Before coming to Bulgaria to study Medicine I was fairly certain that I knew what to expect from the medical course. In hindsight, there is so much more that you take away from your course than you expect that you will! Here are five lessons that I have learnt.
- Your body is surprisingly resilient – Perhaps I was naive, but prior to studying medicine I was convinced that after a few years, around 2 or 3 of a consistently poor diet would result in serious health problems. Whether we are talking about a diet composed mostly of fat laden fast food or a diet lacking in most essential nutrients. However, I was wrong. Our bodies, are made up of a number of intricate systems which work together to counteract any abnormalities and keep us working as seamlessly as possible, for as long as possible. This is not to say that we should abuse our bodies by any means.
- You can never know it all – Another assumption I was quick to make was that upon graduating from medical school I would be full of all the answers. Ask me any medical question, about a child, adult, elderly patient, about their heart, lungs, kidneys, or absolutely anything else and I would be able to give it to you – just like that. Oh boy was I wrong! The reality is very different to this, as with any profession you’re always learning, medicine is constantly evolving and so are our patients, every case is unique and so is the answer.
- The natural solution is always better than the artificial approach – It is easy to believe that if your ill, perhaps a slight flu, toothache, period pain you should take a quick Paracetamol and be done with it. I was also guilty of this! It is only now that I realise that if we just brave it out this is the better solution, but why? This is because by using these chemicals we are weakening our immune systems, instead of letting it deal with it, which is its primary function, we throw artificial pills into the loop. Many of the drugs we take have side effects which we may not even realise, but in the long term can be harmful to our bodies, therefore it is best to avoid using drugs unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Doctors are humans too – All to often we visit our Doctors with the belief that they will have us better in no time. It is crucial however to remember that beyond the scrubs and stethoscope is just a human, like me and you. Ultimately, they are not perfect, and despite their best efforts they too can make mistakes. This is not because they do not care, but often because hospitals are understaffed and the doctors who are working are sleep-deprived and over worked. So instead of losing your cool, which I have seen multiple times, please stop and think.
- Don’t be embarrassed to seek help – We sometimes stop ourselves from getting the help that we need by convincing ourselves that we will look ridiculous if we go to our doctors with this or that problem. This is a mistake. Often, those who come forward are quite right to, they are able to get themselves that they require at a much earlier stage saving themselves from a much more complicated and severe form of illness. Another thing is that doctors meet all kinds of people, all kinds of cases with all sorts of weird and unique symptoms – so never feel too embarrassed visit your doctor!