Resitting first year is a strange experience. There’s something so refreshing about the experience because I have really grown from it but at the same time it’s been a really mentally trying time. I wanted to start of my new blogging schedule after my blog down time by giving people an incite into how reciting your year can be both easier and harder all at the same time.
Starting with coming back. I’ve found the whole process really socially isolating, more so then I expected. There was always going to be some aspect of isolation, I was starting late and had never met any of my new year before. Equally, I didn’t tell anyone I was going back. I had cut that entire part of my life out when I found out I had failed the year. Both for feeling like I was disappointing people and that I was having a really hard time mentally coping with the situation and the easiest way to solve the problem was to hide from it. The expectation hasn’t been much different from reality. But I think I’ve just missed that engagement period with these people to make friends. I am firmly in the colleague territory. It kind of sucked for the first few weeks, because I was so alone I wasn’t leaving the house on the weekends or talking to people outside the compulsory discussions in group work. Since going back to work and just being calmer about the whole situation has solved a lot of my worries about the issue. It’s also made me value my friends from back home and spending more time with them and keeping those good relationships going. The fact they are non-medics is also really helpful and helps me stay grounded.
Probably one of the hardest things about being back its the battle to stay engaged and motivated. I think its taken the teachers a while to realise that I really do know wha ti am talking about and that I can complete a lot fo the stuff they set extraordinarily quickly. I was only two marks off passing. There are people that took breaks and came back that done remember what they were doing but I revised intensely for 10 weeks almost so a lot of the content isn’t new or refreshing like it is to the first years. When you’re staring at the same lecture slides about the same content its really hard to pay attention and focus on what’s being said. So i’ve been having to do alternatives to lectures if I’m zoning out. Quick summary seasons and drawing of the diagrams to learn them. I’ve really had to change my learning style to match the fact that this year is essentially a really large revision period for me.
It’s also hard to know when you can and can’t say anything in a group session. The fear of giving things away or not allowing people that opportunity to learn. It’s a fine line between showing off and trying to get something out of the session that isn’t really designed for you. I’ve taken to being quiet unless asked a direct question or the teacher makes eye contact and prompts my answer. Equally if I think ii know the answer and they leave the group to think it over or go away and learn it, I’ve been approaching them at the end of the session and giving them my answer. I’ve found this to be a good middle ground to group work sessions this year.
Theres a lot of positives to resitting my year. I’m definitely a better person and personally feel like I am more able to cope with the pressures of being a medical student in a healthy way. I am more confident about my abilities and in my flaws. Asking questions when I didn’t know something last year was a big no no. I would never do it over the fear of being perceived as stupid or not listening to teaching. This year, I come out with the question. Flat out. If someone doesn’t give me an answer I understand, ii’ll ask someone else. If this happened last year I just assumed I was being thick and didn’t ask again.
This is certainly helping my learning but this increased confidence has also seen a positive effect on my mental wellbeing. I am more aware of staying happy to be healthy and productive. But the increase in confidence in my knowledge and learning techniques has given me the push I needed to take time to look after myself. Taking a day out of lectures won’t kill me if I can get the work done in a relaxed manor. Not staying until 10pm to work if I can sit against the warmth of my radiator and do it in my PJ’s with a cup of tea (read Jug…). It’s amazing how I feel dramatically less pressure to constantly be putting in 1000% when in reality I was tired and breaking down; probably only working successfully at 50%. Now taking some time in the evening to watch docu-series or bake something is a better use of my time then doing something I am not absorbing. Working in that negative way gave me such negative views of revision… which reduced its effectiveness last year. This time, I am firmly using the motto work smarter not harder.
Though I wished I wasn’t resetting the year, I have gained some much by the experience. I’ve personally grown as a person; developed better learning techniques, emotional strength and self comprehension. I am a much calmer and balanced person dealing with the challenges this time around. Last year I felt like I was drowning, now my head is firmly above the water and I’m using this opportunity to shine, feel like I’m truly succeeding. But I guess we will have to wait for exam results! I’m using this new mentality to undergo some personal growth. I am doing some work with the widening access programme including a trip soon to the GMC National Conference. I am also giving my blog some love, its something I really enjoy doing and keeps me motivated. Also getting ahead start on one of my 2020 goals!
Everything happens for a reason, though this is a hurdle in my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. I am fortunate to still be one the path. Using your experiences and your failure will allow you to grow into a stronger person. Do not let failings hold you back. This is what I tell myself as I work my way through first year of medical school (again!), I learnt an extraordinary amount last year not only about medicine but about myself. This time, it’s time to prove what I’ve learnt.
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