12 August 2006

A change for the better

**I've decided to introduce some guest posters/bloggers to the site to try and see things through a different perspective. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce Mat, who I first met through Admissions Forum, with his views on 'Why Medicine?'**

"Hello, I'm Mat. I'm 19 and posting on a blog about a 120 (it's coming up close to that isn't it Merys?) year old’s attempt to get into Medicine. What can I possibly add to the discussion?

Well, hopefully a little bit. I considered writing about Student life, but Merys would be hugely more experienced to talk about that. I'm going to talk about something I end up talking a lot about.

Why Medicine?

Some of us decide at 7, some at 17 and others at 27. But ultimately everyone at a Medicine course has decided, not only "I'm willing to study Medicine for 5 years" but also, I'm willing to be a doctor for most of my life. I'm going to work for the organisation that’s probably criticised most in the UK press, The NHS. I'm willing to join a profession famous for archaicism, and bullying, and inflexible working hours.

Well, why?

Some programs show Medicine as being about Caring done by superhumans. Others, such as ER make it seem dramatic beyond any level of realism. But why did a real person - for example me - choose to do medicine. I'm not a hugely caring person; in fact, some of my friends would describe me as closer to callous than caring. I'm a good communicator, but more in the arguing than the consoling sense. And I'm a great scientist, but more in theory than in practise. I probably sound like I’ll be an awful doctor, but I don’t think I will be – why?

A doctor doesn’t have to care about all of their patients; in fact it would be impossible to do so. A news flash to applicants who want to care about everyone – some of your patients will be rapists and murderers, others will just be wankers. Hence there will be some who frankly you don’t care about, that doesn’t mean you get out of treating them. So the old line in the personal statement about “Caring about people” is simply a meaningless cliché.

A doctor communicates in a different way than most applicants ever have. You communicate with your peers, which is frankly easy. But you also have to communicate daily with people at their most vulnerable, the ill, the dying, and the relatives of those who are either ill, dying or dead. I hardly thinking having done public speaking in year 10 qualifies you for this.

What about being good at practical science? Well I am good at practical science, but I don’t think being able to make methylate benzene qualifies you to cauterise a wound.

So why should you go into Medicine?

Well not for money!

I’d say because you want to make a difference but also because you like the field. If your not actually interested in Medicine, don’t go into it .You have to be interested in disease and the human body or you’ll never make it far in medicine. After all, that’s what it is about.

I’m sure people will disagree with me, hell most people do most of the time. I hope I’ve been interesting. If anyone want to contact me, feel free at matthewjb@gmail.com



ET said...

my name is Elina,i'm a chinese.

There are too many words i can't understand. but i will try.

Carmelo Alongi said...

Cool idea, I like it. No Mat I quite agree with you, going into any health proffession with the idea of caring for absoluley everyone is both naive and unrealistic. We must do our best to heal people, but we don't have enough heart to give a bit to every single patient you meet. We need some emotion left for ourself.

Anonymous said...

Please do something about the font size /colour/ colour scheme its barely readable.


Anonymous said...

Anon says.

No worries, its just the pc monitor thats i'm using and the resolution.


Dory said...

Mat - this is a really good description of the person who will make it (and enjoy? it) in the healthcare profession.

Empathy, not sympathy

Mat said...

Thanks for all the comments. Glad to know that others agree with my sentiments.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing that stops a person being both interested in disease and interested in people. As we have been repeatedly told my many different people (both of the high testosterone and of the touchy feely type): "when you stop caring about the 'meat on the table' - that's when you become dangerous".

When does a love of science and interest in the human body stop? When is an intervention a step to far, what about the patients best interest. If you don't care and don't engage, how do you know when you're coming up to the big glaring sign stating:

"STOP! Proceeding past this point a) is not in your patients best interest, b) is not going to change the course on which your patient is on, either in influencing disease tragectory or inproving outcome and c) will probably get up up before the GMC or on a civil charge..."

Your blog is great beer talk when trying to prove yourself to older doctors, who will probably agree with you, before telling everyone they meet the next day "what a tosser you are" and your boss "I think that person is dangerous, this is what they said to me..."

How do you want to make a difference? By having your name put to a proceedure, so in years to come students will be taught about 'the Mat proceedure?. Or would you rather know that you helped someone - a real person, with thoughts, feelings and a family and friends who love them... Even rapists, murderers and wankers... Especially the later - why is someone being a 'wanker'? Are they scared? Upset - has something horrific just happened to them which means they are no longer sure of who they are anymore? Are they congenetally that way? Work that out and not only do you make your working day a little less fraught, but you will also more than likely arrive at the correct diagnosis/treatment a hell of a lot quicker...

You might think that the old line in the personal statement about “Caring about people” is simply a meaningless cliché, but thankfully it isn't... I would like to reasure any non-doctory people reading this (not to mention potential appilcants to med school) that there are many, many doctors out there who do care about people...

Caring doesn't mean being someones best friend, spending an unprofessional amount of time with them being 'pally-pally', it's about stopping for a minute and actually thinking about what they are going through, posiible pre-empting any pitfalls to their recovery (if recovery is on the cards - mat, please promise me you will stay away from palliative care).

Also, from a selfish POV and in my experience, showing a patient you care can enhance your leaning experience greatly. I've seen patients with text book signs of specific conditions refuse to talk to certain students (with no ethnic correlation - although I have seen this too), probably as a result of them failing to think: this is a person, rather that this is a liver flap. Be nice to people, engage them and really empathise - properly, empathy isn't a check list you get given in pre-clinical communication sessions...

Mat said...

How to reply?

I could point out factual inaccuracies which there are at least 3.

In short though, I don't actually feel an obligation to reply to anonymous posters....if this was my blog, I'd not allow people to comment anonymously,(in fact if it was my blog I wouldn't allow comments at all - I'd merely give an email where people could talk to me - which I did here and you didn't do).

Blogs are not Forums, and hence I feel no obligation to make a retort. But the best of luck to you.