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First steps into medicine

Hello hello, looks like there’s a new face to Peninsula Health blogging. I’m Claire McGannon and I’m a third year medical student who’s just finished her first week of the feared and revered clinical years. For many uni courses out there, third year seems to be the time where people really expect you to have your act together, to know what you’re doing and what you want to do, to be vastly knowledgeable… but I really feel like that’s not the case for us.

This week has been an exciting and terrifying experience of just being out of my depth. Nothing we were told in a lecture could have been able to prepare me for the difficulty of trying to find a corner to duck into while your whole Orthopaedics team fill up a patient’s room discussing their treatment plan for the day. I have felt like (and disconcertingly been referred to as) a baby several times, and I honestly do feel that way. I’m just finding my feet and learning how to confidently talk to people – whether it be patients, surgeons whose operations I’m observing, nurses, physiotherapists, sometimes even my peers when they’re particularly impressive!

I’ve never blogged at all before, so I’ve been asking for advice on what I should write about. The general answer is “just all the things you see and do”, but since I’m utterly confused about what I’ve been doing and what I should have been doing, I may as well give a bit of background about me. I’m getting up to the halfway mark in a 5-year course that I think I always knew I wanted to do. Since I was in primary school, I’ve been pretty determined that medicine was the career for me, and I wandered generally in that direction during my teenage years.

I finished Year Twelve and dove straight into uni, worried from stories I’d heard from past students that I would lose my momentum if I took a gap year (now I wish I could take that gap year every other week). Pre-clinical was a lot of packing textbooks into your head, with a healthy dose of thinking outside the box and learning practical skills. I’m lucky enough to be sharing rotations with friends from the past two years, and I’m looking forward to being pretend-doctors with them – they’re just brilliant.

Here’s a few things that might help you point the Peninsula Health medical students out for our first few weeks:

  • We are perpetually lost. When we think we’re not, we’re most likely on the wrong floor.
  • We are (or should be) wearing violently bright orange lanyards. This is so no one mistakes us for someone that knows what they’re doing and asks us to do something that we’d mess up.
  • We might look just a tiny bit anxious. Perhaps we’re thinking about the notes we’ll have to type up later that we’ve written in illegible shorthand, or whether the next tute was on the 2nd or 5th floor (or two hours ago).
  • We’re probably following a bunch of people who look far more self-assured and well dressed than we do. There might be a faint, hopeful gleam of “One day, that will be me!” in our eyes.

So if you see us, give us a smile; we’re all very friendly and would love all the help you could give us, whether that’s having a chat about why you’re here, watching something you’re doing, or just getting some general advice. We’re moving between departments (and even hospitals) regularly, so I’m actually with the Plastics team next week. Whenever I’m moved out to another hospital for a few weeks, I’ll be sure to ask someone lovely to fill my place. I hope you’re having a wonderful February, and I’ll be back to ramble here soon!


  1. Great to see blogs from Med students. This new experience of feeling anxious and a bit lost in a bit hospital is a really precious one – hang on to it. In years to come tap into the feeling it will help you really connect with patients – anxious, a little lost and hoping things will be ok.
    All the very best with your studies.
    Now don’t forget to make a pledge for http://www.changeday.com.au
    kindest regards

    • jhumphreys@phcn.vic.gov.au Mar 18 2014

      Thank you Mary, it’s relieving to hear that you think it could be a positive experience for my career to be feeling out of my depth – it only feels like a nuisance right now! I’m scrolling through the pledges now, thanks for drawing my attention to this. Claire

  2. So keen to see a med student blogger in residence! Hey Claire!

  3. i’m a 51 y/o personal trainer working with dis abled,elderly assissting and learning from a fitness therapis.it’s the same for every-one.I still take a step back to take in something i havn’t seen befor& if i’m in doubt i always ask questions of the therapists or consult with them when need be. Good Luck.Enjoyed your blog.

  4. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will come back someday. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job, have a nice day!

  5. Greg Mirt, PgDip Dec 13 2016

    Very nice story.

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