Please Approve of Me!

Time for another post,

I did skip posting last week but that was mainly relating to me collapsing from exhausation and then not even remembering where I was when I woke up. I intended on this post being about getting so tired and losing inspiration to keep seeing patients, however I actually found myself re-inspired in the past 2 days so I guess I have to nix that idea.

In short form, I can say that the course here is structured so that the first few weeks of term are monotonous and after 6 weeks I had decided that I simply didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again without some form of tangible improvement. But then we had an opportunity to meet some fascinating patients with quite rare conditions and it rekindled something and so now I should be fine until the beginning of the school year proper (hopefully)

What has happened since the last time I posted was this annual event that always kind of weirds me out. Elections to a whole swath of medical student societies, on the surface it doesn’t really seem that big a deal but you have to remember that most medical students are incredibly Type A people and all look ahead to applying for an internship and want to beef up their resumes. That means that what should be a fairly innocuous election for the secretary of a cycling society becomes highly competitive. Now I don’t doubt that a lot of the people running are highly competent, and some will even actually enjoy cycling but I am also certain that many don’t care at all and instead just want the position to boost their resume. And of course the other factor is that having a nice resume makes it easier to get new positions and so you end up with some students acting as the President of 16 societies and then other studeents stressing about having literally no extracurricular experience.

The other effect of this set up is that if you can’t win an election then you start your own student society which would make you automatically part of the executive and now you get to put “Founder and President of Club Blah” down on your CV. Of course if a club already exists you can’t make another one with the same theme so now we really are scraping the bottom of the barrel for new club ideas. Medical Tea Appreciation Society? Medical Student Birdwatching? Now sure in a general university setting these would excellent clubs that would surely have a lot of interest, but let us be honest: the medical student cohort isn’t that large here and noone really has the time to go on extended birdwatching trips. And furthermore, and this is something that does get to me, has everyone forgotten that we are all still students? Even if we spend all our time in a hospital we are still very much students and have complete access to all the student societies they have there. Or do we not think that other degrees can play basketball or run a marathon? Are we concerned that perhaps some other degree would rub off on us and we would have to deal with other bothersome viewpoints and actually go through the dignity of having our minds expanded? One convincing argument would be that we don’t have a lot of free time, but I don’t see a reason why a medical society has the magical ability to schedule 1 team meeting a week that can match all the students’ availabilities while a normal club couldn’t.

To be honest I come across as dismissive of the entire pageantry but I will admit I do also succumb to the desire to desperately seek out some form of extracurricular role. I’d like to think I am only pursuing roles that I am truly passionate about but with every application a little anxious voice does pipe up in the back of my mind making me conscious of impending internship applications. The entire process reminds me in particular of a story I read baout tobacco companies back in the late 20th century (80s I want to say?) where new laws being introduced in a country somewhere that would severely restrict the amount the companies could use on advertising. Instead of protesting against the law, the companies all embraced it because they realised that all the companies were simply matching all the others on advertising spending, and so each of them was spending lots of money but none of them were any better off. This made all of the spending essentially a waste, except if they did lay down their monetary arms then any company that kept spending would have an advantage. This left the companies at a detente until the legislation came along and forced them all to stop spending saving all the companies millions in advertising a year but meaning that none of them were missing out.

This week where all dash to add a couple lines to a resume that will be skimmed over for a few seconds only, years down the line, it definitely reminds me of the tobacco companies frantically spending all their money for an imperctible benefit. That’s what my brain says anyway, my heart says “Maybe I can add my participation prize for a 4th Grade Spelling Bee? That might be relevant for an intern”

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