As I write this I am sitting at home feeling a little cold (Auckland has made me soft) but also super happy and oddly relaxed despite my impending bio test. Unlike most others I stayed at the deserted hall and studied over easter which was pretty depressing and having just completed my first round of tests I am very much appreciating the break, the home cooked meals and my awesome family! (There you go that’s your shout out I hope you are happy now)
At the start of the semester I was told that biomed is simply one big mind game and everyday that I trudge my way through this infamous first year course I find myself agreeing with this more and more.
In many ways this year is not about testing us on our understanding of the content covered in lectures. It is bigger than that. It is a test of our passion and perseverance, our mental character, our ability to cope under pressure, our diligence and all the qualities medical students and eventually good doctors need to have.
But why is it such a mind game? Why have I heard of people having mental breakdowns, and why do so many drop out after the first week, after the first tests or after the first semester?
(Note: All memes in this blog have been recently posted/shared online by fellow biomedders so are highly accurate insights into the mentality of my class mates.)
1) It is competitive. Of course it’s gonna be competitive when the number of people in second year med is significantly smaller than the number of first years who want them. At times the sheer size of the cohort can be very daunting. As well as this, when you are surrounded by mostly intelligent, high achieving people it is easy to feel like you are not good enough. There is no denying the contesting atmosphere and overtime this constant competitive undertone can take its toll.
2) Just one bad mark can be enough to make you feel like giving up on it all. You only have to look at the recent posts online to see the effects of our first round of mid-term tests results. People are sad, disappointed and angry to the point where one student has anonymously accused the lecturers of writing an unfair test that was impossible to complete in time. (Which is frankly rude and straight up ridiculous as it is clearly the students own fault due to poor time management) Anyway, what I’m saying is that because you need pretty high marks, one bad test can make people believe they have to kiss goodbye to all their medicine dreams.
3) There is a constant pressure in classes to achieve. When your chances of getting an interview depend almost entirely on you getting top marks, there is pressure to perform in every lab, every online quiz, every mid term test, every tutorial, every assignment and every exam. The stress is NEVER ending.
4) The workload is enormous. The reality is because of the huge amount of content and the need to know everything to get those good marks there is really no way to avoid this. As they say there is no substitute for hard work. (unless you have a photographic memory which for most including me this is sadly not the case) The long hours of study can be pretty draining. At times it is hard to find the motivation when you can’t even see the top of the mountain of work you need to do.
5) Everyone around you is constantly studying, talking, living and basically breathing biomed to the point where it can feel like you have no life outside of your course. Especially living in a hall and on a floor like mine which is over 50% biomed/health science.
Now that I have written a small psychology thesis I hope you can see why first year biomed is such a mental challenge. If I have made it sound like a nightmare which no one would willingly sign up I apologise that was not my intention. But if you still think biomed is for you (which you should), stay tuned for my next blog where I will share my ‘insider’ tips on how I play the mind game that is biomed.
Till next time, stay happy