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MYTHBUSTERS: THIRD YEAR WARDS

When I was in first year, I remember telling my friends, “Third Year main maza ayega.”
When I was in second year, I remember telling my friends, “Third Year main maza ayega.”
When I was in third year, I remember my friends asking me, “Aaya maza?”


Third year was unpredictably predictable. You expect it to be a whole new experience and it is, but in ways you didn’t expect.


ARE YOU READY?

MYTH 1: SELECT MAJOR WARDS FIRST

This is the most popular myth that just cannot be dismissed even though people know it is only a myth. Major wards are Medicine and Surgery and are 8 weeks long as compared to Minors (everything else from ENT to Paeds to Chest Medicine) which are for 2 weeks. Now while people may tell you to go for major wards at first for many reasons, some of them may not be so valid.
Yes, you may want to get done with them in the beginning of the year if your work philosophy is Work first, party later.
Yes, you may do better in them, because let’s face it, everyone is always excited at the beginning of the year. (If only we could stay that motivated till prof. If only we could follow timetables. If only there was world peace.. yada yada yada)
Yes, you will get done with them in the winters, and this is a very good reason as, take my word for it, you do NOT want to go to Mayo in the summer heat because regardless of how beautiful that new umbrella is, the sun in Lahore shines much more cruelly than in any other part of the world. (It’s a fact. Challenge it and I’ll make you stand in the sun. So what is it going to be? Thought so.)



A frequent sight on the Mayo Hospital sarak.


But I personally find this fascination-bordering-on-obsession with majors a little overrated. Sure, it was annoying when all the major-now-minor people were chilling in the cafe while you dragged your sorry butt in the heat trying not to be late, but I was in a batch with all of my friends and it’s not all that bad when you’re all in it together. I had major wards in the end and I turned out just fine. Apart from the horns that I grew on my head. And the sixth toe on my left foot.

Besides...


MYTH 2: YOU DON’T GET SUMMER VACATIONS IF YOU HAVE MAJOR WARDS IN THE END

Okay, this does NOT happen. I don’t know why or who started it. It’s an evil rumour to spread. Vacations ka mazaak nahin hai! You will get winter, spring and summer vacations. In fact, the perk is that the vacation days are included in the 2 or 8 weeks of the ward so the actual ward days get shortened. So while Surgery was supposedly 8 weeks, we only attended 3 weeks. (Or was it 2? I can never tell, every day looked the same to me.) However, this perk may be a downside if you are one of Those people. But then again, if you are one of Those people, you are probably reading all your shiny new books instead of this blog post.

Stop. Reading. Your. Stupid. Books. And. Shower. My. Blog. With. Affection.


MYTH 3: EVENING WARDS ARE A MUST

The “evening” wards are actually from 1.30 to 2.30 and usually conducted by a few medicine wards, like South and East. They may seem harmless with their short duration and attractive idea of going to the hospital again as if for an afternoon round like real doctors, but they are devious little things. Just when you come out of the practicals, thinking of the chilled coke or the mouthwatering biryani-raita you will now devour, you realise that it is 1.30. 

"And here you can see, a medical student in his natural habitat, dragging his butt to an evening ward."

So, in a deja vu-like situation, you again walk towards the wards as you did two hours ago, and again stand in the same place, with a very tired house officer who hates you as much as you hate him.
Grumpy HO personified.


MYTH 4: NO PROXIES


Aw, man! Go read KemTip #92 . If thou seeks a proxy, a proxy thou shalt get. There are always exceptions, of course, like those wicked doctors who now write the number of students on the roll number lists. But, in most cases, if you have a top-notch Batch Rep, you will get your attendance marked. Now a good batch rep is someone who has contacts with house officers, seniors (because tomorrow they will be house officers) and the attendant with the register. Oh, and this goes without saying, you need to be on good terms with him too. Otherwise he has been known to strike out your roll number even when you are present, let alone mark your attendance when you’re not there. May we all be guarded against the wrath of the BR. Amen.
So miss those minors and go for nashta in Anarkali, explore Old Lahore or that new restaurant at M. M. Alam. There is way too much free time in third year, so put it to good use. Of course you can always stay in the university and people-watch, sharing the newest gossip you heard from a friend’s friend’s friend who read it on another friend’s friend’s Facebook. Good times, good times.
Do it in moderation though. Aim for a 75% and you might eventually get a 50% attendance. Good enough.

The face we make when a successful proxy has been marked.


