INTERVIEW BY RICHARD BUCKLEY AND SUSANNA MO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUSANNA MO
How did you spend your first pay packet?
I wanted to spend it on paying off debts and I came probably one click away from buying a drone but then didn’t, and instead paid to get my bike serviced.
There’s this one that’s a legitimate plane that’s like jet propelled which was down to $500 from $1300. I was very very close, probably a good thing I didn’t!
How does it feel to be out of med school?
Feels great! It’s a weird feeling, nothing much has changed. I feel like if anything I probably know less than what I did at the end of third year, start of fourth year. But there’s a lot that just comes with the confidence and sort of knowing you can just walk into a room and just say, “Hi, I’m your doctor.” There’s something a bit more to it than just going, “Hi, I’m Dan, I’m a fourth year medical student, could I take your history and perform a few examinations?” Yeah, I think that’s the biggest change.
What do you wish you knew when you were in MD1?
There are things you learn in MD1 that are in no way a reflection of you being a good doctor or not, and are in no way necessary as a doctor to know. So just remember there’s a lot of superfluous stuff you learn and if you don’t know it all, and are not smashing grades like you used to, it doesn’t mean you’re a worse doctor than the person sitting next to you.
“So just remember there’s a lot of superfluous stuff you learn and if you don’t know it all, and are not smashing grades like you used to, it doesn’t mean you’re a worse doctor than the person sitting next to you.”
Do you have a particular speaker that you remember from MDSC?
My favourite was probably Maithri Goonetilleke, he was in 2016 I think. He was the opening speaker on Day 1 and he does a lot of charity work dealing with HIV in Africa, and I was lucky enough to be able to chat with him before he spoke as well, just in the wings. He was such a down to earth guy even though he’s one of those people you look at being like: “I hate you, you’ve done so much, how are you so successful but still a nice person?!” So that was really cool to see a speaker not from behind a pedestal, but to just chat with them.
I always liked the plastering workshops because I’ve still only ever plastered two patients in real life, so I’ve done more plastering at MDSC than I have in my entire medical career! So that was always useful. The puppy therapy session was also pretty incredible because puppies! Obviously.
Could you tell us a bit about your MDRP?
My MDRP was with the trauma team at the Royal Children’s Hospital and it was looking at setting up guidelines to determine which trauma patients do or don’t need an abdominal CT because obviously kids, exposure to radiation, malignancy later on in life, not good. So I think the biggest thing for me was that I picked a project I was interested in, and I sort of hunted for it.
So very early on in MD3, we got a lecture from a trauma surgeon, my supervisor, and I pretty much chased him out of the lecture theatre and just said “Hi I’m Dan, I’m a third year medical student, I have to do a research project next year, I’m interested in trauma and paediatrics, would you happen to have anything?” And he said “Oh okay, email me.” So I emailed him, he didn’t respond for two weeks, so I emailed him again, didn’t respond for two weeks… So I went to his office and harassed him until he knew who I was I guess, which is a nice way to put it probably.
Because it was something I was interested in, I was happy to do reading about it before I started. Going into it, I already had a decent idea of the background research, which also really helps. Mostly, it’s about doing something you can see yourself doing for 6 months, like if you absolutely hate immunology and you pick some immunology research project, what do you think’s gonna happen? You’re gonna have a trash time. And also because it was quite an easy topic to talk about so whenever I had to explain it to someone I never had to go into nitty gritty details, that were like, “We looked at children who had this sort of trauma and this,” it was sort of just “paediatric trauma patients”. You just summed up your research in one sentence, which is actually really useful.
“I always liked the plastering workshops because I’ve still only ever plastered two patients in real life, so I’ve done more plastering at MDSC than I have in my entire medical career! So that was always useful.”
What are some other tips when you were actually doing the research?
I guess time management, because I had a pretty decent idea what my numbers would look like and so I could divvy out week by week how many I needed to do. But of course it’s research, I’d never done it before. so almost three weeks in I had issues rising up, I had to go back and redo things – just expect things to go wrong! Research never ever goes right! Don’t hope things will go poorly but just expect them to, and be ready to maybe adapt to the situation as it arises.
Otherwise, having people you can talk to and actually checkpoint your research with outside of supervisors is really useful. So I had a group of people who were all with the surgical team at the kids. That was really good because every two weeks one of us would present what we were up to, what we had been doing and so if someone jumped in and said, “Hey, why haven’t you done this?” or, “Why didn’t you think about this?”, you could go, “Oh s***,” or, “We’ve thought about that. Stop.”
We know you were heavily involved in theatre during your time in med school, still doing anything theatrical?
Apart from the odd visit to Jankara karaoke, not so much! I’ve just come off six weeks of nights which isn’t particularly conducive to having any sort of social life, so I might look at picking some things up maybe later on in the year once I’ve settled in a bit more to intern life.