Saturday, May 12, 2007


I hate what I am.

I'm 2 weeks away from exams. I should know all my material cold by now. At the beginning of last year I told myself that I would. That I wouldn't make mistakes. That I wouldn't fall into the trap every lazy student falls into before exams.

And yet here I am. Mediocre. Ordinary.


In Michaelmas I caught up with my Director of Studies as he was leaving College one late evening. He told me that when he looked at my application form two years ago, he said to himself, "This is a guy I want." He had handpicked me out of all those applications. Because he put his trust in me. He believed in me. That I wouldn't let the College down.

Now he doesn't even reply my emails anymore.

Can you imagine how painful it is knowing that you've let someone like that down?

I probably won't even make it into clinical school at Cambridge. I'll probably be kicked out to some school in London. And that makes me angry. Not about London. In fact I believe that clinical schools in London run a better course than the one here at Addenbrookes. It's the fact that I'll be KICKED OUT.

I should be hardworking. I should be one of those medics who sleeps 5 hours a night, who sleeps alternate nights, who made flashcards months ago and by now has finished revising everything and is just working through past-year papers. The kind with Grey's Anatomy-like zeal. With an aggressive surgical streak. Because they're ALL AROUND ME. Sure, they come in with sleepy smiles and say "Mate, I'm so screwed, I've done no work at all, I can't remember anything", blah de blah de bloody blah. But you know it's all bullshit. That it's about as believable as a cow standing up on two hind legs and telling you it's the Queen of England. Or Paris Hilton saying she's sorry and she won't do it again.

But no. Instead here I am, having slept for 7 hours when I intended to pull an all-nighter. Snoozing around when countless good, honest people laboured to get me here, me being a kid from exactly the wrong kind of background to get into Cambridge. A Type B medical student in the world capital of Type A students. A dolphin in a sea of sharks.

And I hate it.


The Little Medic said...

Right with you there buddy.
I've got an exam on monday, strangely I'm past even caring - I can't even be bothered to break out the practice questions.

I'm sure you'll be fine in the end though, you made it to cam after all!

XE said...

Caution: Advice Ahead!
You have two weeks to turn it around. It's not too late! It'll take a lot of work, but you have it in you to buckle down and revise properly if you really want it.
Flash cards are my preference, but use whatever method of studying that works best for you. Flash cards always work for me because you write out the information first as you're making the cards, then you read the information over as you use the cards, then finally you recite it from memory, and I find that those three stages of learning the material ingrains the facts in memory very nicely.
Good luck!

Phoenix said...

Why are you torturing yourself?

Take a step back. Maybe you'll suit London better than you suit Cambridge.

London has (arguably) better clinical courses than Cambridge, and I'm sure they also have educational supervisors who'll support you. If you're struggling with something they'll help you. If you're finding it difficult to motivate yourself they might help you find a project or attachment which will spark your interest.

What exactly is it that's keeping you so tied to Cambridge? Is it your ambition and determination, or is it the expectations of people who don't know you, don't understand you, and don't offer you the support you need?

Perhaps there's something you're not telling us, but from what I've heard so far, you'll have far more opportunity to shine elsewhere.

Sorry if that's harsh, but I feel pretty strongly about it (as you can probably tell)

Dr Joey said...

what makes me angry is that medical courses have the ability to make people feel like this. you are not lazy, you are not mediocre, and it's terrible that you feel like this. i hate that medicine can detract so much from life - i know it's a calling rather than just a job, but you shouldn't have to beat yourself up like this. there is more to life than medicine, much as i love it, and nobody should have to study as much as you seem to think you do! i am about to graduate and i have never pulled an all-nighter, and i am perfectly competent. I just really hate that you feel so inadequate because you dared to go to bed rather than study all night - sleep is a human right!

please, PLEASE don't feel like a failure, you are NOT a failure, you are not mediocre, and your supervisor has no right to make you feel this rubbish!

i know what it's like to feel like this, but there's a line, be careful to stay on the right side of it. look after yourself! xx

Yee Yen said...

