“Priorities, people!! Priorities!!” he squawked…

December 8, 2014

Changed priorities aheadIf you ask my Mum what life was like with me as a teenager, one of the things she’ll likely mention was her critical role as the ‘No Police’ as she liked to call it. She spent a fair bit of time helping me to say ‘no’ to the plethora of opportunities I managed to drum up for myself… and mopping up the proverbial mess when I still managed to overcommit when she wasn’t looking.

I don’t think I’m alone in the fact that I’m more than minorly addicted to overcommitting myself and biting off more than I can chew.

And occasionally it all comes to a head and it’s time to prioritize.

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Better done than perfect! Studying in the gaps…

October 24, 2014

Oh, did the academic year start again already?! Yikes… I must have missed the memo… or it could have something to do with my mushy postpartum brain.

A week before the school year began again, our little boy made his entrance into the world and he’s now a month old.  We’re vaguely ‘emerging’ from that postpartum haze and hubby has been waiting on me hand and foot, becoming quite the Jamie Oliver, and being a total star champ A+ support.

I’ve spoken before on this blog about how much I appreciate the flexibility of the UoL programme, and that couldn’t be more so the case than now. Now that I’m a brand new Mum, with all the uncertainty that entails, to know that I can just chip away at whatever I can manage, and defer whatever I can’t, is a real relief!

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Gratitude for Leah, My Faithful Companion for Four Exams

June 20, 2014

LSHTM logoIt’s 4.37pm the day after I sat my fourth of six exams.  I’ve been studiously at work most of the day on my Health Services and Health Policy in anticipation of their exams dawning in about a week’s time.

I’m feeling like I’ve worked pretty hard (not just today, but over the last few weeks…as all those first year Public Healthers doing the core modules will appreciate…exam blast Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Monday…phew…).  Instead of covering another Policy chapter, I think I’ll write a blog post…since it’s overdue by my timetable and, I believe, still a productive use of my time.  🙂

One of the things that has made the exams immeasurably more bearable (apart from the protein bars I had special dispensation to bring into exams, as my pregnant belly could now be likened to a bowling ball), was to have a fellow student to ‘post-mortem’ with.

This is the first time I’ve sat exams like this where there was a possibility that I’d turn up on my own and have no one else to talk to about the exam after it finished.  Lo and behold (and gosh, I wish I’d known earlier!), I turn up to Basic Epidemiology last Monday and discover there is a lovely other young woman, Leah from Seattle, sitting the same exam.

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Facebookers Anonymous… is it time?

May 7, 2014

LSHTM logoOver this weekend I was musing to my husband about my days studying for my final exams at high school.  My high school years had prepared me reasonably well in terms of instilling study habits and an ability to just sit and concentrate, get away to a space that would ensure I wasn’t distracted etc.  I’m not sure how well I would have done at school were I studying these days. Between Facebook and emails… and having the screen right there (“Well, I need it for webinars and the rest…”)… it’s no wonder ‘young people these days’ (and older people… and well, loads of us, I suspect) struggle to concentrate like we used to.  With absolutely no solid evidence beyond anecdote to back up my claim (because I’m too lazy to go hunting for it right now!), I really do think my capacity to concentrate and put aside distractions is much more tested these days, and perhaps weaker than all those years ago when I ploughed my way through for those final exams.  Granted, back then I had a mother lovingly cooking me dinner each night (thanks Mum!) and I wasn’t growing a baby (more protein?! Already?! We just ate…) but I’m not sure that’s a the whole story when it comes to my relative self-discipline.

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Paradise lost, but a new journey beginning

April 30, 2014

LSHTM logoI remember our final year class trip to Thailand. My friend Mike and I were watching the sun come up over Koh Phangan from the sea, a tropical island paradise and home to the famous full moon party.

We were floating there in the early hours of the morning contemplating the weeks and years that had just gone by; the intense study, the hours of lectures and tutorials, the sheer number of patients we had seen and the histories we had taken. We had just finished our final year exams in medical school and we were passing the time to graduation and starting work as doctors.

We discussed how we had entered medical school with a naive impression that we could change the world around us. We agreed that we were probably amongst the best educated in the world. (We theorised because we were in that type of mood). But, we concurred that after six years; we were no wiser.

Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan

We lolled up and down on the rising water, staring back at this beautiful Thai island being ruined by westerners here to throw around some expendable income on alcobuckets and cheap thrills. Drunken us-sprawled on this hedonistic paradise-lost. The flashing lights and fire skipping ropes faded to the mooring sunrise.

As we floated up and down in the water Mike said something to me that I think about everyday: ‘We live in a world where 95% of a car’s energy goes into driving the car itself and not the person in it.’ Go figure. We live in a world obsessed with unsustainability.

I became very disillusioned over the course of my first year working as a doctor. I became saddened at the state of medicine: ordering unnecessary tests that were unlikely to change an outcome, working in hospitals that haemorrhage money, working in a healthcare system brought to it’s knees by big pharma, working with the lingering expression ‘we need to cover ourselves’. Once sensibility is lost in medicine care deviates from the patient.

I needed to leave this environment for a while. None of it seemed reasonable or patient centred. I decided to do a Masters in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and practice part time.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Vinnie is a doctor in his first year of the MSc Public Health, studying by distance learning. He is from Dublin, Ireland.

Here’s a mistake I prepared earlier…

April 15, 2014

LSHTM logoThe other night I was Skyping with my husband as he sat in Kabul and I sat back at home in Bangkok (did I mention, we moved? Yep…hello Bangkok).  I was telling him about a book that just arrived in the mail…a book called ‘Oh Baby! Birth, Babies and Motherhood, uncensored‘ (ah, did I also mention, I’m 16 weeks pregnant?! Yahoo! Yup, I’ll be the one looking like a beached whale on exam day…replete with snacks and special dispensation to have more toilet breaks than all the rest of you non-pregnant suckers, muahaha!)…and I leaned across the table to grab the book, knocking over my glass of water in the process.

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