You should know this

So it's two weeks until "the biggest" exams of our six year course. Last semester, when the tutors said "you should know this", you said (silently in your head of course) "no we shouldn't, we just started clinical school." Now you think, yeah you're probably right, and feel incompetent.

You should know this. This is bread and butter, you should know this. The diagnostic criteria for X and Y conditions, the long prognostic criteria for A and B. The myriad of medications and their individual side effects. The eponymous name for some weird and wonderful clinical sign. The latest updated evidence for some particular change in management.

"I'm screwwwed," says my classmate, who actually has a great knowledge base. I guess medical students tend to either be excessively arrogant, or downplay their abilities.

Maybe it's just me talking to myself to prevent any nervous breakdowns, or excess anxiety. But I stop and remember that there are so many years of medical learning ahead of us. It's okay not to be able to present a short or long case at a physician level. It's okay not read journal articles to know the latest happenings in the field. After all, cardiologists, for example, generally only need to read the relevant journal papers to their field. If we were reading journal articles for everything, wouldn't that need to be for all topics in medicine, surgery, and sub-specialties? Besides, there's already enough basic stuff I don't have time to read. As long as we keep learning consistently, now and in the years to come, we will be competent doctors.

The tutor means well, just wanting us to aim high (did you know: my primary school's motto was "aiming high"?) I used to love 100%s and ha, "beating" others at school and would be moody when I didn't. I liked learning, and I still do, but the competitive element has faded. I can never quite figure out whether I have a healthy outlook to life, or am being a defeatist. That is, how much of it is because I recognise that studies and grades don't come first, and want to pursue many other things apart from my career. And I wonder how much of it is due to the fact that I can't score top marks even if I wanted to, being with a cohort of students who excel academically, have photographic memories, are walking computers/textbooks (and similar abilities), or students that can study exceptionally diligently. Or all of the above. In a way it's good for us to be grouped together, so that we don't have elevated perceptions of our abilities.

Can you tell, I'm not too fond of the typical med/vet/dent/etc student mentality, there's so much obsessive and other slightly pathological personality traits. Wonder if I will come across some extreme cases when I go to my new clinical school?



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