Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Diverging roads and all that . . .

I decided to take myself out for coffee today, and do a little reading while I was there. Sometimes I know that being cooped up alone in the house all day is not very good for me, and I need to be around people.

I was sitting in the cafe area and doing some people watching when I saw a mother walk past with two small children in tow. They were younger than school-age but old enough to walk.

It took me a moment, but I recognised her, and the fact that we were in the same year of highschool. She didn't see me, and I didn't run off after her to chase her (I think we may have spoken 20 words to each other at school), and I just watched her walk off.

It seems strange to me that there are people I went to school with who now have school-aged children. I sincerely hope to have my own children before I hear of the first grandparent of our grade. (Where I grew up, this is entirely possible.) ;)

I have accomplished a few things in life, but sometimes when I see people who are my age, it strikes me just how different our lives can turn out. There are those who have made money and those who are still struggling, those who have successful careers and those who are still at university, those who are married with families or are single, divorced or anything in between, and there are those who are thriving and those who did not make it to 30.

I don't feel strongly about it one way or another (apart from sadness for those who have died), but I find the diversity of the paths of our lives absolutely fascinating.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brain blah

Thank-you for all of your suggestions on which careers would fit the criteria I listed. Your thoughts are appreciated. Strangely enough, all the specialties listed are high on my "possibilities" list (except for derm). :)
I probably won't decide until I get out and start working. Thankfully in Australia we don't have to decide on a specialty until we are already in the workforce. I am incredibly grateful that I am going into a career which offers such a multitude of options. 
My brain has shut down into Study Mode, so I thought I would write a quick post to say that I am still alive. I also think that antifungals are the coolest things ever. The fact that I think this reflects my current state of mind. 
Yes, the Girl is lost in the Study Forrest. I feel a story coming on. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The career conundrum

Many other medical student bloggers (well, probably most of them) have posted on their difficulty deciding on their future career paths.
To be honest, I change my mind so often it isn't even worth a thorough analysis of which specialties interest me the most. 
This variance occurs because I find so very many of them fascinating, rather than feeling like I couldn't do one or the other. 
A part of me thinks that I should find one that is fairly lifestyle-friendly, but the rest of me knows that when I have gone for lifestyle-friendly careers before, I can end up dissatisfied and miserable - I am the kind of driven person who needs a challenge in order to be happy.
I am leaving it until I do practical work in areas to narrow it down a little, and probably won't even make up my mind fully until I am out there and working as an intern. Perhaps not even then.
A wise person once told me that your specialty choice is often determined by how well you get along with the other people working in that area at the time. If you are interested and happy in the specialty already, I can think of far worse ways to choose a future workplace. 
I also don't want to be hanging around in resident-land forever, because the specialty I want is so competitive that entry is almost impossible without connections. Considering the medical student "tsunami" currently pushing its way through the schools at the moment (and which will only get even larger in the coming years), it is a nervous time for most of us.
The best and most sensible thing to do would be to potter through medical school and do my best, crossing off the specialties that really don't appeal and just decide when I am ready. (Surgery is already off the list - not because of the actual work, which is fascinating, but because: a) when I have to go to the bathroom, I have to go; and b) I like spending SOME of my time at home, in my own bed.) I'm sure it will happen sooner rather than later. 

So, I am interested in:
- A specialty that will keep me challenged and interested;
- An area with a decent amount of colleague collaboration;
- A specialty with nice conference locations (KIDDING - I think they all have that);
- Not an excessive amount of on-call;
- An area where I can use my clinical skills, stethoscope and talk to patients;
- A wage to live comfortably (but seriously, every doctor earns that, I don't need a Porsche!);
- Pleasant colleagues;
- Work-life balance;
- Respect (not worship - there is a huge difference);
- Results from my work, and work that I can be proud of;
- Decent patient satisfaction;
- Some amount of procedural work, as I am a practical person and like to use my hands;
- And just to re-state it: I need to use my brain, or it tends to get very unhappy, which makes me miserable. It may not be the smartest brain on the planet, but it needs regular feeding!
So as you can see, my list doesn't cross out many specialties at all. Suggestions? ;)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why I love studying . . .

