By Mariam Tahir
Medical school is the beginning of quite a journey. One does many things in their bid to be accepted: from volunteering at Care Homes, spending summers of work experience on various wards to Model United Nations. And once the offer letter arrives, it is a whirlwind of hard work and prayers to get the grades.
Following all this, I, along with 6,000 other students, embarked on this exhilarating (most of the time) journey. It was quite a change, going from A-levels where everything was spoon fed or easily found in a CGP textbook to the world of Medicine where there is a lot, and I mean mountains, of literature and resources, on every topic. With anatomy, PBL and lectures to worry about, I found myself getting lost and engaging less in the other activities I had loved to do prior to medical school.
So, it was as first year was coming to a close, I sat down and reflected on what I wanted to do differently for 2nd year. And one thing I knew for sure was that I needed to get involved in something that wasn’t about medicine or academia. One of the options was getting involved in societies. Every university has many, many societies; weird and wacky ones or more tame, academic ones; there is a society for everything (and if there isn’t, start one!) So, I decided, on a whim, to apply to join the committee of the Islamic Society (ISOC), a big and busy society catering to the many Muslims students on campus and something different from anything I had done before.
As I started 2nd year, the workload increased a little and there was more content compared to 1st year, but I found myself handling it a lot better, and the reason for this was that my life was no longer all about medicine. Whilst my love for medicine was still going strong, it was no longer taking up my life. I had started going to more society events, as well as helping to organise them. I was able to be a part of a month-long Charity Campaign to raise money supporting Maternal Healthcare in Bangladesh, one of the most spiritually rewarding things I have ever done.
ISOC was a productive use of my time that enabled me to develop skills that had been neglected for a while: time management, team work, communication- all skills that I developed from being involved in ISOC. They are probably reminding you of your personal statements, where these were skills you mentioned important for any multi-disciplinary team (MDT). My year on ISOC was invaluable to my growth as an individual and offered a welcome relief from my studies at times. Not only was I able to develop myself, I met some amazing people who inspired me to be better, think outside the box and give back to my community.
We all know that the journey through medical school leads to foundation years where we will, inevitably, become a lot busier. Our careers as junior doctors come with the promise of awkward work hours, emotional stress and a lot of responsibility. So now is when we have the most time on our hands to try everything and get involved in all the ample opportunities we are surrounded by. Learn a new skill, join a society, try something new, and do it now, not tomorrow, not next year!