50 Practical Ways To Stay Motivated In Medical School (Part 1)

All medical students need encouragement from time to time; And staying motivated through the rigors of medical school is in itself a challenge.

From my experience and those of other past and present medical students, here are some practical ways to keep the motivation coming through medical school, which I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.

1. Discover yourself.

As a medical student, you’ve likely spent most of your life in a school environment (Elementary to College); now is the time to not just focus on your schoolwork alone, but also learn about yourself- your purpose, your values and your principles. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find out.

2. Learn new skills

Medical school opens a world of other interests to you, where you can develop new skills like writing, photography, baking, video editing, or music; plus the Internet offers you great DIY resources.

3. Take online courses.

It is true that you’ve chosen the career path of medicine, but there’s so much you can learn about other fields like the arts, humanities, social sciences or technology. There are a variety of free courses online that you can look into.

Try some courses for free here: Edx.org

4. Avoid negative self-talk.

There’s enough stress to handle already with the overwhelming work load in medical school and sometimes discouraging grades. It gets worse with putting extra pressure on yourself and criticizing every mistake you make.

5. Volunteer.

Volunteering especially for medical causes (health fairs, blood drives, health awareness campaigns etc) is a good way to feel invaluable while giving back to your community. You don’t have to wait until you graduate before you find some meaning in the medical path.

6. Listen to good music.

Good music is like therapy for your soul. You’ll have some low output days, and rather than allow yourself to sink into depression, why not listen to some cool beats with amazing lyrics? Music is a great tool for internal motivation.

Listen to this inspiring song: I’m a Winner(MTN Project Fame version)

7. Watch Medical Shows.

Medical shows are not only a (fairly good) source of medical information (think terminologies, procedures and diagnosis) and humor, they also fuel your passion for medicine. Grey’s Anatomy, House and Chicago med are a few of them.

8. Start your own business.

Even as a medical student you can become an entrepreneur; apart from the financial renumeration, it also gives you a sense of self-worth and personal satisfaction.

Cake by ADESUWA (A 3rd year medical student)

9. Keep a journal.

Having a journal helps to boost your morale when you reflect on how you overcame a previously challenging time; it also helps you to keep an account of your journey which will be relevant in sharing your experiences in future.

Read: Chronicles of a Student-Doctor (A medical school journal)

10. Keep the end in mind

 “For me it was mostly the thought of being a good doctor (that kept me motivated) says Dr. Johnson, “I was always like someone’s life is going to be in my hands one day and I sure want to be able to save…I don’t want to be the doctor that doesn’t know what she’s doing.”


I hope you find some of the tips helpful, you can let me know some other ways you stay(ed) motivated in medical school.

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

❤️❤️❤️

PS– If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

– 7 Strategies for studying in medical school

– 5 Tips to reduce stress in medical school

– 7 Lessons from medical school

Chronicles Of A Student-Doctor #12

CHAPTER 12: PSYCHIATRY POSTING.
And to the last of my clinical postings, welcome to the Psychiatry department.

A place of several tales, some sad, some strange and others absolutely shocking.

Psychiatry was a bitter-sweet experience for me. It was the one post I excitedly looked forward to, telling all that cared to listen that I knew what I wanted and I was determined to embrace it.


For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by mentally-challenged individuals, whether in literature or on the roadside. I often wondered how some people ended up becoming weird, homeless, unkempt or completely dysfunctional. While most people would see such individuals and turn up their nose in disgust, I would often take a second or third look at them, and imagine if they have any family or home to call their own.
Medically speaking, the factors that lead to mental (and specifically Psychiatric) impairment, can be genetic, neurologic, environmental, or a combination of these.

On the other hand, some indigenous folks (at least where I come from), believe that mentally-impaired people might actually be demon-possessed or under spells. Of course, it seems a ridiculous way to think but cultural/religious sentiments have a way of shaping our perspectives.

As a Christian, I believe that demons do exist but I also know that mental health has remarkably improved through medical care over the years.

So all through my medical school journey, I really looked forward to my Psychiatry posting.

