Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Angry Medic's Guide To Third Year (a.k.a. Tell Me What The Hell To Do With The Rest Of My Life)

After the huge embarrassment that was my previous post, which had the double effect of reassuring me that yes, there are still some good caring people in the world, as well as confirming to the rest of said world that I am currently in the middle of male menopause, I've decided to make good on my promise of audience participation, because I care about all your views and am such a nice guy that I take time out of my busy study schedule to make you laugh with more tales about how shit my life really is.

(Well. That, and the fact that I have NO FREAKIN' CLUE what to do next year. --Editor)

To prove my point, I asked my Director of Studies why he hasn't replied my emails yet. It turns out that he never received any of them, thanks to a combination of an extremely efficient and paranoid email filter program, and the pure bad luck of my university email address containing the letters A, S and S. In that order. (Yes. Uh. Those are my initials. Don't ask. --Editor)

So, some background information! *opens University prospectus* At Cambridge, medics in our third year have the option of choosing any subject out of a range of choices in the Natural Sciences course, or transferring to another subject entirely. Completion of this course leads to a B.A. degree, and-- what's that? You're asleep already? Okay then, in short, I need to choose a subject for next year so I can stop learning about itty-bitty little molecules and how they make love with each other in some enzyme's Protein Groove Of Luuurve, and actually learn how to be a real-life doctor.

So why can't I do this by myself? Well, it has to do with the fact that at this point my brain is so full of drug names that I have the decision-making capacity of Britney Spears in a hair salon. Plus the option list looks like this:

For ease and clarity (and so I can procrastinate some more --Ed) I will use famous people (and one famous place) to associate with each option I'm considering. See if you can match them up before we're done. Ready? Here's the list of options:

1. Pathology
2. Pharmacology
3. Experimental Psychology
4. History and Philosophy of Science
5. Law

and here's the list of famous people (and one place):

1. Forrest Gump
2. Haley Joel Osment
3. Courtney Love
4. Lindsay Lohan
5. New Orleans, Louisiana

Right. Let's start with Pathology. Cells, both living and dead, and the diseases they cause. I'm leaning towards this because one of the pathology courses is really clinical, and I wanna learn what to do if, oh I don't know, someone fainted in a roomful of Cambridge medics? Plus I find it really fun, and Pathologists Anonymous is one of my favourite blogs. This one was easy: Haley Joel Osment.

Next up, Pharmacology! Lots and lots of drugs and their mechanisms. Pros: It's interesting, and clinically relevant as doctors use drugs. Cons: You're not sure what use it has in real life, and there's lots of drugs involved. Kinda like Lindsay Lohan.

Experimental Psychology is fun. Besides getting more lectures from Borat's cousin Simon Baron-Cohen, I like poking around in people's heads and learning how we think. My parents also support me taking this option, because they hope that one day I'll learn enough to be able to cure my own mental retardation. The cons: It's all mental. Like Courtney Love.

History and Philosophy of Science: Ahhh, the honeymoon. Incorporated into the course to accommodate the many medics who accumulate so much mental damage from the first 2 years that they need some time out, this is a mostly theoretical option with no practicals and lots of off-time. Answer: New Orleans. (The Big Easy. Geddit? AHAHAHA how witty am I? Hire me now, Comedy Central! --Ed)

And finally, the Big Opt-Out: Law. We're also allowed to do non-medical subjects, and some medics take a 2-year conversion course to law. You get to go back to medicine after 2 years, of course, and graduate eventually with 2 degrees, but the main thing for me is that it means I can escape medicine for a coupla years. Or, as one medic-turned-lawyer put it to me: "RUN FORREST RUN!"

So there ya have it. How'd you score? But more importantly:

What would YOU choose?

P.S. A very sincere thank you to all of you who left comments and advice on my previous post. It was heartwarming to know that so many people cared, and that there are some good people in the world. No, that's NOT a tear in my eye, okay? It's just, uh, a splinter of wood from my last bout of banging my head against the table in despair. I find it therapeutic.


