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Part II: The Downfall of Medicine

by Camilla Siig 9 days ago in career

Complaints department is open

The Whistleblower

Ok, we're going to take a detour from the last post. So park the MBPhD failure story for a moment. Also, I've included memes this time. Who doesn't love memes, amirightoramiright?

I'm going to rant/intellectualise about uni fees. In particular, today's topic is about the "" that I have received from UCL. Let me just put something straight. I think UCL is a pretty good institution as far as universities go (I chose to be here remember), but by no means does that prove medical students are really receiving quality education at the standard for which they are paying. It is also important to note that my points hereon are most pertinent to the COVID period of medical school (although many are still pertinent to non-COVID times). To put it bluntly, COVID has been extremely disruptive to the average student's experience. I acknowledge fully that all staff, especially those affiliated with the medical school, were equally (but differently) impacted by the difficulties and pressures caused by the impact of this virus. I mean no disrespect by my criticisms but I simply speak plainly.

I can also personally testify as one of the few students redoing the 4th year that I am a fairly unique case. I am one of the few that can directly compare the experience of a pre-COVID 4th year against a COVID 4th year - I even did the year in the same module order (there are 3). Anyway, here is my case:

Complaint 1: £9,250 per year is A LOT of money. Especially if you consider that the people at medical school are on the whole, between ages 18 and 24. What sort of financial position do you really expect an average 18-24 year old to be in these days? Is it really reasonable to set the uni fee at £9,250 PER YEAR for aspiring doctors - what happened to investing in your future? Side note: that totals to £37,000 across 4 years - by the GRACE *sarcasm* of the system, the last 2 years are covered by the NHS...although, I am still grateful for this, can't lie. The NHS will be lost if the medical institution itself is contributing to its downfall by driving students into huge amounts of debt whilst encouraging them to commit to an overworking, underpaying NHS. Times are different. We are young, severely in debt, walking into a system that does not reward good work fairly. I don't even want rewards in terms of money to be honest - I don't care to be rich or famous. The only reason I bring up the issue of money is because it has become so unequivocally fundamental to survival in the society we live in. Not to mention the negative impact this will have on the overall economy when I can't pay off all my debt. It's not like we don't have enough economic issues in the UK as it stands. I'm no economy buff but I did study HL IB Economics at high school (hahaha - basically I memorised a bunch of lame/boring graphs and I regret not doing music instead, OH WELL). I am definitely at least 50k in debt (I don't look at it because it hurts my eyes, brain and soul...also I don't understand money - DM me if you want to be my personal accountant...bear in mind I'm poor)...uni fees have risen by over 300% since 2006-7, not to mention inflation rates on student loans have also increased from around 3% to 6% during my time in higher education. To emphasise, I have spent 7 years in higher education thus far, to start on a base salary of £26k at age 32ish (depending on if I take a year out because I want to) which time I will have spent a total of 9 years in higher education. To be fair, I have possibly taken the longest route to get into/through medicine but EVEN SO, it is completely ridiculous. Not to mention, the working hours will not be kind and I will effectively be at the beck and call of the sick: no rest for the wicked. One could argue that I have chosen this and to this I say, "Yes SIR, your intellect is unparalleled." Of course I have chosen it. I chose Medicine because it's F**KING brilliant. I cannot think of a better way to live by principles I value. I would have no problems going to work for the money machine, don't get me wrong. I do not lack the brains or brawn to deal with finances but I am beyond bored by the prospect of making money from money for the sake of money. Talk about a waste of time. Granted, if this is what you do, all power to you. I reserve all judgement, but this is the way I see it when it comes to my personal outlook. Please do not be offended <3. I love you.

Complaint 2: The admin has been abysmal. RIGHT. This is a topic. It's boring, not gunna lie. And this is basically going to be a rant...*awkward* Camilla, all you do is rant...I think it's pretty obvious you're going to rant some more. *Sigh*...fine, you caught me but it's fun right? We love a bit of stress relief. This time last year, I was so stressed when I was studying and my life was falling apart is at least 3 significant ways, I noticed I was sighing so much that I literally searched for an illness that could explain my symptoms. It turns out it's a real thing called sighing syndrome (inventive name guys, could've put a little creative thought into it): here's a cool link It's legit - I could go into the psychology behind a lot of this stuff just based on my fascination of people and behaviour but that'll have to be another series.

Ok sorry, back to the complaint lol.

Yeh, so the timetabling is bad. Just to clarify, I empathise with everyone working for the NHS. If there was an award for peak inefficiency, the NHS wins. Like WIN WINS. Ask literally anybody who is affiliated with the NHS and I can assure you, they know. Medicine is fast-paced, highly adaptable and f**king chaotic. Everyone is running around living on x2 speed. It's a thing that medical students watch all videos on x2 and hope that it just gets absorbed into the brain.

This is a real struggle.

Doctors get bleeped (it's the worst sound ever) left, right and centre for anything from dumb requests to life-threatening emergencies. People don't have TIME. It's completely ridiculous what is demanded of a doctor (I'm saying doctor because this is where my understanding lies but the same applies to every amazing person trying in the NHS). You're expected to have the grace of God whilst dealing with people that just shove responsibility onto you because they don't know what else to do (this includes other doctors by the way #inception. Sometimes, we don't know either #humanafterall (Daft Punk is so sick).

