Medicine has always been the most respected profession in all societies around the world because it deals with the bodies of living beings; all of which are very complex to understand and take care of. From bringing a wailing newborn baby in the world to easing a wheezing old man’s suffering, what can be nobler than saving the life of living beings, helping them survive and maintain their health? Medicine is no doubt the most gallant of all careers. For doctors and people in the medical world, there are no rich or poor, no good or bad, there are just healthy and the ill. And they try to cure as many people as possible and make them healthy. It’s no wonder that curing others through medicine is considered nothing short of a miracle.
However, as noble as the profession is, it is also the toughest to master and one of the most difficult courses to complete. A simple glance at the entrance exams for admission in the top medical colleges in India will show how competitive the field has become. Right from the beginning to the end of medical courses, students face a lot of problems and challenges which are of far greater magnitude than students of other courses.
Here are the major challenges faced by medical students.
1) The stress demon
You might be amazed but it’s a fact that a major chunk of efforts has been dedicated to studying stress among medical students. Being a highly demanding course, there are a number of causes of stress and leave impacting effects on the physical and psychological health of the students. The major causes are attributed to the fact that students have to learn a lot of new things in a short time, undergo tough exams with the fear that failing them will end their career and the lack of opportunities to review what they have learned. The urge to meet the demands of the curriculum inhibits in them a sense of urgency as they struggle to work harder. Often students experience the highest amount of stress after their graduation when they start their training.
Experts suggest that students should be trained in emotional intelligence so that they are prepared and brace themselves for the incoming stress threats. It’s also suggested that students’ stress should be measured and monitored. It was found that students who have healthy meals and those who involve themselves in extracurricular activities were less vulnerable to stress.
2) The unending course and workload
Medical courses are the longest courses in the educational world. It takes nearly a decade or more to become a fully qualified doctor. This period is marred by a number of complications brought by the demanding curriculum. It is not easy to maintain patience throughout this long period and often students lose themselves. In their bid to complete all their work, students often end up harming their own health.
Students should be strongly advised not to let the workload affect their health because, without good health, they won’t be able to carry on. A strong and constant reminder to carry on with their studies and maintain the balance between the course activities and their life will also help in easing the workload stress.
3) Medical terminology
Have no illusion here, you are expected to know and memorise all terms and information related to medicine. A doctor cannot afford to say ‘I don’t know’, ever. Neither can they be expected to make mistakes. Medical terminology poses a huge challenge for students as they are expected to know all the medical terms and words and literally turn themselves into a human medical encyclopedia.
Experts have suggested several proven tips to overcome this challenge. For example, many medical terms originate from Greek or Latin, even if you know them slightly, you will be able to get an idea as to what that word means. Connecting a term with a visual imagination in your mind will also help. For example, Encephalitis means a severe inflammation of the brain. To remember this, imagine a brain-shaped balloon which is getting bigger.
Flashcards are also a great way to remember terms and words. You write a term on one side of a card and its meaning on the other side; you can use these cards anywhere; on a bus or a cafe and quiz yourself. Flashcards can also be made through several study apps available on smartphones.
4) The real (and raw) deal:
The most challenging part comes when students are exposed to the harsh and practical realities of the medical world. The direct contact with patients, witnessing their emotional stress and breakdowns, seeing wounds and operating on real human bodies is enough to stress out students.
Even though as a student you will slowly come to accept the harsh realities, it will still make your confidence askew for a while. The best way to deal with this is by avoiding yourself from getting emotionally involved in your patients. All medical experts, as well as people from other professions, agree that emotional attachment with patients can prove dangerous and can also inhibit inefficiency.
From the very start of the course till the very end and even after you become a certified doctor, finance will remain a challenge for a considerable time. For one, the course itself is long and quite expensive. Without adequate financial options and prior plans and strategies to overcome this challenge, it will be very difficult to pursue a career in medicine.
Although the medical field has evolved and many new streams have emerged, the basic concepts of the study are closely related and similar to each other. Sound knowledge of medicine, unshakable patience, and unwavering confidence is a must to pursue a career in medicine. However, students should also have backup options along with a planned strategy to deal with all problems which are sure to arise while pursuing it.