Au revoir medicine…

I’ve been a very bold blogger. I told myself to write about my last three exams before jetting off to France, but unfortunately holiday preparations pushed blogging into the Bac (see what I did there? Ooh La La!) seat.

My final three exams, Chemistry, German and Music were thankfully straightforward and uneventful. Chemistry was a delicious paper and luckily for me the areas I didn’t study either didn’t come up or only came up as a tiny part of an optional question. Trés bon! Unfortunately I did make a silly mistake when I drew a graph plotting atomic number against mass number instead of first ionization energy, but luckily I realised my mistake and had time to redraw the graph and do an extra question just in case.

German was sehr gut aber nicht fantastisch. Keeping with the trend of past Ger,an Leaving Cert papers very odd written pieces came up, like writing about wild animals in the city. I sincerely hope “because of the economic crisis, people cannot afford food and may kill and eat wild animals” counts as “a dangerous situation which could arise from wild animals in the city”.

Music was as good as music was always going to be, by which I mean I didn’t do a wonderful exam, but neither did I fail epically, although the last phrase of my melody was a cross between Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. I also modulated without using any sevenths, so I hope to god it sounds like an obvious modulation.

The night before the HPAT results I had a dream about the results in which I got 460 points and was delighted with myself. Of course upon waking I realised that that’s an impossible score but went to check my email still with my happy buzz from that nice dream. It only took a few minutes for that happy buzz to be replaced by bitter disappointment and then despair, followed gradually by acceptance. I did not get a good HPAT score. Oh sure, I did better than the majority of people, but that’s not enough. Even if I got six A1s, which I know I haven’t, I could get a maximum of 720 and I just don’t think that’s going to cut it. After moping around my house on my own for a bit, I decided that Human Health and Disease, if I get it, does sound like a pretty cool course. I’m thinking that I’ll do a year of that but also spend that year doing logic and spacial awareness problems, and hopefully I can improve on my HPAT score next February. Even though I’ve accepted my useless HPAT score, I still get a sinking feeling of inadequacy every time I think of it, which is part of the reason I avoided blogging about it for so long. Fortunately being in another country with a different language and culture where I can practice French, the love of my life, is a welcome distraction, and in between sunning myself and ogling tanned French boys at the beach, I’ve come to accept that come September, I will not be a med student.

(on an entirely different note, I saw this on my balcony the other night…)

4 thoughts on “Au revoir medicine…”

  1. Just said I’d paste this is from my blog Elizabeth… it’s not the end of the world. QUITE THE OPPOSITE.

    I’ve always been between 4 courses. Hpat is gruelling and tedious. I’ve seen so many would-be-wonderful-doctors say.. “ok.. not now.. but later”. So here’s my raison d’etre…

    In all of the malaise of post LC and post Hpat… important things have come to light. Like REALITY. Realistically medicine is a profession like any other. You study, you do something and you get paid. You get better and you get paid more. You make some mistakes you lose your profession. You start over.

    Medicine however, is a profession which many people believe to require “harder study, doing more than something and getting more than paid”. WRONG. Any course; International Finance or Theology or Human Health and Disease or Film Studies or Quantity surveying or PPES, requires work and dedication and will be rewarded accordingly.

    Medicine is intensive because of the lecture hours, practical classes etc. But realistically any course is intensive if you wish to actually gain employment or go career hunting. And so what if International Finance or PESS students have less lecture hours than Med students? They’re supposed to be doing some extra reading and refining their skills in those spare hours, surely?

    Reality says that Medicine is viewed as a challenge. ANY course can be challenging if you desire success. The interesting thing to note here is that med students in general, in terms of personality are, in majority, highly motivated, highly challenge hungry individuals. If they see medicine as a “prestige” course sitting high up on silver platter that will provide all their needs, they’re disillusioned. One must remember that Medicine is a success by numbers course. As follows

