What (not) to ask a medic?
Facultas nostra 2021, 10 (October)
Every new medic knows that life changes after you start studying medicine. They will have to speak almost more in Latin than in Czech. They will have to learn to like white color. They will spend their pocket money for textbooks. They will find their gluteus maximus sore from all the sitting. There are many new realities to the life of a fresh medic. However, there is one thing you seldom think about before you start your studies – when people learn that you study medicine, they will ask a particular set of questions. These questions will be the same throughout your life from the day you start medicine. Should you make a tick for every time you are asked one of them, you could fill an entire book. Too bad there is no reward for every 50 ticks or something similar. Here are my top 10 questions people ask medics.
1. What kind of doctor would you like to be once you are finished?
This seems to be the go-to question for people to ask, regardless of whether it´s their first day or the day of their graduation. The answer is often different than people expect. Most medics can´t even say for sure they will be able to graduate, especially when changing their field of study is an easy way to get rid of much of the stress they experience. An easy answer is to say that you have always wished to be a pathologist – most people won´t ask any more questions after that.
2. You´re surely going to make a lot of many when you are done, right?
A great question showing the naivety of the inquirer. A good answer is that when the time they actually start to earn good money comes, they will most likely spend it for new teeth or a therapist…
3. My grandmother has this weird rash on her leg. Any idea what it could be?
Again, it doesn´t matter if it´s their first or last day of school. People just want a clear answer. The best tactic is to give them one. Nod your head in understanding, drop a few Latin words and advise the grandmother to see her physician. This way the medics can be at peace that their answer is actually a sound advice and that their medical pride remains undamaged.
4. My grandmother´s dog has this weird rash on his leg. Any idea what it could be?
Many people just can´t grasp the simple concept that a human doctor is entirely different from an animal doctor.
5. How does it feel to see dead people?
People can´t help themselves with this one. Many of them would be surprised that a more horrifying experience than the classes in the autopsy room are the exams that follow.
6. Have you cut through something important?
There is no Czech medical student who hasn´t heard this one already. Maybe they should air the movie, from which this question comes (“Jak básníci přicházejí o iluze”), less often…
7. Do you watch House MD?
Not that the story of Gregory House was not, sometimes, heart touching for most medics. It´s just that among all the work and drama they have in their lives there really is no time to add any more.
8. You “only” have two exams?
This one really makes medics mad. The fact that just those two exams are what they will spend their entire summer on drives home how daft this question is. Instagram profiles full of pictures of medics with their tables full of coffee mugs and empty energy drink cans prove that this is no easy undertaking. You can hardly call them “just” two exams when you know what it entails.
9. So, you´re a medic? I´m sure glad I´m not…
This question clearly shows how people see medics. For them they are a dead man walking, their social life nonexistent and their head aching from all the things they have to fit in. This doesn´t even fare well on dates. It can only help dating if the possible date has incorrect expectations regarding the question number 2.
10. Why do you always study so much? – or – Why aren´t you studying now?
Seemingly asking the opposites these two are the yin and yang of a medic´s life. It doesn´t matter how much you study. For someone it´s always too much and for others too little (this usually goes for the medic´s parents). It´s especially bad when medics themselves get stuck in pondering those very questions. There really is no one correct answer. There is no use in anything else than grabbing a textbook to help ease their conscience and getting to it, while “it” can actually mean using the textbook as a stand for a box of chocolates while watching another season of Grey´s Anatomy.
I hope that these questions help at least somewhat explain how being a medic feels like and please, when you meet a medic, try asking something else than those 10. Make them happy and ask what color their favorite socks are. If you add a box of chocolates into the mix, they may even tell you what kind of doctor they would like to be once they´re done…