Mythbusting: eight myths about studying medicine
‘You got this!’ Saudi Arabian medical student Noor Alsaeed has some brilliant advice for making sure you do the course you want to do
1. It’s hard
When I had to choose what to do at college, I was torn between studying medicine, the major I really wanted, and studying another major that made me feel safe. I was terrified of pursuing medicine because of the idea that it was going to be really hard and I would fail.
However, in reality, every major has its challenges and what matters at the end of the day is to give yourself a chance to succeed before assuming you would fail. So I decided to choose the option that scared me the most because I knew it would be help me grow the most.
I took it one semester at a time and even though it’s not the easiest of courses, it’s doable and manageable. While it does get tougher each year, you learn how to become stronger and more resilient.
2. It’s only for really smart people
It’s not about being smart, it’s about studying smartly and figuring the best way things will work for you. I went in thinking that everyone is smarter than me but I quickly realised that being smart is subjective and everyone is different. You don’t have to be “naturally” smart to study medicine. Everyone has their unique way of retaining information and as long as you are putting in the effort, results will follow.
3. It’s only for rich kids
While it is am expensive course, there are many ways in which you can get financial aid. Some countries offer fully funded sponsorships for their students to study abroad while some colleges and universities can provide financial aid to students in need. The fees differ based on your country of origin, so check the website of your university of choice for what is applicable to you.
4. You will have no social life
Medicine is a very a social course and one of the core skills you need as a healthcare professional is to be able to deal with people. From an academic point of view, you will have many chances to engage with students through group projects and placements.
From a social point of view, there are many events throughout the year that you can participate in. You just have to find that work-life balance and you will be good to go.
5. You will be burnt out
It’s normal for coursework and life circumstances to get overwhelming from time to time and this can lead to burnout. This is why it’s important to have other interests and hobbies to do while you are going through the course and always seek help if needed.
6. The course is too long
Medicine can range from five to seven years in length based on the programme you’re enrolled in. While this might seem daunting, you will be surprised at how quickly time flies. The dynamic of your studies will change as you progress from the theoretical to the clinical so things won’t be stagnant and you will have to keep adapting in an interesting way.
7. Rate of failure is high
There are many reasons for people to drop out of their courses, from academic ones to personal ones. You are given chances and support if you’re academically struggling. While there are people that fail, there are a lot more that succeed, so if thousands could do it before you, then you can too!
8. Medical students beed to be tough and resilient no matter what
Medical schools in Ireland recognise the importance of a student having a healthy balanced life. As adolescents, our mental health requires a lot of care and attention. So it is very normal to have some issues and there are many ways to get through it.
There are plenty of services and support systems for those in need. For example, there is NiteLine, an anonymous support line run by student for students available every night of the term. There are also free counselling services provided for students by colleges.
As someone who has experienced mental health issues, I have learned that help will always be given to those who ask for it. It didn’t made me any less of a medical student and no one has belittled my struggles. So it’s ok to not be ok and not strong all the time! You are not alone and you can always get through it.