Looking Back at Medical School - How I Became a Psychiatrist

At the end of med school there is a lot of stories to remember and share. In this blog post series, we would like to tell the stories of young doctors about their experiences with studying medicine to help and inspire those who are now in the same shoes as our interviewed doctors used to be.

In this blog entry we would like to introduce Z.K. to you who studied medicine in Hungary, now  working as a psychiatrist in Switzerland.

Why did you choose psychiatry?

It’s not easy to figure out what fits you the best. Most  people don’t know it even  at the end of their studies. The first 2-3 years can’t help at all because they are focused on the theory: besides anatomy and biochemistry you have no time for getting a deeper insight into the work of medical doctors and  there is no chance to see real patients in the first 3 years.

But when I started to attend the clinical courses I realized that most of the patients have some mental conditions, which can be blamed for their physical problems. I wanted to treat the source of the problem.

What were your best moments of the 6 years?

Passing the anatomy exam

Learning a full month day and night without leaving your room, you have only the hope of passing the exam. But once you are over it, that’s a load off your mind. It’s a more important moment and a greater relief  than the final exam.

Traumatology exam

Instead of the official exam items I had a professional conversation with my professor about the accident of Michael Schumacher. It’s  cool when you don’t have to repeat word-for-word from the books, but you have the chance to discuss real medical cases.

Exchange programs and rotations with the Association of Medical Students

International clinical rotations have taught me a lot. It helped to apply the knowledge from the classroom and the books to real life medical cases. And, of course, working and studying in a  foreign country can open new perspectives for yourself both in professional and in personal terms.

Do you remember your first patient?

She was an elderly lady. After we had learnt how to do a respiratory physical examination and how to use the stethoscope in internal medicine, I had to perform it on this lady but to my surprise nothing was like I had been taught. None of the internal organs could be heard on the right place. It turned out that the lady had situs inversus  that is a very rare birth defect in which organs in the chest and abdomen are positioned in a mirror image from normal positions. It occurs in an estimated 1 in 10,000 people. Of course, the lady knew her conditions but as part of the training program she was asked by my professor not to let me know.

Credit: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/413679-overview

What was your survival strategy for the exam periods?

Caffeine and memory pills, sometimes coffee. It’s a huge commitment for more than 6 years, but I was lucky as I got all the support from my family and friends. Creating mind-maps is very popular but I just sat down and studied. When I became very exhausted I slept some hours and then began again.

Memorable experiences in your clinical training?

Obviously, students are nervous in the beginning. First, we practiced surgical suturing on the skin of a pig and other procedures on manakins. But it’s completely different in real life. I wished the patient didn’t know it was my first time. Once I told an elderly lady that it was my first time to draw blood and offered her to ask for a more experienced doctor. But she refused this option telling me she used to be a nurse so she knew how difficult this could be for the first time. In the end she praised me for doing a good job.

What were the most exciting medical cases?

Every case was interesting from the elderly man with diabetes to a child with diarrhea. In immunology I could meet patients like in the popular TV show House M.D. Most cases here were quite exciting because their symptoms occurred as the result of stress.

Any advice for students who are about to start their medical studies?

If a specific area catches your interest, don’t hesitate to go and proactively find opportunities  to deepen your knowledge in t it. You will only get to know what you really want to become if you try different things and rule out those that don’t fit to you.  The sooner you find yourself in medicine, the easier med school will be.

How do you see doctors’ training in the future?

I can imagine that VR solutions will be widely implemented in medical education in 30 years.  I find them really cool and useful but they won’t contribute directly to the improvement of  the doctor-patient relationship. When my grandpa was doing his medical studies, there was only one book for the entire class so they had to share it. All of them studied from their own notes but they managed to become good physicians. Nowadays everybody has the presentations and apps on their own tablet. I think being a good doctor doesn’t depend on the tools you have. It’s about commitment, stamina and invincible curiosity.

 Do you have a story to share? 

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