So the med school has this idea that students, like doctors, are available 24/7 and live by our emails on tap. We can be sent an email with our timetable on the weekend for a rotation that starts in to 2 days. It's fully expected that God forbid you have other plans, they are inferior and clearly, if you need to work to pay for your extortionate fees and London living costs (and your alcohol addiction), you're just not dedicated to being a slave to medicine. I love learning and I signed up for this. But dammit, let me have a life that is not ONLY medicine. We have such a gross *puke* reputation of being medics.

Eurgh, GROSS.

This ties into the next complaint but it p*sses me off that the timetable is so malleable to the point that 1) we don't know who we have to show up to when we get assigned to a ward or whatever and 2) if we do, often they don't know who's arriving, are late, don't show up, or don't care. Obviously, sometimes it's great but honestly, some doctors *cough* consultants *cough* are so self important that their time is literal gold. How dare you make eye contact, inferior being. You pathetic waste of you even know all the NICE guidelines off by heart. Disclaimer: this isn't always the case and on the whole I have immense respect for experts in their field. They're just tired, old and fed up haha. I would be too.

The irony of this meme is not lost hahahahahah I die.

To round this off, essentially I'm saying that the timetabling is so unreliable, especially with cr*ppy NHS wifi and online learning alongside a bl**dy pandemic, that I really don't understand how much of the £9,250 is spent on sorting admin. Can I get a breakdown please? BESIDES, I am the one paying YOU, the uni, to provide a service. Whether I attend absolutely everything or not is actually completely MY CHOICE. That's how life works...since when did I have to prove myself for something I'm paying for/signed up for? I thought that's what the admissions process is there for. Clearly, I want to be here. I CHOSE TO BE HERE. As long as I am assessed to be of the passing standard, there should not be any babying as far as I'm concerned. I do not need to explain the intricacies of my life and I do not need monitoring. Go away student support - you have good intentions but honestly, you suck. Sorry. Disclaimer: I do think overall attendance is important but seriously, the average medical student is very hardworking. It's a given.

Complaint 3: "Student engagement is not good enough" - WHAT ABOUT DOCTOR/TEACHER/MENTOR ENGAGEMENT? It boggles my mind that I cannot walk into hospital with my little medical student badge and ask any old doctor to teach me. Teach me something, ANYTHING. I don't care how insignificant you might think it is. The amount of times I've managed to find where I'm supposed to be with close to zero instructions (hospital is huge and confusing - generally, medical students feel like annoying ants wandering around aimlessly hoping for crumbs of wisdom as they are sprinkled from the skies where God sits on his throne) and ended up sitting around in silence, either bewildered as to what's really going on and/or watching a doctor stare at their screen is absurd. If admin is such a huge part of doctoring, why not show me how to do some of the admin...even if it's dull. In the past, medicine used to run as more of an apprenticeship type programme which, BY THE WAY, was proposed as a solution during COVID. Before we started the year, it was suggested that we would be sticking to one team in the hospital and there would be a more intimate relationship established between student and mentor. This did not happen. Honestly, there was basically no difference between pre-COVID and supposed COVID apprenticeship style teaching. We get teaching from anybody and its dispersed amongst random doctors who can show a wide variation of interest in actually providing good tuition to students. It really just depends on an individual's enthusiasm to teach which as far as I can tell, is pot luck. Often, they'll ask us what we want to do and a lot of the teaching is very off-the-bat. Even the lectures and prepped materials are relatively subpar. On one occasion I watched a professor scribble online, attempting to draw poor representations of something like epitheial cells, and I don't understand why a slide wasn't prepped with a clear diagram prior to the session. I struggle to follow the narration when I can't even make out what you've drawn, plus it's so boring to watch someone try to draw online even if you have artistic talent (which definitely is NOT the case most of the time - you've seen most doctors' handwriting right?). To support this claim, I must point out that all medical students subscribe to some sort of third party online medical education (which people also choose to pay for btw!). If university is really so effective, why on earth are students outsourcing learning materials and at such a high rate? Even the fact that the university doesn't provide question banks at the same level as online sites like passmed and quesmed really has me questioning why the fees are so pricey. I feel like I'm self-taught for the most part and that uni guidance is really quite limited. Most of my procedural practise (eg. recording observations, taking bloods, doing ECGs etc.) I managed to get while I was working as a medical student volunteer running nursing jobs in A&E during COVID due the short-staffing issue. This was really useful for me because I was getting paid whilst learning. I also felt like I was taken more seriously as a member of the team and honestly, the nurses taught me so much. They also don't have inflated egos and it's a lot easier to have a human-to-human conversation with them. Whilst doctors are on-the-whole extremely knowledgeable, it doesn't necessarily make them good teachers. They sound quite bored, unenthusiastic and busy (which is fair). Once, I spent about 20 minutes finding a registrar which I had been assigned to for shadowing in emergency medicine. A&E is made up of like 5 different sections, especially at the Royal Free Hospital where it's extra confusing for no reason. Anyway, I was rushing around trying to find this person who I'd never seen before and all I had was a bleep number. When I managed to catch him, he literally just rolled his eyes at me. I thought that was super rude, but I just ignored it. Eventually, I got mugged off and asked a random foundation year doctor to teach me. Pathetic. Generally, the younger the doctor, the nicer and more willing they are to teach...EURGH, I'M just SO ANNOYED. Anyway...that's enough complaining for one post. But, I can assure you dears, there are plenty more examples I can give you. It's so lame.

In summary:

The fact that this meme exists and every medical student understands it is f**king evidence-based science as far as I'm concerned.


Camilla Siig
Camilla Siig
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Camilla Siig

Curiosities: an exploration of the relationship between The World and my Inner World.

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