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Tips for medical students on how to excel

Medicine

The university year is well and truly underway for medical students. Here are some tips on how to excel this year.

Dr Hon Weng Chong, co-founder and CTO of CliniCloud, a health-tech startup that has recently received $5 million in funding from Tencent and Ping An Ventures, inked a deal with Best Buy and partnered with Doctor on Demand. He says he met his business partner at medical school.

“My co-founder Andrew and I met at the University of Melbourne, where we were both in our final years of MBBS (Andrew was a year ahead of me). Both of us had a passion for technology and for the benefits it could bring to healthcare – we struck it off immediately. Soon after, we started working on CliniCloud together, with a mission to bring more healthcare services into the home. CliniCloud has just started shipping its first product, a smartphone connected stethoscope + thermometer built for consumers which can be used with telemedicine services.

A tip for students new to medicine – it’s very easy to become absorbed in the art of medicine and forget about the outside world. Be sure to make an effort to learn and participate in activities outside of medicine during your studies and residency, whether that is through sport, the arts or, like me, technology. It’s more fulfilling than you might think and important to your personal growth as a student of medicine and future doctor. Of course, it may even bring opportunities that you never expected.”

Dr Hon Weng Chong and Dr Andrew Lin

 

Christopher Lemon, NSW Medical Students’ Council Chair for 2016 says:

“The first years of Medicine are about finding your feet: immerse yourself in the content, make those key skills in history taking and physical examination second nature, and don’t forget to expose yourself to all the other aspects of being a doctor, such as leadership and advocacy. Keep those hobbies and friends from outside medical school to help you relax and unwind when you need to, and always remember to make sure you are having fun! You’ve got to make sure you enjoy the journey to reap the real rewards of reaching your goal!”

 

Stephanie Pommerel, a medical student from Brisbane says:

“I have come to learn that if I don’t reconnect in this way to myself and to nature, I go to sleep and wake at night stuck on a mental program – running through disease mechanisms, or worse, what I haven’t been able to get done that day/week and the more that always awaits me. To wake exhausted, as many medical students do, creates a chore of the next day, a leaching of enjoyment, an inability to completely take in information, as well as mood changes and general feelings of struggling to cope. So begins the precipitous slope to burnout.

Despite the pressures of medical school, I am here because I love medicine, and I see the potential for not only my own personal growth through its expression, but also for that of my colleagues around me, as well as the field of medicine as a whole. By regularly reconnecting to the reasons I have chosen medicine, appreciating the qualities in myself that place me so well to practice it, I can reflect on each day’s course, seeing moments that I have truly enjoyed. I monitor my energy levels and note how well I am not only able to achieve, but also to relax, to release and let go the pressures that build during the medical course. These methods ensure that the first glimpse of feeling overwhelmed, burdened, or ‘over it’ are readily detected and techniques can be employed to regroup and recover my sense of enjoyment.”

 

In a story featured by My Health Career previously, 2014 fifth year Monash University medical student Patryck Lloyd-Donald said that his rural placements during medical school were advantageous, as having small class sizes and strong relationships with both junior and senior medical staff meant that he was better prepared for his senior clinical years. He also said that as a group, the students in his cohort who had gone on rural clinical placements were over-represented in the high scores for his year’s final exams at the end of 2014.

 

Jane O’Shea, APD and Licensee for Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs (www.dieteffects.com.au) says that transitioning from one environment to another creates an ideal environment for people to lose track of their own health.

“Whether it is going to University, moving out of home, changing jobs, getting married, or just coming home at night, it is a time of change and that can create situations where eating habits become reactions rather than considered responses.

It is not always about the food, other factors must also be taken into account. Some of reasons which can alter our eating habits include: change in access to food, freedom to make different food choices, inexperience in making healthy choices or inabilities to create healthy meals, access to kitchen facilities, lack of time to devote to creating healthy meals, shortage of funds, peer pressure, stress, emotional upsets etc.

At these times, it is easy to forget about self-care and weight gain, lack of energy and digestive discomfort slowly become the norm. This is because there is a change of focus and we start eating in a different way.

To avoid these things happening here are some strategies that can easily be implemented to help.
1.   If you are not sure how to create a healthy, balanced diet, seek help.
2.   Maintain a regular eating/sleeping/physical activity routine.
3.   Plan ahead – always have the makings of a nutritious meal/snack on hand.
4.   Maintain good hydration.
5.   Listen to the signals your body will be sending you i.e. hunger/fullness/thirst/tiredness/digestive comfort etc and respond appropriately.
6.   If you find your eating habits have got out of hand, introduce some mindfulness into your daily living. Take a moment to observe your environment and examine how it impacts on your eating habits (i.e. stress, peer pressure, habits, feelings etc.). This will enable you to become your own problem solver, discover your options and work out possible solutions so you can make changes that can fit in with your own individual lifestyle.”

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Images: supplied

 

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