Questions about medical school answered: What it’s really like in here
13th November, 2019
13th November, 2019
There are a lot of opinions of people outside the (medicine) club about what it’s really like in here. From training days to practice, most of the ideas come from popular medical soap operas and drama.
What would you want to know, if you could know anything?
We asked, they asked and our doctors answered.
Is it true they lock you people up with dead bodies and if you can’t stand it you flunk out of med school?
Dr Anon: Oh yes, the horror is real. Be dismissed on account of that? Not quite.
Dr O: No, they do not and that would probably not be a good idea. With all human endeavours, you get used to things and in time find yourself desensitized.
Dr A: First off, LOL. That’s not true. You don’t get locked up with dead bodies. Many people can’t stomach it the first time. You learn to tolerate it with time.
Is it really as stressful as y’all make it sound?
Dr Anon: Even worse; it's twice as stressful as you think we make it sound.
Dr O: I would say it's really stressful, perhaps even more on an emotional and social level than a physical one. It's easy to become isolated from the world, particularly on the clinical side. The constant anxiety of clinical and ward rounds takes its toll.
Dr A: Oh definitely. Probably one of the most challenging things I’ve been through. But it’s also rewarding. Maybe. Sometimes (ish)
Do you really have to be smart to get into medical school
Anon: Well, you need good enough grades to make the cut.
Dr O: Not necessarily, although Nigeria's system makes it easier for people with above average IQs to make it in. More importantly,once you're in, intelligence perhaps only sees to it that you scrape through. Those who excel are those that really take time to study and if you're used to doing well off intelligence, you'll probably manage just 50s and 60s (and 40s)
Dr A: Hmmm. I’m not so sure. I’m not a genius and I made it (ish). Jokes. Jokes. But I guess you’d have to be smarter than average, not necessarily genius level smart.
Why are you all so proud?
Anon: Blame the shoulder pads in our wardcoats.
Dr O: Haha. Pride is an individual thing and had nothing to do with medical school.
Dr A: Loool. Well, if you survived school for 7 years while also literally saving lives, you’d be proud too.
Is it true you all sleep with each other?
Anon: Hell yeah, ease of access.
Dr O: I plead the fifth
Dr A: Don’t we all?
Why do you hate nurses?
Anon: We don't. We're part of the same team.
Dr O: Hate is probably a strong world and I don't think it's true. However, on average, they do make your life more difficult, particularly during surgeries with the screaming about not entering their sterile field. Lol.
Dr A: We absolutely do not hate nurses, however, we hate being disrespected (like everyone else)
How long does it really take? Y’all say 6/7/8, which is it?
Anon: Ideally, 6 years. 7 or more if the Nigerian factor comes into play.
Dr O: This is an issue with the system. It should be six years of undergraduate study and one year of housemanship but with strikes, there may be issues.
Dr A: With all things being equal, med school should only last 6 years. In Nigeria however.
What’s the percentage of medical students that absolutely hate it?
Anon: As soon as I've completed this study, I'll hit you with the figures.
Dr O: Purely anecdotally, I would say 70-80%. Nigeria makes it hard and senior colleagues make things really difficult.
Dr A: I honestly can’t say for sure but there are a lot of us.
If my parents are my motivation for attending medical school, will it tell on my grades? Like will I still pass because I am NOT interested
Anon: Well, you're likely to do better if you're really interested and eager to learn. However, you could still pass.
Dr O: Without trying to seem discouraging, I would not actively advise anyone to go down this path if you do not absolutely love it. The average age (16/17) at which people gain admission nowadays is probably not a great time to choose medicine as a career. Studying medicine for your parents is not a really good idea. You'll in all likelihood still pass and make decent grades but the decision should be yours.
Dr A: It depends on you. You can hate it and still succeed. It’s totally up to you.
Are med school exams really as tough as y’all make it seem?
Anon: It drains you every -ally. Crazy stuff.
Dr O: It may sound like a cliche but you'll be fine eventually. The exams are perhaps not so tough in and of themselves. Personally, I made it through the first three with relative ease but with the last, the fear of Medicine OSCE was real. The really challenging part is the constant fear of failure, the negative words from lecturers that should be mentors and the role that meeting a good/bad examiner may have to play. With effort, you'll turn out fine.
Dr A: Yes they are. LOL. Hands down. Without a doubt. The volume, the detail... Yeah. For sure.
If I’ve completed a first degree in engineering, do you think I’ll be able to adapt to life as a medical student? I’m 26
Anon: Certainly, especially if it's what you want.
Dr O: If you have your mind set to it, it's really not difficult.
Dr A: You definitely can. I had classmates who’d had first degrees and came back for medicine. Also, I honestly think it’s great that you’re willing to go back to undergrad life. It’s really brave and I wish you all the best. Good luck
How do you learn to cope with the gory?
Anon: Haha, something called acclimatization
Dr O: Humans are able to adapt to nearly anything. It really is just a matter of time before you get used to the situations that come to play in the field.
Dr A: Err. You just do. You’ll see and smell some really nasty things but you must never show it, especially in front of the patient.
Are you required to spend your money to help patients who can’t afford things?
Anon: It's almost always a voluntary act.
Dr O: No, you are not. It's however likely that you'll find yourself doing so even from undergraduate years because it's really difficult just to watch people suffer at times. It's what the failed system has made necessary.
Dr A: Not required to, no.
I heard Nigerian medical students get paid right from student days, is this true?
Anon: Lmao, in this Nigeria? Some win scholarships and the like, same way some students in other departments do.
Dr O: Haha. I didn't get the memo. That would have made it a whole lot more bearable, wouldn't it? I do think you're more likely to get scholarships than other students.
Dr A: If you mean scholarships, then yeah. But I suppose that goes for people in other courses. If you mean salary, then no.
There you have it. Do with this information what you will. It’s not absolute, but I’d say it mostly holds true.
Ultimately, the choice to commit to this really demanding path is yours and yours only. You’ll excel if you want to.