This is my favourite time of year to be studying and revising. 
Why? Because there is much less pressure and fear than closer to exams. Plus, with the weather being as it is (i.e. the start of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere), I can sit outside on the deck with my books, a coffee or a drink (caffeinated, not alcoholic!) and enjoy the view of the my yard, the trees and the mountains while I ruminate on the joys of the pathophysiology of infectious diseases and other fun things. 
Yes, it is damn hard to be a medical student at the moment! ;)
Sometimes I wonder how I am ever going to cope with returning to full-time work. Then I remember - money! Oh, and contributing to society/paying off my debts and mortgage/new car/saving lives/other stuff, too. 

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Whoah, 50's flashback . . .

I had a Stepford Wives flashback this morning, when this article left me seething mad. 
Why? Therese Rein may be the wife of the Prime Minister, but she is also a multi-millionaire and a self-made, successful businesswoman who is a confident leader in her own right.
These "fashion" experts have reduced her to the level of armpiece eye-candy, saying that she should endeavour to look more "chic," that "everyone can gain confidence from a makeover," and that she should "blow out her trademark curls into a sleeker do," amongst other equally bile-producing comments.
I have not read such a load of misogynistic tripe in a very long time. Are we in the 1950's, where the woman had to look perfect to impress the guests, being seen and not heard, and coming straight out of that ultimate woman-mould? 
Who cares if she has business nouse and built up and run successful companies? Get her some new shoes, quick!! Does Kevin Rudd (her husband) have to have a new briefcase every day of the tour? Then why should she have to bring a handbag collection to match those new shoes? After all, she probably has a lot less paperwork to carry around! 
(Whoops, I forgot about the makeup, hair products and other beauty essentials that every chic polit-spouse gal needs! Silly me!)
Has ANYBODY EVER even looked at the shoes that the male politicians wear? I am certain I have spotted a lot of suits that don't fit too well on the world stage. Nobody ever says a peep about the men. How about the husbands of the female politicians? When was the last time you heard somebody say that Bill Clinton needed a makeover so that Hillary could be taken more seriously? 
Does the fact that she has kept her own surname after marriage or her history of being the ultimate career woman not offer any hints that there may be a brain and a personality behind the face that matters more than the colour of her dress??
Apparently if you are a woman, you should be seen, and be seen to be exactly as everybody expects you to look. 
Clearly, our PM respects his wife. Perhaps our society should advance another step or ten, so we are capable of doing the same.
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. 

Friday, April 4, 2008

Medical school is tough

However, I think that you only really learn how brave you are until you find yourself facing an unexpected mountain and then find a way to conquer it.
I just loved this post from downunderdocs so much that I had to link to it. I hope they don't mind.
It shows great insight and honesty, and is also a warning for those about to embark on medical studies that it isn't all beer and skittles. 
It might have been a scarring experience, but I have a strong hunch that the author will be a much better doctor because of it. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Papuan Tragedy

On Tuesday night I watched an excellent Foreign Correspondent report on HIV in Papua New Guinea, called Papua in Peril.
According to the program, the HIV infection rate in PNG is the highest in the world after Africa due to a combination of lack of education, cultural promiscuity, and silence about sexual activity.
The saddest thing I heard was that there are more housewives with HIV than prostitutes - not that I would wish one group to have a higher rate than the other, it just means that there are a LOT of men bringing this illness home.
The whole report was eye-opening and very sad. These people have enough difficulties to live with, without adding HIV/AIDS to the mix. 
I think that in the next 30 or 40 years, the world will become a very different place.

Happy to be where I am

I'm back into the swing of things again, reading, reading and reading some more! Medicine, that is. 

Recently we have been covering some legal issues in more depth. A long time ago,  contemplated a career in law, even doing a few subjects and doing well at them. 

Now, after studying medicine for a little while, law just seems so dry and boring! The part I liked about law was the stories in the cases, and how the law related to them. Medicine just seems so much more . . . real.

Sorry, but it had to be said. :)

I also have to mention that yet again I have no idea what I want to do when I graduate. I'm not one bit worried about it, either. 

Well, that isn't true - if I wasn't worried, I wouldn't have written about it. 

Apologies for this scatty post - it reflects my current state of mind.