When people talk about the difference between the higher education courses of medicine and biomedical science, their conclusions are usually this:
‘Oh yeah, biomed is just medicine without the patients’.
Which I suppose is probably true, having not studied biomed but knowing several people who do.
But come again, it’s not. There must be a solid reason why biomed graduates aren’t always satisfied with their degree, and jump on the medicine boat as post-graduates.
I think it’s down to a fundamental difference between the pair – the presence of patients.
Because when I reflect on my first two years, and the current sludge of my third year, the distinct difference is in the presence of patient contact. Talking to people. Being more human. Empathy.
Therefore medicine is similar to, yet a world apart from biomedical science. Despite the similarities in scientific core content, MBBS3 unravels a whole new syllabus to be added to the already dense curriculum.
A syllabus of human webs of emotions, roller-coaster psychology, spiked relationships, cemented by smaller facets that make up a person’s identity. People you don’t know, but who cry like close friends.
When looking at a problem, the biochemistry or pathophysiology is just one aspect of it. One minute aspect of it.
When really looking at their problem, the pathophysiology extends beyond the disease process into the patient’s (person’s) history, their childhood, their job, their mortgage, their spouse.
Because when I reflect upon my first two years, and the current sludge of my third year, I realise that I found it easier when simply dealing with the 2-dimensional physiology, anatomy and biochemistry that floated onto my paper.
I found myself lost in phase 3, when 2 dimensions were stretched to 3 or perhaps 5, with the introduction of patients, people, laden with their hidden baggage.
I partially reflected upon this in my ‘Precipitous Stumble into Phase 3’, but it was only that, partial. The problem dawned on me again now I’m in the midst of a Pathology and Therapeutics block, that closely resembles the intensity of MBBS1 & 2. I’m good at learning things. I’m good at assimilating information, and I’m good at applying it. The only catch is that when there is a person involved, it becomes a whole new ball game.
Medicine is deeply human. The concept of helping another is human. Understanding and support despite origin or circumstance is utterly human. So human that doctors themselves break down when emotions tide over internal barriers.
Why is my third year sludge? Because I haven’t yet mastered the ability to really be everything human about medicine.
Be A People-Person