We can all admit 2020 has been a bit of a strange one. Having made it home before my family plunged into Tier 4, it is nice to think I have successfully made it through medical school in 2020. Being at home has been a real change of pace and a welcome change in location from my home on campus and it has been an opportunity to not pressure myself into too much uni work and focus on prepping my self for 2021.
Part of getting ready for the new year has been looking into what I have learn’t win medical school in 2020 and thinking about how I can improve and make 2021 a more successful and less stressful year. 2020 is all a bit of a blur at times, but I managed to think about it in three distinct groups; exam stress, lockdown 1 and phase 2 whirlwind.
Honestly, anything before April seems like it was years ago, when life was almost normal and we still had face to face content 5 days a week. What has stayed with my is the long term exam stress that occurred when my exam was postponed by, leaving me with a six month period of exam stress combined with a national lockdown. With my exam originally scheduled for June, I was already prepping for revision when lockdown hit. The decision was made by Warwick to postpone it to October, so that we could sit it in person. Surprisingly this made the stress worse not better and even though I would take a week off here and there in order to try not to burn out, six months of exam stress and guilt for taking a break take a toll after a while.
Fortunately, I passed all my exams and moved into phase 2. And whilst the journey to get their was stressful, I have learnt a lot about the flaws in my medical school exam technique and a lot more about my learning style which will benefit me in the future.
Though I would have rather maintained my face to face teaching, going into lockdown during phase 1 gave me the chance to learn how to self study for medicine, something we haven’t really had to do completely unguided. Phase 2 onwards at Warwick is mainly self study, guided by a book of learning objectives and the occasional supportive teaching. It is something I have not done before and was a worry for me in phase 2. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to practise this skill whilst still receiving a lot of support from the medical school. I got the chance to study outdoors and take some time to relax as well.
Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspectiveDoe Zantamata
I also volunteered to work as as one of the med students helping out on the wards to help relieve the strain on the wards. I learn and experienced so much that I know will make me a better medical student and a better doctor. Seeing how wards worked on a day to day basis has already helped me understand the different roles of NHS staff and get to grips with how patients see their journey through a hospital.
The phase 2 whirlwind…
I’ve completed so much in such a short space of time. I’ve learnt loads of new skills; crashed, burned and redeemed myself. So I thought I would take the opportunity to update you all on my progress so far and reflect on how I’ve developed from the experience.
I’ve completed a few of my TDOC’s finally able to cannulate and take bloods (with supervision). I even got the opportunity to take my first patient bloods on my first ever full ward day. It was really nerve wracking but not as hard as I imagined after my TDOC and it made me feel like I was achieving something as a medical student and a massive motivation. Getting into physical applications of medicine as apposed to just studying 9-5 has made me start thinking about other things I can do in 2021.
I’ve also done so many things as extracurriculars. I recently did an interview about my applicant experience and the realities of medicine so far, with the Manchester Metropolitan University Grad Med Society. I enjoyed reaching out the people and ensuring that people are both motivated but persuaded by realistic views of medicine.
I have also become president of a society, something I haven’t done before. I really enjoyed being part of the Widening Participation society last year coordinating their mentor programme and am really excited to see where I can take the society now I have been given a lead role. I then helped the medical school formulate their response to the UKFPO changes.
Besides these tasks, I have been balancing getting on top of the new workload, my resident tutor jobs and my actual job with post exam burnout. There were a solid few weeks where I wasn’t looking after myself properly and it accumulated in drinking three litres of water in an hour and sleeping for twelve hours. I think it was safe to say I had moved passed burn out and into exhaustion; but it was a real eye opener for me about how badly lockdown had made me loose my work life balance. In 2021, I hope that I can maintain a better work life balance and enjoy the other things in my life that aren’t just medicine. Thank my confidence in my ability as a medical student grows as I get to be more hands on in placements come February.