15 days

(Disclaimer: I’m only representative of a sole, average at best, med student.)


Neuro elective has officially ended. I recall being excited on the first day and in fact a few days before the elective. I dug out my black book and printed out senior’s notes (which I didn’t back in M3 cos I relied on the softcopy). Tried to study amidst the haze and persistent cough and some other appointments. Ok sounds damn drama but in short I did try to prepare la.

We were greeted by this SR who seemed really nice. Said he’ll create a whatsapp group with us so that we can all ask any questions. Er, didn’t materialize for whatever reason. The idea of this elective was to get rid of any neuro-phobia and help us revise.

I can’t say it was a complete flop because I did learn something everyday and sometimes it could just be things in senior’s notes that I never read or committed to memory.

I guess it’s just the way the hospital is and how the culture is here. I just never really felt like I fitted in. And I haven’t felt very inspired by the everyday events. It is highly likely because most of the patients warded are stroke patients, headache patients, neuro symptoms for investigations. Alot of treatment is symptomatic or preventive. If you’re looking for a quick sense of gratification, this doesnt seem like the place. Intellectual rigor is definitely present though.

Maybe many factors played a part. Small things like waiting around for things that don’t happen or don’t matter. And eventually… any budding interest in neuro kinda died. Sadly. And I feel even more sad thinking of when I told my friend I’m interested in neuro. For whatever reason. Though on the flipside it is absolutely not wrong to feel the opposite after the elective. That friend had his interest in cardio axed when doing cardio electives haha.

I honestly think, in retrospect, that for students these days who just touch and go so many IM specialties, alot of revision is needed. It’s still puzzling to me actually, what is that thing, me or this elective really needs to make me feel confident/optimistic about neuro.

The thought of asking a question and only being told that ‘oh you can read up’, doesn’t encourage me to ask more questions, honestly. I rather you throw me another question back cos you are trying to lead me to an answer. The thought of asking for a teaching for approach to xxx and being told, ‘I used to come up with my own approach and I change it everytime it doesn’t work. I mean I can teach you mine but you have to find one that works.’… but not really teaching an approach that everyone voted for…. just… I dont know what to say.

Today I felt pressured ++ when I stumbled at this slides teaching and I couldn’t diagnose this CN 3 palsy (it was a video of the EOM). I just couldn’t register… like eh one eye looks funny. This eye also.

I don’t know if it would have been better if I did the examination myself, because i can pause at any point of the H to compose myself. So the video was replayed 3 times… and i still couldn’t see it. Answered INO, one and a half. Denggg. Denggg.

Things that did not help:
– “You’ve seen it 3 times, you still want to see it again???”
– My shaky, raspy voice from the nerves?? + pathological throat.
– The “no one should whisper the answer cos the person in the hot spot will stop thinking” rule hence the room is dead silent.

Things that helped:
– Friend who whispered the answer from behind.

Exacerbating factors thereafter:
– Being pointed out for being not good at the hot seat, not seen enough patients, should practise more…
– ‘Volunteered’ and grilled for another bilateral hand wasting case.

It was just mega sian ji pua. Of course everyone else did ok. I am not finding fault for this today and the Dr meant well I suppose but just… really sian ji pua. I really didn’t like that the elective ended on such a note.

There are things and people I appreciated alot in the last 3 weeks. Dr Zhao, Dr Tan and Dr Yong for offering tips for mbbs and tutorials when they are not obliged to. Dr Priyankan for the very kind comments on the elective form today (the last day) which made me feel alot less shitty about myself. Dr Deidre… for being a sort of imposing but strong and admirable character, who occasionally turns over during tea to ask if we have any questions. And leaving me with interesting food for thought like, once doctors overinvestigate, they lose their clinical skills and judgement. And also that neurology pales so much in comparison to cardio in terms of the vascular (mechanical) intervention that can be done, but that also means there is alot to expand on in the future. The MOs who I only got to know better very much later. The very very kind patients who let us examine them endlessly. I hope to be of good service to you and any other patients in the future.

And a note to myself. You may falter and you may fall. Remember that the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. You are defined by who you are and not your circumstances.

I am quite positive I’ll find love in neuro and IM/medicine in general again. I just cannot let my inadequacies confuse me and make me think that I don’t want it cos I can’t do it. I can do much better than this.

On a side note, I can only function in pairs or small groups (like max 4 I think). Hence I’m still looking forward to the other electives haha.


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