I have this exam to prepare for.
I haven’t clerked this patient yet and there’s a consultant ward round tomorrow.
I don’t have enough signed procedures to fulfill the requirements of this posting.
I have to be on call for the next 3 days.
Indeed, these and so many more happen, and medical students and professionals hardly lack words to complain about them. I have experienced enough of them myself, and heard a good number of people bemoan ordeals they had to go through. So although I had my doubts for a length of time, I have now come to believe that these worries are real and can take one to depths that may be difficult to come back from. These fears and worries threaten our physical, mental and emotional health, and so the next logical question is: what can one do to escape or control them? What to do? What to do? What to do?
I am not an experienced therapist, counsellor or any of that, but having faced my fair share of trouble, I can say that one thing that has helped me pull through is accepting that life, especially for medical folk, is wired to dish out loads of rubbish—at will and in varied forms—and there is little that can be done about that. Therefore, unless you messed up outrightly (a whole new ballgame and an entirely different discussion), accept this about life, hold on to that belief and you are headed somewhere. If it does nothing else, it takes away the element of surprise from life and its pitfalls, and sets the stage for a more robust response from you.
Next is to determine if the problem can be tackled or not. If nothing truly can do about it, then why make a fuss over it? More favourably, if something can be done about it, face the problem head-on rather than worry. Can I still see these procedures before the posting comes to an end? Yes? Then I should make plans to see it. No? Then maybe I could write a letter to the Head of the department, requesting an added chance to come around and view the procedures (not all our lecturers are incurably cold-hearted). Thinking of ways to get out of a problematic situation has the added advantage of keeping the mind focused.
Talking to people can also go a long way. Understandably, you may not want to have someone else getting in on your feelings, but have at least one person that knows you—your confidant. The person could offer help in one way or the other; or else while talking with them, a way forward comes to you. The latter may seem ridiculous, but sometimes, talking out loud to someone else helps you hear yourself better and provides some clarity.
Doubtless, there are still worrisome situations that remain crippling even after employing the techniques above. A majority would probably attest to having had one or two trauma-grade scenarios in this journey, but it is always better to try and deal with them as soon as possible and not let them keep you down.
Have you had to deal with fear and worry on one occasion or more? Do leave a comment below; you might be helping someone out there.
This was written by Michael Akande, a 600-level medical student at the University of Ibadan.