Hey relax man
I can identify with your feeling. Like as if what we're doing is never ever good enough, and really believing that there's some truth in what I feel because I know I have been lazy (which paradoxically, is not necessarily true). I will be having an exam on Monday and yet still sleeping 9 hours... I hate myself for doing that. Look at the big picture. You just want to be a doctor at the end. Good luck.

Chrysalis said...

Medic, there are times you shouldn't be allowed to roam up there in your head - without adult supervision.

Take a deep breath. It's good you get some sleep. You can't get through exams without some rest. The nights before I had to take exams I'd go over all my information, then get myself to bed, look it over one more time in the morning, before exams, then go take the tests. Granted it wasn't to become a doctor,but studying and passing exams is basically the same. Sleep is essential in doing well.

Relax Medic, all you can do is the best you can do.

Pseudo_Doctor said...

I was in your spot a little while agon but got through all my exams just fine....if i got through them feeling the same way u do right I'm sure u'll do

Tayaki said...

you'll be ok! you have two weeks to sort it out, don't stress. that's a lot of time. i wish i had two weeks. i only had 1 reading week and my first two finals are on monday. and yup, i'm really screwed. just imprison yourself in the library...but make sure that you're one of the people that showers regularly and applies deodorant because the library is closed air circulation and B.O. goes everywhere....seriously, i hate gagging when i'm trying to cram and i don't get how people can't smell themselves.

Midwife with a Knife said...

I'm going to echo what everybody else said, basically.

If you want to kick ass on the exams, you have plenty of time to study. You won't kick ass if you don't sleep for two weeks, so don't begrudge yourself seven hours of sleep.

And HP has a great point. If the clinical schools in London are better, than it's not the end of the world if they send you there. It'll probably be better for you. You sound like the type (forgive me if I'm making a huge assumption) that will get the clinical stuff better than the years of bookwork, anyway. So having a better clinical experience will be really good for you. It's like a win-win situation. If you kick ass, you win; even if you do mediocrely (hm... is that a word?) you still win because you get a better clinical training program.

When I was studying for exams, I made studying like a job. 8-10 hours a day, planned breaks, and sleep and exercise outside of those hours. I don't know if that'll work for you, but sleep deprivation is not a recommended study technique. :) Good luck!

Anonymous said...

When I was studying for exams, I made studying like a job. 8-10 hours a day, planned breaks, and sleep and exercise outside of those hours. I don't know if that'll work for you, but sleep deprivation is not a recommended study technique. :) Good luck!

This is wise advice!

By the time I got to membership I'd been sitting exams for the best part of 12 years and I'd finally learned how best to study. For me it's to set a deadline a week before the exams, and have all the studying and note-making done by then. For the final week: practice papers, occasional note revision as required, plenty sleep, plenty healthy food, and occasional socialising.

Lala said...

well, im in vet, and im leaving, so my exams don't really matter, but I too have some on monday and have put in maybe, oh, 8 hours study so far? And i know I'll be pissed when I fail. Don't give up hope, this is not the last exam you'll ever do, there is still time to get back on track, and it doesn't mean you'll be a bad doctor, which is what its all really about, right? Man, those nerds in the library with their flash-cards 24/7 really get up my nose. And I don't know why, because I know thats what you need to do to succeed. All the same, its irritating, the smugness.

And besides, you have a whole two weeks! And sleep is good. Don't you know your brain consolidates info while you sleep? Think of it as pleasant study!

Best of luck.

BoNdI said...

dude, you take yourself too seriously

i guess the thing with Uni is (cambridge or anywhere else) you have to stop complaining and get straight to it.

I have 7 days, nope 8 days and counting...and honestly don't think am going to be able to finish studying everything let alone know everything. But what else to do than get on with it?

but my brother in arms; here's all the best to us lazy bums


Anonymous said...

Well apart from the obvious ego boosting potential of this blogging lark, all I'll say is don't sweat it. Put in the work now, and something good will come out.

HOWEVER, look at this from an outside point of view. You're:
1. Doing Medicine.
2. At bloody Cambridge!

That puts you into some stupidly tiny percentile of the population smart enough to get into to the place in the first place.