Anonymous said...

screw all that. do real estate, bitch.

Pawlu said...

What an odd system you've got up there in Cambridge. /:|

Locally, we're set on the track in our first year and with a bit of luck and some hard work (dammit) we should end up graduating with an MD by the end of our 5th year. No options, I'm afraid!

System works with us doing Anatomy, Phyiology and Biochemistry in our first 2 years, then hitting the clinical subjects from 3rd to 5th year, spending 3 years on the wards in clinical attachments. We also have Path and Pharma finals to contend with in that time.

But definitely no law... *scratches noggin*

Anyway, given your situation, I'd take Path :D


Anonymous said...

Law. You know you want to. But does JPA allow it?

Ms-Ellisa said...

Do sth fun... and with not much study... I would stay clear of microscopes... :-)
So I'd say Experimental Psychology.

Eliza said...

as an experimental psychology graduate and a nearly med student- i'd go down that route- it's interesting, and research based which makes it more satisfying and helps people skills etc. blah blah blah.

Chris said...

Either pathology or experimental psych.

Probably lean more toward experimental psych if I liked the lecturer.

Anonymous said...

Ooh ooh!

Life is like a box of (Thornton's) never know what you're gonna get. or what's gonna happen, for that matter.

so uhm, choose Law?

then you won't get your knickers in a twist when someone sues you for medical malpractice. you know, like when you FORGET ( as always ), and leave a scalpel or something inside ur patient after you've sewed em' back up..


but really, it's an interesting subject. it's my favourit-est class :)

Tayaki said...

good to see that your spirits are up again! :) in all honesty i would pick pharmacology because well, once when i was taking a shower (yes, all my thoughts of genius usually occur there) i thought that if i was to get an MD (in addition to receiving a DVM) i would only do it so i could prescribe myself drugs with ease (i have hayfever and i hate having to go to the doctor ever spring to get a silly script for pills AND have to shell out a $15 copay; this is in the USA). yes yes i know prescribing yourself drugs is not allowed, but i dunno, it would make my life a lot easier if i could do it (because i hate waiting in the waiting room at the doctors office what seems like an eternity listening to that god awful soft rock). also i hate the histology so i don't think i would enjoy pathology that much. also with psych, i would probably freak myself out realizing that my being paranoid sometimes is actually a mental disorder and lastly the lawyers i do know (seriously, they are members of the family) are like "sleezy uncle sal" and i would not want to turn out like that. but this is all coming from a vet student, so feel free to glaze right over this comment and onto the next...

Dr Joey said...

pathology, man, i did an intercalated degree in it and it's awesome. and not necessarily to do with dead people, i spent a lot of time fiddling about with tumour genetics.

although law might be a more sensible option, especially now MTAS has been scrapped and nobody knows quite how we are going to get jobs any more...

Anonymous said...

I must say I'm the kinda boring guy to choose something like Biochem, because things like "Protein Groove of Luuuurve" get me up in the morning...

Yeah, I need more fresh air...

On the other hand, Law does seem quite intriguing, especially since once the NHShit hits the fan, we'll be sued off our asses every other day (Thank you USians!). (Assuming we manage/are still sane enough to get a job as a doc anyway...)

The Little Medic said...

I hate you (I don't really, I'm just kind of jealous)
I kind of regret not doing an intercalated year. I'd love to get out of medicine for a year (although I think i'd forget everything i've learnt so far)

I really like the for choosing...welll here is my thoughts:

Law and experimental psych would be my two choices, I'd avoid path and pharm and get a break from med for a while. I would have loved to intercalate in medical law.

oh and I knew those were your initials, when I found out, I couldn't help but giggle in a childish sort of way. sorrrrry!

Anonymous said...

Awww, Hi Angry, so good to see you and it sounds like you feel a little bit better...I hope so.

Experimental Psychology...go for it...! I always kinda hoped you would get interested in psychiatry and then somehow cure!!!

