Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

Reflections on Med School


Last night I attended my Medical School Reunion. It was 10 years ago that we sat our final exams, and ducked out from the anonymity of studenthood.

I was really nervous about attending the reunion, because I felt it would be a celebration of achievement. What else could I expect when 80-odd overachievers get together and catch up on the last 10 years?

My post med-school career has been unconventional, by Melbourne standards. I often talk about how I start a lot of stuff, but haven’t managed to finish anything yet. I have completed one year of general surgical training (out of four), been working on a PhD for 5 calendar years (three academic years), almost finished creating my family, only just starting raising my family….

Most of the doctors that met last night were either finished or finishing their fellowships in their chosen fields. They were in their permanent practice location. Some were even totally grown up – families, houses, exams far behind them, simply living and working nine to five (Seven to seven, with weekends and on call).

However some doctors were trapped, in one way or another. A woman who was forced into pure gynaecology because she couldn’t combine more kids and the vicious on call of obstetrics. An only child who had a bedtime of 9pm because both parents work late. A radiologist waiting to have children because his wife couldn’t figure out how to break her career. An armed forces doctor who was told to become a GP, and now is looking at retraining in Psych with a with a young family. A trainee who traded photos of her guinea pigs with the baby photos of others.

I don’t think all these problems are specific to medicine, but just to the way life works. If you do manage to achieve everything, it takes a long time and comes with lots of compromise.

A “famous” man (as seen on medical reality TV) told me last night that the only solution was to get it all finished in the end – then it looks like you planned it.

Pic credit: That’s me. Just out of Med school.

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