Is Medicine for me?? Watch

mariya101
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I wanted to study medicine in university and did all my research about different universities etc.. I attended many open days and received copies of what modules I will be taught in medicine each year. I was so sure I wanted to study this until i started my work experience in a care home last week. Im really sensitive and get upset easily i was always told i will learn to toughen up, but I ended up crying twice during my time there as it makes me sad seeing people in such horrible conditions- not being able to do anything for themseleves. Im sure when your a doctor you are likely to come across people in many different conditions...

is there any advice any of you could give me regarding my career choice..
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Helloworld_95
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I think if you get that upset just being in a care home you may find it too difficult in a career where you will see many patients in worse condition.
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Atemukay
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People will die in front of you, especially in the clinical experience for A&E, imagine someone's just crashed with a car, and they're not breathing and you're witnessing the scene, and then they die... could you handle it?

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ConfusedMedic
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Hi. I've just finished first year medical school so I'm not hugely knowledgable about what a career in medicine actually involves but I have a few points that may be of help.

First of all, we are constantly being told at my med school that medicine needs a whole variety of people of different personalities with different strengths and weaknesses, and different abilities to work under stress/lack of stress. Some medical students will go on to become surgeons who perform operations which are rarely successful, or will go into palliative care where many of their patients will die. But not all parts of medicine are like this. There's a whole wide range of specialties which avoid a lot of death. Plastic surgery can change lives (e.g. of burns victims, people with really low self-esteem due to issues with their appearance) but many of the patients will not have terminal conditions. Likewise there are specialities like ophthalmology and others (sorry can't think of the top of my head) in which many of the people will be relatively healthy. Of course you'll undoubtably experience much death and pain and suffering along the way (e.g. as a junior doctor etc) but the end result of you degree doesn't necessarily have to be dealing with people who are in immense pain/are dying if you think that that is something you personally would find very upsetting/difficult to cope with.


Secondly, as sad as it seems, you do become desensitised to these things as you go along. At first I was mortified by the idea of cutting up a dead body, and I couldn't stop thinking of how they had once been a person with thoughts and feelings, but now I don't think about it so much, and it's just another way of learning. I also will often be struck when taking a history from a patient of how hard their life is/how hopeless their situation is and think that i'll never forget them (i also felt like this when doing work experience in a hospice prior to applying) but I imagine that after a while, it becomes impossible to remember every patient you have contact with, and you end up just making as much of a positive different you can to each individual before moving on to the next. This may not be the case (doctors/more experienced medics, feel free to correct me!!). You're also taught in medical school how to cope with emotions, and how to reflect on incidents and make yourself cope better in the future.


Finally, no one can decide if medicine is for you, except you. I would recommend getting some work experience in a GP surgery and hospital as well as a care home to give you a wider idea of what medicine as a career involves. But when push comes to shove, I would say go for it. Being sensitive isn't a bad thing - it will help you be naturally empathetic and good at communicating with your patients and making them feel at ease. But if you find it really difficult to cope with, don't put yourself under unnecessary pressure and emotional distress - there's lots of other worthwhile degrees and jobs out there that you might be better suited to!


Sorry for any typos, and if you have any questions get in touch (oh and also I have a blog you may be interested in reading - link is in my "About" section )
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mariya101
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(Original post by ConfusedMedic)
Hi. I've just finished first year medical school so I'm not hugely knowledgable about what a career in medicine actually involves but I have a few points that may be of help.

First of all, we are constantly being told at my med school that medicine needs a whole variety of people of different personalities with different strengths and weaknesses, and different abilities to work under stress/lack of stress. Some medical students will go on to become surgeons who perform operations which are rarely successful, or will go into palliative care where many of their patients will die. But not all parts of medicine are like this. There's a whole wide range of specialties which avoid a lot of death. Plastic surgery can change lives (e.g. of burns victims, people with really low self-esteem due to issues with their appearance) but many of the patients will not have terminal conditions. Likewise there are specialities like ophthalmology and others (sorry can't think of the top of my head) in which many of the people will be relatively healthy. Of course you'll undoubtably experience much death and pain and suffering along the way (e.g. as a junior doctor etc) but the end result of you degree doesn't necessarily have to be dealing with people who are in immense pain/are dying if you think that that is something you personally would find very upsetting/difficult to cope with.


Secondly, as sad as it seems, you do become desensitised to these things as you go along. At first I was mortified by the idea of cutting up a dead body, and I couldn't stop thinking of how they had once been a person with thoughts and feelings, but now I don't think about it so much, and it's just another way of learning. I also will often be struck when taking a history from a patient of how hard their life is/how hopeless their situation is and think that i'll never forget them (i also felt like this when doing work experience in a hospice prior to applying) but I imagine that after a while, it becomes impossible to remember every patient you have contact with, and you end up just making as much of a positive different you can to each individual before moving on to the next. This may not be the case (doctors/more experienced medics, feel free to correct me!!). You're also taught in medical school how to cope with emotions, and how to reflect on incidents and make yourself cope better in the future.


