By IVAN SHEN
To the class of 2025,
I write this letter to you to first congratulate all of you for finally fulfilling your dream. Strangely, while getting into medicine can feel somewhat like the finish line, it really is the opposite; it is the start of a journey which brings with it new challenges, of course, but also new opportunities, experiences and perspectives.
I’m sure many of you have heard from people that the hardest part of medicine is getting into medicine, and I am here to tell you that they are exactly right. Therefore, take this opportunity to mingle with the med cohort and uni community in general because I promise you, the more you put into spending time with this cohort, the more you will get out of uni life.
However, if most of you are like me, you’ve probably also begun uni with some apprehension or even fear. Do not panic. Medical students are always scared of something. They’re scared of failing assessments, scared of forgetting their lab coats for anatomy practicals or scared because they are in a new environment, with a new cohort meeting new people, all with crippling social anxiety.
But don’t let your fear stop you from taking action. The med cohort is small, with around 250 in Kensington and 30 up in Port Macquarie. What separates Medicine from any other degree is because of this small cohort, it gives us the wonderful opportunity to form a tight community. And what a fantastically diverse community it is! Whether you are a high school leaver, a gap year taker, international or rural, among the cohort you’ll find geniuses, procrastinators, musicians, a surprisingly large amount of people who go bouldering, philosophers, tech-whizzes, backpackers etc.
The list goes on and on, because even though we are united in our goal to help people, fundamentally as human beings we come from different backgrounds with different life stories and have taken different paths to be able to enter Wallace Wurth as medical students.
And so, I’d like to present a different perspective on fear. For want of a better analogy, entering medicine as a first year is a lot like Year 7 of high school. You don’t really have a clue of what’s going on, you’re constantly making mistakes and why are there so many people that you don’t know? But it’s all going to be okay, because at the end of those 6 years of high school you had somewhat figured it out: you forged some meaningful relationships, you learned from the mistakes you made when you were a silly 13 year old and you almost got your life together.
So, now I want you guys to approach first year as silly first years and embark on your new uni journey with a little wisdom from my first year of uni life. I want you to live with F.E.A.R.
F stands for Find. Find opportunities to make new friends; your lifelong med buddy could be among them. Find new hobbies and rediscover old ones by joining societies and going to events. Find out the best way for you to study; experiment with different methods now (reminder that Foundies doesn’t count!) so you will have a system in place for the rest of the year. Find out how to navigate through the 6 years of this degree in a way that will balance your academia with your social and personal life. Find out how you will find the most happiness out of your university life.
E stands for Experience. Experience life on campus and don’t feel obligated to forever be chained to this small rectangle filled by Wallace Wurth and BABS. Experience everything at Medcamp and for that one weekend, don’t be afraid to live in the moment and only for the present (although I genuinely hope an ambulance is not required again). Experience that one tutorial in BGDA where you will have an open discussion on coitus interruptus and how it only has a perfect use rate of 4%. Experience going to hospital and talking to a patient for the first time, where you will inevitably struggle as you realise actual human beings rarely give the ideal responses you planned for in your head.
A stands for Aspire. Aspire to improve yourself everyday and constantly self-reflect, as we should all do as reflective practitioners. Aspire to one day finish your assignment TWO days before the deadline rather than one day before. Aspire to one day have the courage to say at least one word in ethics tutorials. Aspire to actually watch all of your lectures before the end of the teaching period (because attending all of them has been mathematically proven to be impossible and even less likely if you live on campus). Aspire to help others in times of need, because this degree is not a cutthroat competition, but rather a marathon where we help everyone across the finish line no matter how bleak it may seem.
R stands for Remember. Remember the first time you step into your SG, awkward and nervous as you sit in a room full of unfamiliar people. Remember how your friend drank and drank until he ended the night in a hospital bed, only to come back the next day nonchalantly as if he were not some sort of superhero resurrected. Remember the exhilaration after your first EOC is over, prompting you to also forget the question you had to memorise for the memorandum.
Remember that first lecture you attended on the very first day of your medical degree. Because this is only the start. And it’s going to be a long and wild ride.