I mean I’d liked the idea of Mental Health for years, and Clinical Psychology was one of my favorite subjects during my pre-clinicals. Even before I completed my Secondary School Education, I already had much interest in Psychology. And because I wanted to study Medicine, I decided I was going to become a Psychiatrist. Hence my fate was sealed (or so I thought), until I actually started my Psychiatry rotation.

Despite the pep talks my colleagues who had done the rotation ahead gave to me, I wasn’t prepared for my encounter on that first day…
The Mental Health institution in SVG is situated apart from the General Hospital, and is currently (temporarily) located in an area called Orange Hill, which is along the countryside.
The institution which is more of a community than a facility, gave patients the privilege of roaming the immediate neighborhood with little or no restrictions.
On my first day there, we went in to see the female patients. I was stunned to say the very least. All I saw basically was a sea of faces staring mindlessly about, with some out of touch with reality. How could anyone live this way? I wondered. I left the place all sobered up and emotionally drained.

As the days progressed into weeks, I got to know a number of the patients and their story. We followed up some of them repeatedly in the outpatient clinic and what an experience it was.

The cases we saw ranged from mild/moderate depression to cognitive impairment to acute manic episodes to chronic schizophrenia to parasuicides, and the likes. And some of their stories would always remain with me. One of such remarkable cases was that of Ms. X:

Ms. X was a known patient with Bipolar disease who was admitted to the Casualty department during an acute manic episode that was triggered by an emotional experience. I had never seen an adult throw such tantrums before. This patient was hyper, continuously jerked her limbs against the bed restraint and cussed loudly. It was quite a sight. She was later transferred to the Mental institution. Over the next few days, and after a number of medications, the patient significantly returned to baseline.

Despite the emotional circumstances, Psychiatry posting was an adventurous ride for me. I got the opportunity to travel to parts of the island I had never been to. There was a community outreach where we had to visit patients in different villages like Chateurbelair, Rose hall, Troumaca and Spring village. Those areas were on the leeward  part of the island.



We also had occasion to hold outpatient clinics in Stubbs and Georgetown which are in the windward side of the island, as well as the Prison.


My Preceptor, Dr. K. Providence, an amazing woman dealt kindly but firmly with all the patients. According to her some of the patients can become very manipulative and threaten the caregiver. The most difficult patients to deal with are usually those with criminal charges. They are prone to take the “victim stance” where they make others think they are being victimized. This was especially common among the prison inmates.

We learnt how to take Patient history, do the mini mental status exam (MMSE), PHQ-9, CAGE questionnaire, BECKS Depression inventory, and other forms of assesment. We were taught to be confident and empathic while handling difficult patients.

My colleagues were fun and supportive. The interns, nurses, social worker, counsellor and clinical psychologist made a good team to deliver care to the patients. This was important because many of the patients we saw had social issues as well e.g. Lack of employment, drug use (Marijuannna especially), alcohol abuse, lack of finances, domestic abuse, homelessness and social stigmatization.

Aside the emotional demands, Psychiatry also gave room for lots of adventure. I saw new places, met new people and learnt new things too. And I took lots of pictures too.

My paddy and I…

Studying during my Psychiatry posting was perhaps the most interesting. I used Lange Q&A (Psychiatry), PRETEST for Psychiatry, Kaplan step 2 videos and Paul Bolin’s YouTube videos for Psychiatry to study. Any material on Psychiatry with DSM V criteria updates, should serve you well.

And to the big question. Would I be interested in pursuing Psychiatry as a speciality? I like it enough in theory but I’m not sure I can handle the clinical aspect, so I honestly can’t tell yet. So fingers crossed until then…✌✌

Kudos to all the Psychiatrists out there. Thank you for making a remarkable difference in people’s lives.

Thank you for reading,

:::requ1ne:::

PS: Here ends the Chronicles Of A Student-Doctor posts. I appreciate all the feedback and support I got. I hope I can share aspects of my post medical school journey with you in subsequent posts.

Chronicles Of A Student-Doctor #11

CHAPTER 11: OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY POSTING.

 


Welcome to the Obstetrics/Gynecology department, where we cater for women from adolescence to menopause.
The Obstetrics/Gynecology department comprises of two co-dependent units:

1. Obstetrics unit: also called the maternity unit, which is concerned with childbirth and the care of women giving birth.