    Step 1. Secondary school points… get them by whatever means necessary. Don’t quibble because these points can be bought, by paying for schools which have scouted for teachers with the ability to ACTUALLY teach, as opposed to “show” information.
    Step 2. HPAT. An aptitude test designed to give an indication of ability to read people situations and test general logic. Translation? A test introduced because it was feared that “under achievers” or people who aren’t particularly book minded and require more teaching than the 600 point scorers (who may have come from schools which teach in a special language called “howtoget600theeasyway”) needed a chance to become doctors too. Sadly medicine is a book intensive course which often doesn’t provide MORE teaching and students are encouraged to DIY a lot of the time. Reality? Quote from a senior TCD medical consultant and lecturer “It’s a new system… we’ll know if it’s a success in 10 years…” Result? Hannifin you tit. FIRST YEAR OF MED SCHOOL SEPARATES THE DOCTORS FROM THE PLAYBOYS SIMPLY DUE TO THE CONTENT AND BULK OF THE COURSE AND THE LEVEL OF EXAMINATION, THIS IS WHY MED SCHOOLS HAVE A RELATIVELY HIGH DROP OUT RATE IN FIRST YEAR. BLEH!
    Step 3. CAO- apply and get ready to be spammed to death EVEN if you do the environmentally correct thing and apply online. BLEH!
    Step 4. Join college.
    Step 5. Be taught everything again and again via lectures. Realise early that there is a right and wrong answer ALWAYS. Creativity is not a prequisite.
    Step 6. Lectures, practicals and exams.
    Step 7. Lectures, practicals and exams.
    Step 8. Lectures, practicals and hospital training and exams
    Step 9. Lecutres, practicals and hospital training and clinical speciality looming and exams .
    Step 10. Final exams.
    Step 11. Intern year. Told what is right and wrong. Can’t be legally sued for mistakes because you are inexperienced. (I kid you not). Brilliant!
    Step 12. You are a Doctor. Spat out.. go find a post you bum.

    The system doesn’t require that you show excellence or creativity or even new ideas.
    You go in, give you information. Mix well. And Taa Daa you are a Doctor BUT you have a long way to go before you are successful and are now earning about as much as a primary teacher as a junior doc. Yeah… great. *cough*

    Ignoring the time scale here? 6 years. 12 before you are really rolling in the moola.
    Compare with other courses. Qualified and on the career ladder in 4-5 years. Rolling in moola in 5 if you are creative and innovative. Working less hours, most likely and dealing with less risk in 9/10 of cases.

    Essentially what I’m trying to say is that Medicine is a course. As is any other. It is a course with a goal. Not a course with a host of wild opportunities. When they say “I got to travel a lot”. Think about it. MONEY provides all the travel you can ever desire. If you want to “help people”. Go to Africa and volunteer as an aid nurse. You don’t have to be a doctor.

    If you want be a doctor. DO ANY COURSE AND EARN A PHD. You’ll be a doctor then!
    Overall. I thought long and hard about medicine. It’s interesting. It’s fine. But it’s not open enough. It’s not open too innovation or personal opinion or new slants on old ideas, when you’re a young student. It’s overly emphasised, overly publicised and unfortunately is a course which doesn’t ensue the prestige or suave it once did. Simply because people have realised that we don’t live in 1950s Ireland any longer. Stigma is passé!

    Frankly anyone who has the will and ability to succeed and give 100% and earn respect and dare I say a lot of money is a person who has succeeded at least on the surface. That person can be anyone, doctor or not. As a generation it pleases me that we have realised that medicine is a profession which is like any other. Give a little, gain a lot. Fortunately it is one which doesn’t require an intense desire to care for other people, I say fortunately because in the past many good and bad doctors have been egged on not by the greater good but by other motivation. In essence, HPAT serves no real function. It only complicates an already flawed Leaving Cert system, highlights Ireland’s reliance on outside sources of guidance (Acer-Australia) and completely FAILS to do what it intended to do in the first place- that is open medicine up to many. It has only moved those who really want to be medical doctors into a zone of denial, because HPAT like leaving cert is a test not suited to everyone.

    It has however succeeded in one thing. Some of those “would be good doctors” can take the characteristics that make good doctors, and apply for other courses which allow their TRUE capabilities to shine. I have a feeling that 2009 is going to see the bar raised in other courses, for the generation of “would be good doctors” is here to stay.

  2. Elizabeth, I can feel your pain. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a Doctor….don’t ask why. After two long years of blood sweat and tears, I finally completed that most infamous right of passage, the LC only 5 weeks ago too, with the hope that the next exam I would sit would be “FIRST MED CHRISTMAS 2009.” However, on Friday the 26th of July last (Having spent a week in none other than LA FRANCE! I was unable to check my HPAT results on the previous Monday, comme tous le monde!) my hopes were quinched. My heart sank, as I exited out of and re-opened that long dreaded email in the hope that I received somone elses result by accident, in thinking that I’ll never acomplish my deram. But no, there was no denying it, that was my result. It took me a day to get over the shock and even longer to grasp the concept of “Percentile rank,” which made me feel even worse when I actually found out how low I ranked!

    I had never felt so inadequate in all my life….I felt like a complete and utter DUMBO!

    But all that is over me now and the reason Im writing this is to thank you. It was very courageous of you to share your experience and I know now that I’m not alone. So I won’t be the family’s first med student just yet, but theres always next year to redeem myself as you pointed out! Having done the HPAT already may come in handy next year and there’s no better preperation than first hand experience!

    I too look forward to persuing my second CAO choice in Biochemistry, giving me a chance to practise more HPAT sample exams. Of course, Post grad medicine and studying abroad is another option if all else fails.

    Finally Elizabeth,
    Best of luck next year I hope you get what you deserve and thanks for the encouragement!

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