XE said...

I'm with MWWAK, set a certain number of hours that you will work every day, and make sure to get enough sleep and exercise. You'll be fine :)

Anonymous said...

Haven't you thought that maybe he picked you because you're a type B doctor student surrounded by type A's? Don't universities want to have like a diversified student population. You must have stood out because you're not like the others and he liked what he saw when he saw your application.

Besides, they haven't kicked you out yet :P just relax!

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel, plan to work close to 10 hours a day but i keep getting tempted, and make it only to about 5...

Nevertheless, you must realise that this is all for nothing, one day we will realise that this is meaningless.

Anonymous said...

At risk of rehashing of what everyone said, don't beat yourself up over it.

This little snippet from MWWAK is great:
"It's like a win-win situation. If you kick ass, you win; even if you do mediocrely (hm... is that a word?) you still win because you get a better clinical training program."

But I guess you're just afraid of letting certain people down, who might see you not getting into Cambridge clinical as a 'failure'.

But hey, cheer up! Always know that there are people who will actually support you no matter how, where, or what you do. See how many people care about you from the comments list!

All the best buddy. Oh, and don't pull an all-nighter, it's really bad for your already unstable mental state. :)

Bo... said...

Don't think like that. Don't. Just buckle down and (like we say) git'r done. What you're going through is DIFFICULT---you are definitely NOT lazy. You are going through a very tough, brain-killing, gut-twisting experience. But you are VERY intelligent. Just get through it one day at a time. I'm pulling for ya.

Pawlu said...

Heh, isn't this the same story we all go through?!

Have 2 weeks ahead to mine, and instead of revising COPD guidelines and heartfailure regimes, I'm sat here typing a comment to a blog I identify with so closely!

Not to worry mate: we'll all get through it!

Thanks for the comment: feel free to link this:

I'll put up yours meanwhile.

Have a good one, and regards to the makeshift flashcards!

Kuhan said...

Hey dude. Don't be so hard on yourself. You should realize that a good number of people are in the same boat as you are. Ok, so there may be some who have gone through the material more than once, but those people are few. There are still more that are struggling, and it's almost impossible to know everything.

Just relax and continue working the way you are. Sleep deprivation is not the best way out. What good is it if you know all your materials but if you become delirious during the exams? Just calm down, do consistent work when possible, and hope for the best.


Anonymous said...

I feel exactly like you do each time my exam comes! Just can't stop myself from doing last minute mugging though i've promised myself i never would after the last exam. But i think sometimes it's what you do in those last minute revisions that make the difference. I find that stress gives me the extra push i need and a lot of things will still be fresh in mind when i sit for my exam. Stay positive; two weeks is still quite a lot of time. So, don't be discouraged, and i'm sure you'll do just fine! =) All the best!

ditzydoctor said...

angry!!! don't put yourself down darling. i know traditional course schools are liable to making you feel like killing yourself at times from the sheer amount of work (try microbiology. oof.) but you'll get there. i felt as bad as you at some point, and i even tried pulling an all nighter but i just couldn't do it. my results were crap but i passed and hey, doesn't Pass=MD? if that's what you want, you'll make it. of course, if you're aiming for tops, then it's a bit harder.

you can do it! come on angry just try your best. this defeatist attitude won't help you. maybe paste a hot girl on the cover of your book so you'll be motivated to open it to study. that sure helped my friends!


ps: i used james franco. ooh =D

tscd said...

Actually, I think I studied more productively when I was sleeping well. After all, sleep is essential for memory formation and one needs at least 5 hours sleep in a 24 hour period in order to function effectively. In fact, in the week running up the exams I would force myself to get into a good sleeping pattern so that I would be able to perform optimally during the day hours.

Don't beat yourself up just because you're a human, not a computer.

Anonymous said...

Hey there!

I'm a stranger and this is my first comment in your blog.

Introductions aside, I think blogging is a great way to vent all those medical frustrations out (doesn't hurt as well to have a sense of humour since most medics have the personality of a cardboard box).

