I’m Finally Leaving Pre-Clinicals!

I’m very excited to leave pre-clinicals. To be honest, I was already bored. I guess the problem was tripled because of the Covid-19 break, which meant that I had to read what I already knew over and over again. I wasn’t really getting any new information and the ones I knew were evaporating, which is inevitable. I’m glad it’s all over, though.

The professional exam was definitely out of this world, trust me. We call it MBBS exam. It’s a lot similar to USMLE written by medical students in the US, although there are major differences. Boy, was the exam tough, and I really want to believe it wasn’t just me. For every medical student, MBBS exams are dreaded. One reason is because it determines who crosses over to the next class and who doesn’t. Inevitably and sadly, some people do not make it to the next class. I’ve always wondered the logic behind this, though. For my part, I’ve never really believed such life-changing decisions as who gets to move over to the next class or who gets to be withdrawn should be based on some selected questions printed on an exam sheet.

You could also argue that some people who are eventually withdrawn would have made really good doctors, and some who get to cross over wouldn’t. I’ve always wished there are better ways of testing students and determining their fate in medical school.

Citric acid cycle. One of those things that just never sticks after exam.

Medical school is a lot like an economic caste system. There are upper class students, middle class students, and then lower class students. This division is wholly arbitrary, and, in my opinion, very unnecessary. Again, it is because it is based on some written tests and scores on the board. I know too many people who really know their stuff but just don’t do well in these tests, and some people are so good at cramming they literally ace these tests every time. Just like an economic caste, there is also a struggle for upward mobility in medical school. Some students definitely want to belong to upper class, and so they do this by sometimes putting other people down, intimidating some with information they probably memorized over the night, and other techniques resembling these, just to feel good about themselves. Suffice to say that the often overlooked people in medical school, the ones you may classify as lower class, usually go on to become world-class doctors.

I think the ratio of things I would miss to things I wouldn’t is like 1:99. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy 99% of the pre-clinical classes. Some of the information, at least to me, were very unnecessary and buggy. We took anatomy, physiology and biochemistry classes. The biochemistry classes were often filled with page-long sketches of structures, metabolic pathways, stuff like that, all of which do very little to improve our clinical prowess. Worse, we usually only remember these information for tests and exams, and they are long gone before we start a new semester. If biochemistry was filled with very little clinical information, anatomy was the complete opposite — it was filled with too many.

Oh, a note on anatomy. In every medical school, a crucial part of anatomy lectures is the practicals performed with human cadavers. (I’d read that some western schools now perform with 3D models. For most, however, real cadavers are still used.) Overtime, my relationship with the cadavers really changed. Initially, I was very tensed and uneasy around them. I don’t know at what point I just got too comfortable, so much that I would finish from the lab and go home and not even think of the once-human specimens we just poked and learnt with. I guess that’s normal.

New things always start wrongly until they become right.

I’m excited about starting clinical classes. It’s a whole new level of medicine; actually, the real thing. For the next few years, I’ll be coming in contact with real patients, making diagnoses, some of which I’ll whisper to myself and some of which I may need to say aloud during ward rounds. Of course, most will be wrong, but it’s the start of a new thing, and new things always start wrongly until they become right.

I can’t wait to be a part of that world of uncertainties.

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Chisom Ogugua

I love coding, technology, entrepreneurship and medicine. I love to document my thoughts on these subjects.