MYTH 5: ALL THE DOCTORS ARE SUPER-FRIENDLY

And unicorns exist in the land where chocolate rivers flow from marshmallow hills.
One thing you will realise quickly in the wards is “Third year ki koi izzat nahin hai.” Sometimes I wondered if they’ll actually miss taking our lectures if we didn’t show up (Tried it, they didn’t.) In my first ward, I got shouted at by a really scary Professor in the Outdoor in front of all the patients. Why doesn’t the earth open up and swallow you whole when you want it to? (If you ever witnessed a lot of third year students running away from the lecture hall haphazardly in all directions, you’ll know who I am talking about.)

Some of them may even put Dr Cox to shame.

But of course, not all doctors are out to get you. Sometimes they are tired with all their overnight shifts, difficult cases and, let’s face it, teaching third year students who are pretty senseless to begin with, is never the highlight of their day. Some doctors are indeed very helpful and will not only repeat a certain method over and over again until you understand its basics but also make sure you perform it on a patient until you get it right. Much to the patient’s chagrin.


MYTH 6: YOU CAN GO TO THE WARDS LATE

Lots of differing opinions about this one because of lots of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. You go to the ward late and the PG will be halfway through the class. You go to the ward at 10.30 and no one will bother showing up for an hour. You decide to go late and sneak behind that really tall guy and everyone will part like the Red Sea, making you feel like a deer caught in the headlights. You decide to go on time and everyone else will come and sneak behind you successfully. Yes, it is unfair but so is life.
Leo understands your pain.
Besides, as a great professor once said...




MYTH 7: THE PATIENTS LOVE YOU

Don’t delude yourself with this one at all. Sitting in a public hospital bed with watery cafeteria food and grumpy nurses who poke needles into them many times a day, the last thing the patients need is being asked the same thing by different people multiple times a day. We have had patients from pretending to sleep the moment they saw us approaching them to asking us to go stand in a corner as far away from their bed as possible. Most of them are either willing or don’t have much of a choice (it’s not like they can get up and run away) and patiently reply to all the questions you have memorised from Bedside that you ask almost automatically without regards to their relevance to the actual diagnosis. It’s all a matter of chance. What you can do is not go to a bed from where you just saw two of your classmates leaving just because he seemed nice and replied to them. He won’t be nice and won’t reply a second time. Not all patients are patient. (Bow down to the queen of puns!)
Multiply this by 5 and you'll need to call a psych consult for the patient soon.





MYTH 8: ROCK THAT STETH, YO!


The first thing everyone buys for third year is a stethoscope, like the dissection box in first year. But unlike the latter, you don’t get to use the sacred steth much. I think I only used mine thrice in the medicine ward and that too to listen to my own breathing and heart rate. However, do keep it with you in case you are asked to listen to the patient’s. When that happens, all you need to do is yank out your sparkling new stethoscope, frown a bit and pretend to concentrate really hard. Then agree with whatever the doctor says.

“Can you hear the vesicular breathing?”
“Yes, sir.”
“First heart sound pta lag rahi hai?”
“Yes, sir. Bohat achi sunayi de rahi hai.”
But no, please don’t rock that steth while walking up and down zero point. Everyone around you knows you don’t really need it. Yes, even the bachiz know it. Besides it’s a privilege enjoyed by residents/house officers so leave it to them; they worked five years+ for it!





MYTH 9: WARDS ARE THE DEVIL’S SPAWN

I know with all the pleasantries I said above, it may look futile to even bother attending wards but they are an experience that you must have. You get to interact with a lot of doctors which helps when you bring in your father for a checkup and he realises how resourceful his son already is with all his contacts-shontacts. Once in a while a face might stick in the PG’s brain and he will be forgiving enough to pass you in the ward test just because you bothered showing up for the lectures. You do actually learn things like the different types of breath sounds, percussing the liver and spleen and checking different reflexes; they always come in handy when you’re trying to make an impression on your extended family.
Check out her amazing blog at A Cartoon Guide To Becoming A Doctor

I had to end on a positive note. So, go to wards. Wards are good. Wards are our friends. But once in a while you need to get away from these friends and roam around Lahore Fort with your real friends. Or twice in a while. Thrice? Don’t listen to me, you guys. I am such a bad influence.

The trick is to make this your life mantra.

DISCLAIMER: None of these images belong to me. I merely came across them while scrounging the depths of internet. And yes, I may have subconsciously manipulated this post into a Dr Cox shrine, sorrynotsorry.

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