Take care of yourself, loved the post, tracy

My Own Woman said...

Ok, here is what I'd do. I'd run with Forrest Gump, take Love to New Orleans and leave Lohan the heck alone.

XE said...

Hi AM,
So glad to hear that your spirits are up!! I'd do pathology, but I can also definitely understand wanting a year away from medicine, in which case the experimental psych might be cool as well.

Anonymous said...

hmmm I would chose either pathology or experimental psychology. But then again what everyone else has said about med school's in England Law might not be a bad option. Which interests you more?

Nichola said...

I'm not going to tell you what I think you should do... However, I am going to give you some well meaning questions / advice:

What do you actually enjoying doing or thinking about? (I'm talking about work here btw you dirty swine!)

What elements would make you feel motivated or interested again?

Do you need some clinical time?

or Do you need some time out doing something completely different?

Big hugs. In reality, it doesn't really matter which you choose. All are good in their own way and you just need to get through the year, hopefully to get into the wonderful world of hospital medicine.

Take care, JD

PS Will you get some bloody sleep. How can you lay down new memories if you don't give your brain a rest? x

Anonymous said...

History and Philosophy all the way.
Pathology will kill you with name overload.
Pharmacology is what people take when they FAIL to get into medical school. Brilliant if you're considering a career in Boots.
Experimental Psychology just takes the piss. Visit their animal research wing. Look at the monkeys. Look at their brains (mutually inclusive). Then decide.
Law - stop watching Boston Legal. It's not actually like that.

Lala said...

Ugh, law *shudder* stay away!!!!! Im thinkining pharmacology or experimental psychology 'cos doctors give a lot of drugs, and most people are slightly nutty in some way :)

Jingo said...

you should do experimental psychology, and get into people's heads like Dr. House!

This is my first time comment. Love the blog! In a few years time, I hope to be at Cambridge studying Medicine as well!

medstudentitis said...

I'd probably go history but it's probably useless in the long run, just sounds fun!

I tagged you for a meme. I know you're probably not the meme type so I won't be hurt that you don't respond!

Anonymous said...

Do SPS, it's a doss. More than honeymoon - it's a tour round the universe.

Anonymous said...

i agree

Tunku Halim said...

Hey Happy - you're most welcome!

Midwife with a Knife said...

Heh. Way to make us make your decisions for you! :) In the spirit of non-paternalism in medicine, I'm not going to do that.

Except I saw the astrophysics on the list. I think you should do that. NOT!

Seriously, pick something that you will enjoy and find rewarding. :) Life's too short to spend extra time suffering. Oh, and if you need a little time off, and do take an easy course, don't worry about it. Medical training is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to go at a pace you can sustain.

Anonymous said...

Argh! Everybody's telling me something different!

Dr. Deb said...

I literally lol and nearly woke up the baby napping just now.

beajerry said...

Is this the Mad Hatter's table?

Chris said...

That's what you get for asking the Internet to make important life decisions for you :P

N=1 said...

OK - from an OLD academic advisor:

Does any one thing always seem to "feel right"? That's a clue that you and it match well.

Is there an option to pursue one or more as lifetime avocations instead of as a major source of your profession/livelihood? That may help you decide how you view your priorities.

Have you envisioned what really makes you happy or motivated when you study?

From my reading of your blog: I get the impression that you like action, like well-defined problems and like well-defined resolutions. That would lead me to think that you would enjoy the pathology and experimental psychology options.

If you would like to bat ideas around for some feedback, please email me.

This is a happy dilemma - really - although it comes with a high degree of frustration when one has so many talents and options -does it appear to be a narrowing of your options?

No one can ever stop your learning about whatever it is that interests you - it's simply a matter of choosing the venue for pursuit.

Anonymous said...

oi.. i said law. since when did listening to me get you into any trouble?


point to consider.

hahahahaa :P

just joking; have a good think about it yourself... only you know what's right for you...

