Should I still do medicine despite this situation? Watch

claireestelle
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(Original post by person42)
After volunteering at a center for children with disabilities (cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, Down syndrome and a variety of other physical, developmental and mental disorders) I can't say I liked the experience. Part of the reason for it is that I feel quite useless, or even worse than useless since children that I likely won't be able to keep a relationship with seem to get attached to me. I've wanted to go into medicine for the classical reasons; I like science and I want to help people. I've always been quite empathetic and affectionate. People have opened up to me and I've sought to make them feel understood and whatnot. I'm ashamed to say that visiting that center is probably the first time that I felt physically repulsed by a person. It's not all of the kids there, maybe just two or three of them that really make me feel that way but still, it's not a good reaction. I really don't think it shows at all because I've gotten comments from people who work there telling me that they're surprised that I'm still coming and that it takes 'a special something to be able to work here and I think you have it' which was quite the compliment and it means that most likely if the staff can't say that I'm repulsed neither can anybody else. I don't know what it is that makes me feel that way. Maybe it's the smell, the whole place smells weird (not bad, just very specific) and certain individuals within it hyper salivate which also gives off a smell. Maybe it's the fact that communication is more difficult with most of the children there. I've also noticed that since going there frequently my knee-jerk interior empathetic instincts have started dwindling, but that's probably in part because I've had a rough week which probably makes me more instinctively selfish, auto-conservation and all. I don't want to feel this way, I'm disgusted that I do but there's no way to change it, at least no way that I know off. The thing is, I've been in hospitals and haven't felt that, not at all. Not even disgust at seeing wounds and all sorts of other things that were not visually appealing.

Sorry for the rant. What I mean to ask is

a) Should I still apply for medicine?
b) How can I get over the repulsion?
get yourself some experience somewhere else, so you know if it's not just an isolated incident for you or if working with people with disabilities isn't something you can do.
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LostLioness
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Same. I knew medicine was not for me because the sound of an ambulance terrifies me, there is something so haunting about it. The atmosphere inside of a hospital is one of stale emptiness. I suppose it all depends on what your motivations are: is your desire to help those in need greater than your discomfort?
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person42
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I mean I guess yes. I’m not quite helping that much. I helped with feeding and managed to get over it. Generally I managed to get over it and interact and do whatever I had to do. There was a boy once who had a thing for chewing on stuff and I let him do it with my hands for a bit but when he got to just trying to touch my phone and take it from my pocket I tried to distract him so he wouldn’t do it. It wasn’t because I was afraid he’d bite it and hurt his teeth, it was mostly because he would’ve salivated all over it, so I guess that’s an example of a negative. I was fine in hospitals but this place felt different.
(Original post by TheLostLion)
Same. I knew medicine was not for me because the sound of an ambulance terrifies me, there is something so haunting about it. The atmosphere inside of a hospital is one of stale emptiness. I suppose it all depends on what your motivations are: is your desire to help those in need greater than your discomfort?
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person42
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That is a very clever idea actually. Thanks.
(Original post by claireestelle)
get yourself some experience somewhere else, so you know if it's not just an isolated incident for you or if working with people with disabilities isn't something you can do.
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thatonethere
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Second the advice about gaining other experience. Ask yourself why did you react that way? It’s all well and good that you recognise this and that you may not going into working with LD however you will have many patients with learning disabilities and cognitive impairment in other specialties and at the end of the day you will need to deal with them and you have a duty to treat them with the same diligence as any other patient - do you have an offer?
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person42
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Thanks for the advice. I don’t have an offer, I’m applying this autumn. I think that, superficial as that is, it’s the smell of saliva + lack of things to say/do (which is caused by the combo of the physical and learning disability). There’s a lot of children and young people there and I’m fine around most of them, even enjoy hanging out around 2 or 3 of them, it’s just 3 that turn me away out of which one has gotten attached to me. When I brought it up with somebody I was told that given how I felt about the experience maybe medicine isn’t for me, and he might be right, I’m just trying to figure it out. There’ll be plenty of things that don’t look or smell or feel nice in the field though, but I think that if it were that alone I could deal with it with relative ease.
(Original post by thatonethere)
Second the advice about gaining other experience. Ask yourself why did you react that way? It’s all well and good that you recognise this and that you may not going into working with LD however you will have many patients with learning disabilities and cognitive impairment in other specialties and at the end of the day you will need to deal with them and you have a duty to treat them with the same diligence as any other patient - do you have an offer?
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LostLioness
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Yes, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't want someone to chew on my phone either. I have a feeling you are young and too nice, lol. Bedsides I am pretty sure if you go into med you would develop some level of professionalism.There is nothing wrong with being 'nice' but remember that Doctors are professional people! x
(Original post by person42)
I mean I guess yes. I’m not quite helping that much. I helped with feeding and managed to get over it. Generally I managed to get over it and interact and do whatever I had to do. There was a boy once who had a thing for chewing on stuff and I let him do it with my hands for a bit but when he got to just trying to touch my phone and take it from my pocket I tried to distract him so he wouldn’t do it. It wasn’t because I was afraid he’d bite it and hurt his teeth, it was mostly because he would’ve salivated all over it, so I guess that’s an example of a negative. I was fine in hospitals but this place felt different.
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thatonethere
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(Original post by person42)
Thanks for the advice. I don’t have an offer, I’m applying this autumn. I think that, superficial as that is, it’s the smell of saliva + lack of things to say/do (which is caused by the combo of the physical and learning disability). There’s a lot of children and young people there and I’m fine around most of them, even enjoy hanging out around 2 or 3 of them, it’s just 3 that turn me away out of which one has gotten attached to me. When I brought it up with somebody I was told that given how I felt about the experience maybe medicine isn’t for me, and he might be right, I’m just trying to figure it out. There’ll be plenty of things that don’t look or smell or feel nice in the field though, but I think that if it were that alone I could deal with it with relative ease.
I started working in LD and mental health when I was 18 and it’s a very steep learning curve - I’ve now been doing it 10years and start F1 in August and I’m still learning communication skills every day but I’m certainly a lot more capable and confident than I was to begin with - the recognition that you are uncomfortable is good and use it to reflect and take advice from others. The important thing is to be respectful about how you discuss it so it doesn’t seem like you’re being insensitive about the patients concerned. Also do ease up in yourself a little - even experiences physicians find communicating with LD patients very difficult so any experience is valuable even if some parts of it are perceived to be negative. Feel free to PM
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