A tremendous leap seems to occur at Tuks in the middle of 5th year, when one essentially begins their final year of medicine – only it is stretched over 18 months and referred to as the “Student Intern Complex”. Suddenly one gains a tremendous amount of confidence and knowledge as one’s training becomes purely practical, and the distance between students on that side of the mid-5th year chasm and starting SIC is colossal. Not only is it an enormous adjustment emotionally, it also changes some students mentally – making for an incredibly amusing show. Please note my sarcasm as I present the “SIC Starter Pack” which many 5th years bought into a few months ago:
- Start calling every patient “my dear”. Be as authoritatively condescending as possible.
- Start taking everything super seriously – so much as a smile during a ward-round is just not acceptable!
- Throw your colleagues under the bus – especially if it means you will get a higher mark than your friend. Only, you won’t.
- Phone your colleague if they aren’t in the ward 24/7 – taking a sandwich break with permission from the Doctor is surely going to make that Doctor convince all the Consultants to set an unfair test that will make 95% of the group – and every subsequent group for the next 15 years – fail. It’s science, people!
- As a final year student starting day 1 of the same rotation as your 5th year SIC counterpart, be sure to make them understand that you are superior to them. Failing to do so will just render you an inferior and incapable Doctor.
- Flaunt that SIC badge like the show-pony you are. Especially when you’re walking in the mall with your scrubs on.
- Judge anyone who decides to take a mental health day, or anyone who decides to leave before you. We all know that pushing yourself to the point of a break-down is a model example to our patients and loved ones of what it means to “put health first”!
Don’t get my scathing sarcasm wrong – it’s important to take things seriously at this stage, as our actions have a far more reaching effect than ever before. BUT… some people take things too far and show how absolute power corrupts absolutely. And not only is it a pathetic show of character, but it is also rushing a process of learning that places far too much pressure on oneself and everyone in the team.
I want to be a student for as long as possible. I’m not an intern yet, and I’m not being paid a cent for any work I do as a student. At this stage the liability really is not mine to own. So for now, I’m just going to laugh at the absurdity of some students around me, mull over what I actually have left to wear in those rotations that ban jeans, and try not to giggle anymore when I’m forced to consult with a patient regarding his genital rash.
“Laughter is the best medicine. Unless you have diarrhoea.”