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Posts Tagged ‘starting medical school’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: Life doesn’t stop when you’re in medical school

Griffith Medical School student Cameron Bowers would like to share some valuable advice for everyone considering studying medicine in Australia!

Griffith Medical School

Life doesn’t slow down when you’re in medical school!

We are so focused on the future.
I just need to finish my undergrad, then I’ll…
I just need to study for the MCAT, then I’ll…
When I finish with med school applications, then I’ll…
After I get prepared for medical school to start I’ll…
Once I get settled into med school I’ll…

But the truth is that life doesn’t ever really settle down, especially in this career that is so future-focused. It’s always about the next degree, the next exam, the next placement, the next specialty.

I was naïve in thinking that life would somehow magically settle down once I was finally in medical school, a goal I’d been working towards for years. That my days would just be classes, study groups and late nights of self-studying. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things happen, but life doesn’t stop just because you’re in medical school.

All of the normal stressors are there, just take away energy and time to deal with them.

When you go abroad for school you add new issues to deal with. They say Canadians actually have the hardest time with culture shock because it feels so similar to Canada here that it’s easy to forget it’s a different country—until something very different happens. Take holidays for example. Fun fact in Australia, all the supermarkets are closed on certain holidays (e.g., closed Good Friday but open Easter Sunday and Monday). It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you forget that all grocery stores in the country are closed on a certain day it can be rather difficult to get the last ingredients you need for dinner, potentially leading you to buying mozzarella cheese from a pizza restaurant.

When you’re far away for school your friends and family’s lives don’t stop either. Things happen and you suddenly have to learn how to deal with it while being 16 hours in the future. Phone calls and texts require an eight-hour delay sometimes for a reply. The best time to call home is in the morning, but those moments are limited because classes start at 8:30 a.m. most days. By the time you’re out of class at 4 p.m. it’s too late to call North America.

medical students

Try to take time for some adventure!

The truth is it’s hard to manage it all while attempting to stay on top of school. A lot of times I put school first and my to-do list grows week to week, but the pace of medical school doesn’t allow for anything other than full focus. I laughed the other day remembering what is was like to procrastinate when I was in my undergrad. There’s no option to procrastinate in medical school. You stop for a minute and everyone has already ran past you.

I wish I could offer some concrete advice for how to manage it all, but the truth is I am still trying to figure all this out. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world: exercising, studying effectively, marking off my to-do list, eating healthy, making time for my relationship, making time for myself. But other days attending seven hours of lecture with only a 30-minute break in the middle is all I can accomplish and I try to tell myself that it’s okay.

It’s okay to not have all the answers right now. It’s okay to not pre-read for lectures for the sake of sleep the night before. It’s okay to have breakdowns and let it all out. It’s okay to wake up the next morning and be excited that you’re in medical school and one day you will become a doctor.

So for now, all I can say is wherever you are in your life and your career journey, try to be present and enjoy it. Life doesn’t happen in the future, and learning to be present, while never easy, is so important because none of us has a guarantee of what the future will bring.

Cameron
Griffith Medical School student

Follow Cameron on Instagram! @noborders.md

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Would you like more details about Australian medical schools? Contact OzTREKK’s Medicine Admissions Officer Amanda Rollich at amanda@oztrekk.com to learn more about your options!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

OzTREKK Ambassadors: My first impressions of Griffith Medical School

OzTREKK Ambassador Cameron Bowers has just begun her journey at Griffith Medical School, and she’s here to share her very first impressions!

Griffith medical school

First day at Griffith Medical School!

My first day

I’d been dreaming of the first day of medical school for years. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was so excited. I felt like a little kid on their very first day of school!

Truth be told the whole day felt surreal. It was a lot of different presentations by faculty welcoming and congratulating us on getting into medical school. They told us that our careers would be full of ups and downs, and stressed the reality that we would be in charge of people’s lives in a matter of years. I soaked it all up and with each “congratulations,” it started to feel more and more real.

The day ended with all of us standing and reciting our “Medical Students’ Affirmation.” It’s the equivalent of vows for medical school—promising to uphold respect for the profession we are entering, pledging to pursue our study of medicine with integrity and honesty, etc. I must admit that hearing ~160 students reciting these affirmations about our future was very powerful. It was the moment that made all of this feel real for the first time. I could feel the emotions mixing up inside, a combination of sheer joy, giddy excitement, fear of the unknown, and being overcome by the power of all of these voices together. We were all about to start something that would fundamentally change every single person in the room and yet no one could possibly know in which ways we would all evolve.

Some things I wish I had known

The first few weeks have been incredible, challenging, exhausting, exciting, and inspiring. It’s really fun to learn about a topic that I am so passionate about. It feels very different compared to undergrad (or grad school) because everything we are learning is applicable to a future patient. I think that might be why sometimes it feels more exhausting, because everyone is so keen to take in all of the information for fear we won’t know everything. But I am trusting in the curriculum to eventually get us to become competent physicians in four years (which at the moment still sounds surreal).

With all of that said, there are a few things that I wish I had known in the first few weeks:

Griffith University medical school

Enjoying the view — view of Griffith University campus from PBL rooms

1. Griffith undergraduate bridging program
Griffith has a two-year “bridge” program for Australian high school students to go directly from high school into a two-year medical science undergrad program. After those two years, the entire medical science cohort (~60 people) enters the medical school. This has a few implications:

  1. The age of the “med sci” students is young; I believe about 25% of my class is <20 years old.
  2. They have been in a program together for the last two years so they all already have friends and friend groups. This was a bit confusing to a lot of us Canadians on the first day as everyone appeared to already be in friend groups.

2. Anatomy labs
The anatomy labs (cadaver labs) are “self directed,” which means it’s a bit of a free-for-all. There are a number of second-year students you can ask for explanations or to clarify where something is, and they are fantastic! Seriously hard to imagine I will get to that level in just a year.

But other than that there is no structure. They give you a few pages as a lab worksheet to fill out the night before that outlines the main topics for the lab, but the actually learning is up to you. It’s definitely not like undergrad anatomy labs. You have to make sure you bring questions to ask, and be outgoing enough to ask those questions in a loud environment with lots of other people trying to learn using the same cadavers. It is an adjustment, but I’ve had three labs so far and it’s completely doable, just a bit of a surprise in week 1.

3. Griffith is amazing
I wish I had really understood how incredible Griffith University is and how they focus on creating well-rounded people, who are also fantastic doctors. I didn’t realized how unique Griffith Medical School is compared to other schools with regard to their focus on communication and the other “softer” part of being a great doctor (more on that to come in future blog posts!).

Overall I couldn’t be happier with my decision, and I am slowly settling into a schedule trying to work on finding balance between school, exercise, social life, and my relationship with my incredible husband.

If you ever have any questions about Griffith medicine, please feel free to reach out.

Until next time!

Cameron
@noborders.md