Nichola said...

I tagged you... if only to stop you revising for 10 minutes.
Hugs, JD

Anonymous GP said...

well, what degree class do you want? What are you good at?
What do previous years say are easier/ harder courses?

What will help with later medicine?
What will help with life?
Do you like research? Do you like writing essays?

Bscs are tough.. you will be bored with it unless you are actually interested.

Friend at Cam says experimental psych was great, so maybe thats worth thinking about. Ask ppl in yr above you, don't rush decision and don't worry.. they are all worth the same, you will get benefits from any of them.

Anonymous said...

Pathology sounds the coolest.

The Quiet Storm said...

I'd choose Experimental Psychology.Why? Because I'd have some academic credence in that faculty to back up my theory that most men are governed by their id! ;)

Sarah said...

My sister in law had a similar choice at Edinburgh (but after 2nd year). She did neuroscience and loved it. (And brain related stuff is less gruesome when you marvel about it to your relatives...)

ditzydoctor said...

whoa you're so lucky! at least you get a chance to do these =( we've our timetables planned for us and getting no say at all is tiresome! =(

patho is probably THE most useful course you'll ever take. it really teaches you about the million ways the body can break

pharm is interesting, but no thanks for me!

pysch is waaaayyyy cool. only thing is, for surgeon types like you, you might find yourself squirming from the long clerkings shortly.

and law. my sis is doing law in oxford (heh) and she's loving it there! it's really really tough and challenging. but doing it will really help you in medical malpractice (we've lots of it!)

if i were you, for a break i'd choose law, and for medicine, i'd choose patho =D

yupp enjoy your freedom of choice!

Spirit of 1976 said...

I'll say History and Philosophy of Science.

You don't need to worry about getting a job at the end of your degree - hey, you're gonna be a doctor, after all. So have a year of living the life ofa regular "I chose a fun, dossy subject that is no use whatsoever in getting a job" Bachelor of Arse student. Then you can go back to training as a doctor while all the BA students move on to spend the next few years at the checkout queue in Tescos before eventually signing up for teacher training in desperation to make their degree actually count for something in the job market.

And no, I am not at all bitter about the BA in anthropology and the MA in philosophy I did before realising I'd made myself totally unemployable and had better get back to uni and train as a nurse.

Unknown said...

This has nothing to do with youe post, but I just checked up on the UKCAT (another admissions test that they've introduced for us to take) and one of the sections is "designed to assess how well the person knows themselves and, how honest and truthful they have been. "

Surely this is not tessable! And surely this is why they have interviews!

Um, but back on the subject of choices, I have friends at Cambridge who say that they'd take Engineering if they could, but I think that's a joke. But can't you combine things under the tripos, like take a range of different paper/reserach options. It might make decision making easier.

I am personally more drawn to the pscyhology or philosopy, but law does sound cool. that probably doesn't help one bit.

Anonymous said...

you can't take engineering unless you want to stay here for an extra year. and there's no point, you only do REAL engineering in the third year..

SeaSpray said...

Hi Medic- I was going to say follow your heart and that is probably your divine destiny. I totally agree with N=1.

Did you hear that NBC didn't pick up The Apprentice next season but the Donald fired them before it became official? :(

I read it last night. supposedly he may have some other TV thing in the works.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, i just realized you get to endure 3 years of pre-clinical? How cool -inserts sarcasm-. I only get 2 + 3 clinical years.

go with law. later you can sue yourself for malpractice.

Anonymous said...

EP is really quite dull, in my opinion: doesn't have enough abnormal psych and there's loads of learning details of boring, obvious stuff you probably already knew. Pick pharm, path, or maybe HPS, which you can actually take as a non-doss if you put your mind into it and don't have an aversion to Philosophy. It's mostly not suicide-inducing philosophy, though, HPS. And it really is good for you, honest!

So, actually, I say HPS, unless you crave some clinicism so much you can't bear not to do path.