2. Gynecology unit: which is concerned with functions and diseases affecting the reproductive system of women.

In the hospital where I did my clerkship, the two units were on separate wards. The Obstetrics (labor) ward was divided into three sections:


(Maternity ward entrance, MCMH)

Section 1: For patients in active labor.

Section 2: For immediate postpartum patients.

Section 3: For high-risk patients on observation e.g. Preterm labor, Pregnancies with comorbidities like Hypertension/Diabetes.

There was also a special room for Patients with Preecclampsia (who are high risk patients) and two Delivery rooms.

The Gynecology unit was on the Female Surgical Ward, and we had rounds whenever our patients were admitted there.

Obstetric clinics ran twice weekly (Family planning clinic and Antenatal clinic) while Gynecology clinic was once a week.

We had surgeries on Wednesdays and emergency cases were scheduled as needed.



(At the MCMH Theatre)

Shortly after starting the posting, I had the opportunity to attend the 20th Annual Perinatology conference organized by the Pediatrics/Obstetrics departments of the MCMH, and attended by doctors, medical students, midwives and other stakeholders from the Hospital and Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment. They presented and discussed the maternal/neonatal morbidity and mortality over the past year. According to the speakers there was an overall improvement in maternal/neonatal care in the country. The event was both fun and enlightening for me.


(At the conference with two of my colleagues and the medical officer, Dr. Cumberbatch. Photocredit: SVG Health).


(The Senior Register, Dr. Pabilona giving her speech during the conference. Photocredit: SVG Health).

Some of the presentations I saw during my 6-week posting include:
Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasm (CIN)

Complete Miscarriage

Cyesis preterm

Endometritis

Endometriosis

Gestational Diabetes

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hypertension in pregnancy

Menorrhagia

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

Preterm Uterine Contraction

Placenta Previa

Polyhydraminos

Postpartum Hemorrhage

Preecclampsia

Premature rupture of membrane

Urinary Tract Infection

Uterine fibroids


And some Procedures I saw were:

Artificial Rupture of Membrane (AROM)

Cardiotocography (CTG)

Colposcopy

Insertion of Pessary

Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) placement


(CTG procedure: which was typically left to the medical students).

Surgery cases:
Bilateral Tubal ligation

Caesarean section

Cervical Cerclage (secondary to incompetence)

Cone Biopsy

Dilation and Curettage (D & C)

Hysterectomy

Ovarian cystectomy & salpingectomy
I came across different kinds of patients too: the nervous, the confident, the cooperative, the indifferent and so on. Generally most of them were easy to relate to. 

Then comes the most dramatic part. In my opinion, there’s nothing as fascinating as watching a live birth. The delivery room experience is awesome. Let me try to paint the scenario as I remember it:


A woman in labor is rushed into the delivery room, with the midwives and other birth assistants in attendance. Sometimes a doctor is there to take the delivery as well. And the partner or a family member of the patient is usually allowed to come in.

Push! 

Push!! 

Push!!!

The midwife-in-charge yells, as others encourage and soothe the woman in labor. The baby’s head would then gradually descend as the midwife helps to manouver it. When the entire body of the baby comes out, usually with a distinct cry, another midwife states the sex of the baby and time of delivery. Then comes the clamping of the umbilicus which is eventually cut off under sterile condition. After a few moments on the mother’s chest amidst tears and smiles), the baby is transferred to the nursery. 

Shortly after an oxytocin injection is administered intramuscularly to facilitate uterine contraction and the placenta is delivered. After ensuring that there is no part of the placenta missing, the woman is cleaned up and returned to the ward. Occasionally we’d encounter a difficult delivery that requires a procedure like episiotomy.

This wiki article gives a breakdown of what takes place during the process of delivery.
A major highlight of the posting is that I got to assist the Senior Registrar for two mini-surgical procedures…which is every medical student’s dream! Yaay!! 😀


(At the Operating Theatre, Yours truly).


#Case Note

Then the Preceptor I worked with is one of the most dedicated doctors I’ve met. She’s well respected not just in the Hospital but all over SVG as a country. On my last day in the department while giving her final assessment, she gave me some insight on boosting the self confidence I need further along my medical career.

