Combining medical school and gymming

April 1, 2008 rooroo

I am a 3rd year medical student at a London medical school and I will be a doctor in just over 2 years, meeep! My timetable is mixed bag of ward rounds, clerking, outpatient clinics, theatre (not very often), teaching (even less often), presenting, nights on-take, falling asleep in the library and handwashing – lots of it. 

As a result of this, I have to ‘weave’ getting to the gym between this time. Sometimes I go very early in the morning, other times I will wait until I have a long enough gap to fit a session in. I don’t find this daunting in any way, in my experience, the hardest thing to do is getting time to eat. I remember the longest time I went without eating: 5 hours, 32 minutes. Yes, I counted. I was in theatre, watching an operation that overran. In the last few minutes while they were closing the lady up, all I could think about was the chicken/pasta salad in my bag and how I would stomp over everyone in the building just to get to it.

 Today I was in clinic with one of the registrars, and he kept apologising to me for wolfing down his tiny roll while he was trying to explain what the next patient was coming in for. I was having lunch with another registrar, when after only 2 bites of our respective lunches, we were called up to see a patient and give a cancer diagnosis. I’ve seen my consultant reach into a plastic bag on the floor and take swigs of smoothie before the next patient. It seems that this doesn’t get any easier the higher up you go!

I’ve mastered the art of sneaking things into my little handbag. In there, you’ll find my stethoscope, the ‘Cheese and Onion’, my notepad and pen, a small tube of Hand Relief, lip balm and a bag of nuts, a banana and some cheese. This is especially handy on night duty (a 12 hour shift in A&E) otherwise, the only alternative is the food in the doctor’s mess. Last time, I made the mistake of not bringing food with me and I was taken to the dank, gloomy room hidden away along one of the many windy corridors at the last hospital I was at. The food on offer included sugary cereals, economy brand chocolate spread (I’m sure the private doctors get Nutella), jams, coffee, tea and anything else designed to get me bouncing off the walls.

Don’t get me wrong, I was under no illusions, I had fully expected this to be the case. However, after being awake all night with no break, comforting patients who were upset or trying to avoid those who were abusive, failing to cannulate and almost spilling someone’s urine sample, I made a beeline for the sugar, I swore I heard my pancreas squeaking. 20 minutes later I was hyperactive enough for the registrar to let me go home early.

The next 2 years will be interesting, as I expect the work to get more and more intense. I live in a rented flat, and have no room to set up a home gym, so going to the gym is pretty much my only option. Medicine indeed takes up a significant portion of my time, but gym to me is like eating or having a shower – you make time to do it. And it keeps me sane.

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Entry Filed under: food, gym, med school

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