My solution for dealing with med exam blues probably doesn't work at all, but I like it because it's kitschy, cute and unlike Medicine...TOTALLY MEANINGLESS. So come, poke this antarctic mammal. Imagine it's the face of said Type A(nnoying) colleague.

Cheer up dude. I would KILL to do my clinicals in London instead of crummy South Australia. This place is a ghost town (but cheap).

Pawlu said...

er yeah... since when are penguins mammals?

Still... very cute :)

Michelle, Bethany, Zach & James said...

WHenever I feel like I should have killed my brain more learning something, I just remember what my mentor told me:
"What's really stupid is killing your brain to learn all this minutia before you are off in rotations. Half the stuff you learn will be disproved or outdated by the time you graduate. So preserve your brain. Work to improve your creativity and eloquence b/c thats what you'll really need in the field."


zewt said...

hey... have some faith!!! you're definitely coming back a doc!!! 2 weeks, make the best out of it!

If all fails... there's always a second chance.

Ms-Ellisa said...

Cool down man........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So you haven't revised enough - SO WHAT???
You have 2 weeks ahead.TWO WHOLE WEEKS....
Don't be too hard on yourself - make a fast-revision schedule - be frank with your tutors so they can help you out in this revision - study really hard - and kick ass :-)
Surely your smart enough...
And don't worry about letting people down - use it as a motive todo well. I don't know if I'm at all helpful - that's just what I would do if I was in your shoes....
Don't worry,just study,and make the best of it - whatever that is.

Unknown said...

I think you've just made me feel worse about my own revision.

But really though, be sensibly tough on yourself. Not sleeping is surely counterintuitive, though my parents tell me that's how they did it...I really don't think I'll fit in at cam. I don't quite understand two thirds of my physics so I need to knuckle down and I only have three weeks left!

Anonymous said...

ahem, you DO KNOW that there's a sure-fire way to get into Addenbrooke's Clinical School besides scoring a double first, don't you?



Anonymous said...

also, there are people who do well in their exams and didn't get their first choice clinical school.

pinksterz said...

exams season eh? same with me here. another medic students (but a beginner aka first year only). in egypt.


Anonymous said...

how is you not sleeping going to make the world a better place?

personally, i'd rather have a doctor who cares rather than a doc who knows every fact in the book but is a total asshole, and trust me, i know a few medical students who are going to turn out like that.

relax, angry medic. getting 'kicked out' isn't the end of the world. hell, just because you score a 1st in the bloody tripos doesn't mean you're the best doc in the world. like you say time and time again, the course here is so theoretical, you rarely use even half the stuff you are forced to mug, unless you go into medical research or something like that (but then again, not even half at that).

also, being a working doc, you'll have medical databases to look up diagnoses and treatments. it's not feasible to expect every doctor to know everything there is in medicine. that's why you have collaboration.

and i doubt your dos thinks you've let him down. he's probably just busy. like mine. and i know how busy he can get, so i don't fret about him not replying my e-mails.

it's 2 weeks to the exams and i went shooting in london. life isn't all about scoring at exams.

Anonymous said...

Awwwww Angry, please don't think like that, it hurts me to think that y o u are feeling that way. Just try to have the faith in yourself that I do...and that is a l o t of faith, let alone just plain knowledge that from reading your blog, I can tell you are a v e r y intellegent and caring person who will do very well..I command it be so...!

Much love and prayers from your "other mum", tracy

Anonymous said...

Hi Angry, me again, I just can't stand the way you put youself if you were me.......(a way different story)...But you are you, a strong, smart, funny, medical student who has what it takes to go where ever you are the best, go for it, I am cheering for you, my dear friend (I hope it is okay I call you that!) I love your blog, but more importantly, I know you can do it!

Much love, tracy

Calavera said...

What the...? How the...?

It's annoyed me slightly that your medical school can make someone like you feel so demotivated and disillusioned with medical school life.

Angry, you will make a fantastic doctor some day. You will. You don't need to come in the 99.99384749th percentile to be an awesome doctor, and one of the reasons why you feel so shit is because you're surrounded by people who happen to be in that percentile and you start to feel inadequate, and it distorts your perspective. Remember that as a Cambridge medic, you're probably sitting quite comfortably in the brainiest 5% of the population category. If not, 3%.

