Some basic taxonomy


Exams are back. Or, we’re back at exams. There are a few distinct species of medical student who emerge at this time of year. Here’s your handy guide to recognising them:

The super-competitive one.

Says: “I was in the library ’til 1am last night, then my housemates and I went through all the Parkinson’s plus syndromes before practicing the hip, knee and elbow examinations. Do you know the chemotherapy regimens for myeloma? They’re easy, I did them this morning.”

Found: on the ward or in the common room, discussing rare syndromes with other members of same species. Usually wears shirt, ID badge, stethoscope and smug smile.

The self-depreciating panicker.

Says: “Oh my god, I’m definitely going to fail. I spent all of yesterday looking at cardiology and I can’t remember ANYTHING!”

Found: in the library, semi-visible behind huge pile of books, notes, highlighters and can of energy drink. Wears stressed expression.

The overly nonchalant one.

Says: “Oh yah, whatever, I never do that much revision. I was playing rugby/trampolining/running a half marathon yesterday. I got 82% last year though.”

Found: having a coffee and chatting loudly at table next to self-depreciating panicker.

Note: no matter which species you identify with, or even if – god forbid – you think you’re normal, it is never ok to adopt either an a) non-competitive or b) contented demeanour. Think revision sucks but you’ll probably be ok? Nope, no way. It’s just not said.

Me? Well, I’ve clearly developed a fetish for post-it notes and have pink and green spots swimming in front of my eyes. Now, what’s that syndrome called again?



9 thoughts on “Some basic taxonomy

  1. This is so very true.
    Also, I adore your post-it notes. When I was in med school, I had a couple friends who along with me were all obsessed with post-its. We once had an entire lab room donned in various post-its (ourselves inclusive) while studying for neuroanatomy. I wish I had photographic evidence.

  2. What about that one that claims not to study at all, then answers ALL the questions correctly on ward rounds, does really well in exams, and their housemate confides in you that they secretly study ALL THE TIME. We have some of those.

  3. I remember all that, staying up so late and panicking. I never used sticky notes in the early days but those little cards that came with plastic boxes from WHSmith or mind maps on A4 sheets of paper. Those were the days…

    The last exams I completed were the member ship exams – studying was a luxury completed at work and in between shifts, on tube, anywhere I could standstill. Really appreciated then, all the time I had available as a medical student!

    • 🙂 You made me realise how lucky I am to have to time to study – thank you! Even though it’s quite hellish at the time, I can’t imagine doing it after a long day at work.

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