(Dr. Camille Nicholls. Photocredit: SVG Health)

Recommended study materials:

· KAPLAN step 2 videos

· Blueprints (Obstetrics and Gynecology)

· Case Files (Obstetrics and Gynecology)

· First Aid for the Obstetrics & Gynecology clerkships
* * *

My ObGyn posting was one of my most remarkable clinical rotations. Although it was quite  demanding and challenging, but it was quite enlightening too. The midwives, nurses, doctors and other students I worked with were quite dedicated and there was great teamwork. I was able to learn a lot from the rounds, teaching sessions, presentations and procedures. I had to clerk and admit patients, draw their blood samples and so on. Seeing as mothers bonded with their newborns was always heartwarming. It gave me reasons to seriously begin to think about motherhood! I wrote this post just before I finished from the department. 

So would I consider a career in this specialty? Hmmmn…maybe not. I personally don’t think I can stand the process of taking a Normal Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery (NSVD) every other day, or being called to the theatre for an emergency Caesarean section or Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception (ERPC).

Shout outs to every Ob/Gyn Doctor out there, thank you for the amazing job you do. 🙌🙌

Thank you for reading!

:::requ1ne:::
PS: I have one more post to go for this series. Thanks to everyone that has supported me so far.

God bless.

 

Chronicles of a Student-Doctor #10

CHAPTER 10: OPHTHALMOLOGY POSTING.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22 AMP)


Know your eye anatomy:


The gift of sight is one of the best gifts from the creator. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to behold the beauty in the world around us.

There are several preventable causes of blindness and visual impairment, so the need to take good care of your eyes cannot be over emphasized.

Welcome to the Ophthalmology Clinic.


Now Ophthalmology is one of the most fascinating fields of Medicine, but it takes only an insider to appreciate what really goes on in there.
The average person sees an eye doctor as the doctor that examines the eyes, and recommends eye glasses or contact lenses. But there is a lot more to what eye doctors actually do.

An Ophthalmologist
Let me quickly clarify these job descriptions:
a. Optician: A technician who is trained to design and fit lenses and frames for eye glasses, as well as contact lenses, as prescribed by an Optometrrist or Ophthalmologist. 
b. Optometrist: A healthcare professional (also known as a doctor of optometry), trained to perform eye exams and vision tests, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect certain eye abnormalities and prescribe medications for certain eye diseases.
c. Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. An ophthalmologist is trained to diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Furthermore, some ophthalmologists decide to specialize in fields dealing with the Cornea, Retina, Glaucoma, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Neurophthalmology, or Plastic surgery.

(source: http://www.aapos.org)
 
To be honest, in my first week, a lot of the terminologies used in the clinic were pretty foreign to me. Thankfully I worked with an amazing Preceptor, Dr. Grant-Ledger, who was more than ready to put me through any question I had. In retrospect, the posting was one of my best.

The outpatient clinic ran like crazy from around 9:30 am upto 2 p.m. on some days. Then we had surgeries on Wednesdays. Unlike in most other surgical sub-specialties, we get to actually sit down during Ophthalmology procedures. 

(Photocredit: http://www.truevisionsys.com)

Thankfully, we had Fridays off.
I saw a good number of cases ranging from Blepharitis, Pterygium, Stye, Cataracts, Strabismus, Esotropia, Cellulitis, Glaucoma, Amblyopia, Conjunctivitis to Traumatic Eye injuries.

My Preceptor was super student-friendly and she allowed us to clerk patients and perform their eye exam/vision tests. It was a memorable experience in all.

SNELLEN CHART
SLIT-LAMP EXAM

Maybe it’s time to visit your eye-doctor 😅😄

(Photocredit: WEB)

I’ve frequented eye clinics more than any other clinic for the past decade, because of the myopic condition of my eyes (I wear prescription glasses). 


So there’s a big maybe as to whether I’ll like to consider Ophthalmology as a specialty. And I personally admire female Ophthalmologists. They are usually nice and easy to relate with. Aside from the nitty-gritty details of microsurgery and the long hours in the Operating Theatre, I think Ophthalmology is a field I wouldn’t mind exploring.

Ophthalmology clinic selfie…

Shoutout to all Ophthalmologists out there, thank you for the beautiful job you do. 

Cheers!

Thank you for reading,

:::requ1ne:::