Med school can be really tough sometimes, and it’s easy to feel completely alone. And often, we know when our colleagues are having a bad day, and perhaps we’re not comfortable asking them if they’re okay or if they want to talk.
But it’s really important to create a sense of community in med school. No one quite knows the struggle of anatomy and placement and patients as well as we do.
These are the little things colleagues have done for me when I’ve been down. These are the things I remember and honestly, these are the reasons I haven’t quit med school. Small actions make all the difference.
- Shout your friend coffee. Nothing says ‘I’m here for you’ quite like a cup of caffeine. And, of course, it gives you an excuse to chat and be there for a struggling colleague.
- Bad jokes. And I mean really, really bad jokes. Example: Have you heard about the movie Intussusception? It’s about a bowel within a bowel within a bowel.
- Text messages and instant messaging. They don’t have to be deep and meaningful. I spent half an hour arguing with a colleague this evening. The topic? What will happen if I’m a student and he’s my intern. (Apparently, I’m working every day and I only get ten minutes for lunch. This is how we show affection.)
- Respect. If you’re assigned to present a topic in a tute, actually do the work. There’s nothing more insulting than creating good notes for your colleagues, while they have no intention of reciprocating.
- Birthday cake. They don’t take long to make (you can use the baking time as study time!), and a round of ‘happy birthday’ can brighten anyone’s day. And there’s sugar involved.
- Acknowledge their existence. We can’t know everyone in med school really well. But if you recognise them, say hi. Ask them how they are and how they’re finding the course. A quick discussion might brighten their day.
- Share resources. After you graduate, no one will care what marks you got or if you were valedictorian (except maybe your grandkids). So, if you stumble across a great website or textbook, let your colleagues know.
- Smile. Smiles are universal, and contagious. Hospitals can be sad places, so cheer is always welcome. And it makes you seem friendly and approachable, and interpersonal skills are what will make you a good doctor. Not your ability to name the branches of the brachial plexus.
Your challenge: do one nice thing for a colleague tomorrow. Even if it’s just waving at the in the corridor.
Let’s change the culture of medicine. Let’s start a revolution and foster a sense of community.