines through in almost everything we do these days, even PBL.
Awesome, yes. Easy and relaxing? Not so much.
On my timetable for just this week, I had two afternoons of PBL in hospital (which involves a commute), a full day in my GP practice (which involves an even longer commute), a lab on respiratory anatomy, four hours of lectures, a three-hour comm skills session, and some clinical skills teaching on peripheral vascular disease. And somewhere in there, I still needed to actually do PBL. There was very little in there that I didn’t enjoy and even less that wasn’t worthwhile, but I was ready to fall down by the time Friday night rolled around.
The reason for this post was so that I could say this to my junior colleagues:
Right now, you’re in the medical school equivalent of purgatory. It’s brutal and exhausting and soul-destroying. So, you grit your teeth and push on, you take everything you can from it, and you take comfort in knowing that it goes by fast. You look forward to third year as a bright, shining beacon of hope and joy and blessed, blessed relief. It is all of those things and you are going to love it. But if any third year should try to claim that it’s a piss-take, you should feel free to smack them in the nose.