The Land of Experience,
How are you doing? I hope you’ve properly acclimatised to your new home? Welcome to your desired destination; but remember, this is only a destination to a destination destined for another destination. You’ll understand this when you start getting posted like mails by postmen in white coats. I’m sorry this is coming late – it is a consequence of not having the chance to read a letter like this when I crossed.
Get ready to be involved in calls that have nothing do with your network provider. Do you know ‘NASOMART’ yet? You will surely need it more than your matric number. If you are the type who allows anything to get to you, just like me, I recommend you wear ‘insult-proof ward coats’ to ward off (pun intended) the barrage of insults you will be getting. Don’t be too bothered – the assailants might not have known as much as you did at your level. Also, get ready to be an unlicensed house officer.
In the words of a colleague, “When picking a group representative, pick one who is a mix of ‘serious’ and ‘chill’.” When you can avoid an imbalance of these combinations, you can easily avoid an imbalanced posting.
By now, you should have gotten the drill that an unwritten rule in the brochure for clinical school is this – you’ll stand for much longer than military soldiers. Your lifestyle is a risk factor for varicosity. Also, get ready to do the direct opposite of the health tips you’ll hear or have heard. Your future self will probably frown at how you had four hours of sleep and ate one square meal a day, supplemented with heavy snacking, at some point in your life.
Buy time, because you would need more time for yourself and your academics. If your bank account is still above the water and breathing fine, you can buy time by employing the washing services of cleaners, buying snacks and so on. I’m not encouraging you to be lazy. On the contrary, I’m encouraging you to divert the time and energy you would exhaust on other tasks to your academics.
And now, this part of the article you should take very seriously. You will most likely be advised to join different extracurricular activities and organizations by senior colleagues. The prospect of joining these organizations will be glorified and sensationalized. You will hear the trite sentence: ‘There’s life outside medical school’. What you won’t hear is that your academics can become lifeless, because you were more concerned about life outside medical school.
Paraphrasing the words of Prof. Regina Oladokun in her lecture on Immunization, ‘when people take extracurricular activities more seriously than school work, they begin to fail’. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. You might have come across that medical student who ‘multiples’ as the Editor-in-chief of a press organization, a key member of a choir, a Master of Ceremonies, a school politician, a public speaker and so on, but still aces his tests and exams in medical school. That is however just 1 out of 10 scenarios. To start with, medical students who are streamlined and give their all to medicine and medicine alone are still prone to failure or underperformance, let alone a versatile medical student who has allocated his attention to different things.
A senior colleague once said; “If they’re stressing you too much and not adding much to you, I don’t think they’re worth holding on to”. Before you join these organizations, first think about self-improvement. Ask yourself if the time you have before taking up these responsibilities has been enough to make improvements academically, spiritually, career-wise and in other areas. Also, think about how much these organizations will add to you. Before taking up the post of editor-in-chief, ask yourself if your writing needs improvement. Ask yourself if you’ve mastered the ability to meet deadlines for essay and writing competitions while operating in that capacity.
Do not attempt to carry 10 things, when you have only two hands. Do not jump into oceans of responsibilities when you have not mastered how to swim. Join organizations, but make sure your life is not what needs organization.
Remember, you will make necessary mistakes. Don’t fret. There are some mistakes that will be mistaken as perfect practices until they are made. Don’t miss the lessons you can take from those mistakes.
A Yoruba proverb once implied that, “What someone in Block 1 posting will see from the fourth floor of the college building, a senior colleague will see while lying supine”.
ANIMASHAUN DANIEL, your fellow passenger in this journey. Medical Student University of Ibadan
The Land of Experience,