Angry, don't let this get to you. I hate stupid people who lie about how much they've revised too, and say, "Oh, mate... I know nothing!" And then when the consultant asks about ascites, they can tell you all the intricacies about transudates and exudates and blahblahblah.

In my first year of medical school, I never touched a book for my first mock exam. I told people this, and no one believed me, until I got 35%. Then, everyone was like, "Oh my goodness.... you weren't actually lying!" I was like, er... no, why the hell would I lie about how much I've revised?? If I haven't put in enough work, I can't get the grades. Surely that's obvious?

My advice to you: Chin up, pal, and head out for the lights of London! London rocks, it's got me, for one, and prolly Phoenix too, but you've also got so many cool things and in terms of medical education, you're likely to see so much more in a clinical setting in a London hospital than in Addenbrookes because of the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. You really will love it.

If your medical school is making you feel like this, and if they're not supporting you, as Phoenix says, you can shine in another place.

It's all about the kind of doctor you'll become at the end of the six years.

Chin up, Angry.


Calavera said...

and omg that turned into a bit of a rant, sorry!!

My Own Woman said...

For a minute there I thought you were my daughter ranting to me about her complete lack of competence. I'm going to tell you what I tell her.



Close your eyes and think back to the beginning of medical school. Have you grown? Do you know more now than you did then? Do you ask more questions now and think you know fewer answers? If the answer to those questions are "yes," then you have succeeded. Be proud of your accomplishments. Be proud of who you are.

Keep your nose up and don't let it run!

Anonymous said...

"Medical students feel the most insecure but are the most secure students"

chin up. In the end things will work out.

Anonymous said...

i will have to disagree with that first statement, but agree with the second.

you'll make it through.

medstudentitis said...

You've got TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Relax... take some beta blockers, whatever gets you by.

Anonymous said...

hey! I'm a first year medical student and first time commenting here although have always been reading your blog.

I can't say anything because I'm only at the beginning but you can be assured: you're not the only one feeling that way! Thats why it feels good reading your blog. All students feel that way, at least the people I know, so good luck! You'll make it out at the end!

And even if you fail (which is highly unlikely), its not the end of the world. Medical students of all people should know that:)

Syar said...

Gawd, here I am whining about having to call up annoying tween cheerleaders for a newspaper and you...well, your rant is way more valid than mine.

Hang in there. I'd agree with everyone. 2 weeks is not too late and there's still plenty you can do. See this through, and try your best. That's the only way you can truly NOT let anyone (or yourself down).

Good luck!

DundeeMedStudent said...

Right mister listen up. Dundeemedstudent's patented revision guide coming up.
1. Work out when you work best, Personally 6am-11am and 4pm- 7pm, and I don't work any other time, and I don't stress about it.
2. Eat well- don't think having ready meals will save you time, they might but you'll feel like shit cause your eating shit- so good food is a must.
3. Good sleep- if you have to go to bed at 9 so you can get some sleep then do it- don't stress out.
4. Get plenty of fresh air- walking to library counts, and try and get a good hour outside every few days.
5. don't freak out. Worrying always makes things worse.

You have 2 weeks now go use them.

Anonymous said...

stop blogging! don't want to see a single post till ur exams are over mister!

Gregory House, PA-C said...

YES! I know exactly where you're coming from? Studying for MCATs?? Umm I've given up on that there isn't anything I can do anymore.

ps - I imagine you being on of those people who claim to know nothing, but really knows everything

Tunku Halim said...

Hi Happy - when I was at university (about a million and a half years ago) and when doing the Bar exams, it wasn't about sleep deprivation that got you thru.

It was consistency. Keeping up with the work. Never letting it swamp you.

Eating well, sleeping well and exercise is part of the equation too!

Chris said...

Man, this is awesome. I love the Internet. I've just spent the morning (instead of studying - I only slept 3 hours last night and I need more before I can even think about studying. But I can't sleep because we have people over. I'm collapsing as soon as they leave though) reading the blogs of medical students around the world and it seems we are all going through the same thing. It's fantastic, this sense of unity with the World.

