Quick back story: I’ve been schooling here in Nigeria for just over 5 years, and it has certainly been an experience worth writing about. Of course, 5 years+ cannot possibly be summarized into one post, so I will just give a snippet to the clinical side of medical school. When I was still in the pre-clinical phase and people used to say “you’re not yet a medical student” I used to take such great offence; like excuse you Mr, my ID card says MBBS, put some respek on my name – but by the time I crossed over into the clinical phase – mennnn I didn’t need to be told twice that I was basically Jon Snow prior to 4th year… in relation to what medical school was really about.
So let me jump straight into clinical medical school: it is brutal. There’s no other word to describe it that befits it such as “brutal”. It is grueling, strenuous and endurance-testing. Medical school tasks you on a physical, mental and social level.
You are always tired. Even when you wake up you’re tired. You wake up early and sleep late. I don’t just mean 6am-11pm. There are no official working hours. If a special surgery is starting at 10pm that could go on till 2am – you are expected to attend the surgery AND still go for Ward Round by 7am the next morning. The rule is – “what if you were the only doctor on call? Would you leave that patient to die?” I’m always like but I’m not a doctor yet!” (In my head of course) whilst dragging myself to the operating theatre.
Ever heard of the medical student syndrome? It’s when Medical Students read about a disease entity and begin to relate things they’ve noticed in their bodies, no matter how minutely related those things are, to the diseases they’re studying about. It is crazy. What a normal person would think is just a headache will have some medical students thinking of craniopharyngioma or something absurd. Then there’s the constant percussion. “You – yes, you – give me ten causes of tachycardia before I count 5”.
If you make the mistake of only getting 9, you’re on your way for punishment. Punishment isn’t writing lines or being banned from class. It’s something like being on a 4 hourly blood pressure check for every patient in the male medical ward for a week. So you will have to go to the Ward EVERY 4 HOURS to record each patient’s blood pressure and if you’re unlucky enough and there are newly diagnosed hypertensive patients, you’ll have to empathize with them and give health education to each one about how to manage their disease – all whilst still having classes, Ward rounds, clerkings, call duty…the list is endless.
Do I really have to explain this? Let’s start from no stipulated holidays – especially in private schools were ASUU can’t come and give you a compulsory break; so automatically you don’t go home. You miss family vacations (this one hurts me seriously deep down) you miss major opportunities that take long periods of time; basically you miss a lot of life. Then even as you’re missing all that, being inside the school still sucks up your time. You can barely answer calls, you have to become a pro at texting without looking at your phone screen…mate this life is just not for the weak.
The bright side
It makes you a really really strong, resilient doctor…if you survive that is.
The real bright side
It doesn’t last forever!