Finally, no one can decide if medicine is for you, except you. I would recommend getting some work experience in a GP surgery and hospital as well as a care home to give you a wider idea of what medicine as a career involves. But when push comes to shove, I would say go for it. Being sensitive isn't a bad thing - it will help you be naturally empathetic and good at communicating with your patients and making them feel at ease. But if you find it really difficult to cope with, don't put yourself under unnecessary pressure and emotional distress - there's lots of other worthwhile degrees and jobs out there that you might be better suited to!


Sorry for any typos, and if you have any questions get in touch (oh and also I have a blog you may be interested in reading - link is in my "About" section )
Thank you for your reply it was extremely helpful. Yes I have done work experience in a hospital but I worked in ENT/EYES so I didn't see many people with major illnesses, I also quite enjoyed ophthalmology which is another reason why I wanted to go into medicine.

I knew it was normal to feel upset about what I was seeing, but many people especially on TSR told me if i was sensitive I should think again about doing medicine. However half of them people are clueless about what medicine involves and as you stated above there are brighter sides to medicine also my skills will develop as I progress through the course and again like you stated I'm sure I will get used to seeing people in these types of conditions.

Thanks again for your help, and I'll check out your blog now
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CasualSoul
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I'd say if everything else attracts you and it's just this then you should go for it. Surely it would be silly to let this little things stop you from doing it. What you need to do is surround yourself with these situations that make you feel upset e.g. don't stop going to the nursing home because it made you cry. Watch videos on youtube relating to this, read articles on how doctors deal with death/ breaking bad news, heck even watch the news a bit more as there are loads of things I see on their that can be slightly upsetting. I really think that as you try to put yourself in more of these situations it will help you to become a bit more resistant. You will still be upset but you will be able to control your emotions if you keep doing this and won't be bursting into tears at every sad thing you see.

That's what I recommend.

If you persist with this and it doesn't work you may want to thing about another career if there is something else that you are just as passionate about. However, if your passion lies with medicine give what I've suggested ago before you just say 'that's not for me' as you could potentially be a great doctor ...
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mariya101
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(Original post by CasualSoul)
I'd say if everything else attracts you and it's just this then you should go for it. Surely it would be silly to let this little things stop you from doing it. What you need to do is surround yourself with these situations that make you feel upset e.g. don't stop going to the nursing home because it made you cry. Watch videos on youtube relating to this, read articles on how doctors deal with death/ breaking bad news, heck even watch the news a bit more as there are loads of things I see on their that can be slightly upsetting. I really think that as you try to put yourself in more of these situations it will help you to become a bit more resistant. You will still be upset but you will be able to control your emotions if you keep doing this and won't be bursting into tears at every sad thing you see.

That's what I recommend.

If you persist with this and it doesn't work you may want to thing about another career if there is something else that you are just as passionate about. However, if your passion lies with medicine give what I've suggested ago before you just say 'that's not for me' as you could potentially be a great doctor ...
Thank you so much I'll definitely try that
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xx-Samantha-xx
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It can be hard, especially when in those situations, but that shouldn't stop you, its fine to be sensitive as other people hear have said. For example I am currently on a palliative care ward which I thought was going to be very difficult as I can sometimes get too attached to the patients and on a ward like that you can't help it because your there all the time. On the other side of it, while it is so sad most of the time, if you can make them feel just even a little bit better or you see they are relaxed because they are not in pain and its your actions that have calmed them then you know you have done something to help them in their last days and I have found that I have enjoyed my time here. While Nursing is slightly different to medicine we still see the patients in horrible times are there lives but if it is something you are passionate about, be that doctor who will speak to their patients and try to make them feel better even if it is towards to end of their life. I've always liked the saying ' be the difference you want to see' or something like that. Try to get more experience in different areas as it really isn't all death and dying. as you go through the training it gets easier to handle, I wouldn't say you get completely desensitized to everything, some things are still going to bug you, you just learn to handle it better as you go. I'd say go for it anyway Good Luck
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garethhowel
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Hello there, I have just finished my first year as a junior doctor in the delights of Hull. As quoted by previous people who have responded to your initial thread, I am not hugely experienced but have a little insight into what happens 'on the ground' so to speak.

The three rotations I have had to date are psychiatry, elderly medicine and colorectal surgery. Now, psychiatry on the face of it would seem relatively easy. However, you do have to deal with acutely distressed patients and relatives who are going through an illness which they (and the majority of people in this country) do not care about or understand. This is a challenge to communicate effectively to them what is actually going on. Elderly medicine for obvious reasons presents a different challenge. Incidental findings of acute, and sometimes terminal illness become a daily occurrence. Dealing with protracted death also happens quite regularly, which unfortunately includes breaking bad news to relatives about their loved ones. Colorectal surgery again is different. As a junior you are tasked with preping and dealing with surgical complications so this gives you a variety of experiences.

Medicine does require different sorts of people with varying attributes and interests. I, myself have an interest in psychiatry, and research of a couple of particular illnesses. Strange, as psychiatry is a very polarising specialty in itself. I would also hate to be a surgeon. There are also areas such as microbiology, genetics, public health etc where you do not have to deal with death, but every job has its challenges. It is all about identifying your strengths and weaknesses on a personal level, then the specialty will pick itself.

I hope this helps in some small way.

If you would like to ask more questions dont hesitate to ask.
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