An open letter to first years: You’re doing fine

By Grace Scolyer & Alannah Murray

To our new medical students,

Relax.

It’s going to be okay. No, really, you’re going to be okay. I know you feel like your world has shrunk and exploded at the same time – after spending so long as a big fish in a small pond, you’re now in an ocean crowded with bigger fish (and it’s pretty hard to breathe underwater anyway). Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

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On running (away from your responsibilities)

By Calypso Magyar & Maisie Hands

For many, the stress of medical school and need to study can get in the way of partaking in physical activity. You tell yourself that you got way more than 10,000 steps in while walking around the hospital so you don’t need to do anything more on top of that, or that you can’t afford to take an hour off from all that anatomy you need to learn. Unfortunately that physical activity is often coloured by the stress of the day and doesn’t give you any space to unwind.

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The first time I saw a patient die

By Aaron Kovacs

The first time I ever saw a patient die was just over two years ago, only a month or two into my first clinical placement as a third year medical student. She was an older lady, maybe in her mid sixties, with advanced uterine cancer. The resident and I found her lying on top of her bed, eyes wide and fixed in place, her body rigid as concrete.

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Sharing the Burden

By Grace Scolyer & Alannah Murray

How to Speak

When I first noticed that my brain wasn’t working the way it used to, it wasn’t tragically melancholic like I expected. Addressing, admitting, and conveying my depressed thoughts was embarrassing, confusing, strange, and disorientating. More than anything though, it was just plain awkward explaining what was going on — but I knew it was time to let someone else share the burden, because I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t.

Since then, I’ve had plenty of strange, vulnerable, and poorly-segued conversations with my friends, family, and doctors, trying to explain the messy parts of my brain. Here’s what I have learnt.

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The (Great) Unknown

By Rose Brazilek

Watching the trepidatious first year medical students enter the hallowed halls of building 15 for the first time, it is hard not to get swept up by their wide-eyed enthusiasm and innocent optimism. Phrases such as “I’m definitely going to attend all the meetings of the Disney club” and “I don’t need to pre-read any lectures,” are often heard, phrases they may regret uttering so freely six months from now. However, it was not so long ago that many of us also opened a medical textbook, encountered a cadaver or calculated the exact time until an assignment could be re-submitted on Turnitin for the first time either.

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I Promise Myself: The Mental Health Contract

By Grace Scolyer

It’s been 16 months since I sat, tachycardic and sweating in a superclinic GP’s office, asking for a K-10 test and mental health treatment plan. 16 months since I was met with a suppressed laugh, obligatory printout, and subsequent arrangement of an urgent follow-up with another GP with more mental health experience. My exterior did not seem to fit up with my K-10 score; the difference between by 2pm brain and my 2am brain something quite concerning. High functioning, clinically depressed.

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