That's what gets me through my Moments :)

Anonymous said...

Some people say stress is good for you! For me personally, I've found it is GOOD to be stressed when coming to revision - but majorly bad to get worked up about being stressed.
Im currently at one of these modern PBL based schools, and I'd have to say I'd give ANYTHING to study at Cambridge let alone London. The teaching at my school is absolutley diabolical - and regarding the other med students in my year; I wouldnt let them near my dog :P.

Anyway, getting back to the point:
1. Stay Calm
2. Dont over-exert yourself
3. Be passionate about your revision (well try anyway!)
4. Focus on revision now - focus on clinical placements when the time comes. And finally
5. Try to appreciate that others would kill to be where you are now!

You'll do fine!

Anonymous said...

I was totally going to leave you a few words of encouragement, but alas I am beaten mightily to the punch. You are truly blessed to have many friends, virtual or otherwise. You will do perfectly well. Breathe ...

SeaSpray said...

Hi A.M. - The fact that you are a dolphin in with a sea of sharks demonstrates your character, strength, tenacity and ability to overcome.

You can do this. You vented - good to let off steam - release the anxieties.

Now - STOP being negative. There is power in the words we speak. If a negative thought comes in - redirect to something more life giving. I don't know your faith - but there IS power in prayer.

Medic you CAN do this and you WILL do this. You are going to sail through this. :)

Anonymous said...

And please post a reply so we know you're alive!

Anonymous said...

omg. 52 comments already. i bet deep down you were just trying to make a post which people will respond

wellll even though its going to sound exactly like what the others are saying, i think sleep is good. recall the memory lectures, and you will notice that it is during sleep that mempry is laid down. so yeah, dont ditch it.

as for cramming everything in at hte last moment, i'll say this - do your best, you'll regret if you wasted your time now, and gave up before giving it your best shot. the worst feeling in the world is not the fact that you could not answer the questions, but instead knowing you could if you had spent more time studying. regret is truly a powerful emotion - i guess it what makes us human.

there comes a point i guess where you have to take stock of yourself and say no matter how my restuls end up, i WILL make sure that i do my best! god will do the rest - at least then you can blame god :)

oh and if it makes you feel better - i think dolphins are cuter than sharks.


Ruairidh said...

I'm in the same position and I understand what you're going through!

If you're that angry about it then use your anger to study!

Push yourself as hard as you can!

Anonymous GP said...

haha I never finished my curriculum b4 the exams and I always did just fine.

It's a battle to motivate self and keep on till the end. You just have to grin and bear it. It will soon be over.

Just do your best.
If you want to succeed the best thing is sleep. Your brain needs to consolidate and make sense of things. So don't panic, just do your best.

You'll be fine.

London clinical teaching is pretty good, you have to interview to get into them too you know!! They don't just let any old oxbridge riff raff in :) joking!

You are still in cam.. a disappointment would be to fail.. so just make sure you pass, keep going, revise the way it works for you, and do past papers !!


The Quiet Storm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shrinked Immaculate said...

Why dont u come to India, you wont have a choice and then u study exactly what u are told to. And everyone goes home happy.

Anonymous said...

Right I'm reading this late but let me tell you a few things.

I went to the other university. I failed a lot of exams in 1st / 2nd year - a lot. Including nearly failing my resits once - ooops

I left Oxford and went to London, where I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I also discovered about the age of 22 that if you work consistently for exams during the week, you can still get pissed every weekend and actually do quite well.

Failing exams is not the end of the world but it is a ballache.

I got 71% (equivalent of 1st) in my written final. How, by working slowly and consistently. I am certainly not preaching, my early days were borderline alcoholism and exam failure, but they were just as useful a learning experience as getting a distinction in every exam.

I am now a good doctor and very happy in my chosen specialty.

Chill out. It's not all about staying in Cambridge.

peace said...

Loved the idea of studying in particular hours. Maybe I'll use it one day. Thank you