Ninety-five hours after the last ‘pens down’ and the annual season of sleeplessness and self-flagellation is almost behind me. Not that I’m still sleepless and whipping myself – I just think it would be premature to declare the season closed before the release of results.
Unlike previous seasons, I’m not actually sweating on results. My performance was not without flaws (OSCE Eye Examination: Please let me forget you) but for the first time in the history of me and medicine, I feel reasonably confident that what I did was enough to pass.
There is a little voice in my head which wonders whether this is a delusion, but it can shut the hell up, I’m having a holiday.
For the sake of my future patients, naturally I would like to do more than just enough to pass. This desire represents the start of the annual season of trying to do things a little better than before. Past experience suggests that no matter how much time I spend now trying to organise myself into having notes that look more like the notes people might want to share with other people, by the second or third week of semester I will have a plastic bag full of loose sheets of scribble and seventeen unsaved word files on my desktop.
See? I told you the season of self-flagellation wasn’t quite over.
On the flipside of all of this: I am getting a much clearer idea of what works for me in terms of learning medicine, and I’m not a total doofus. While there may be only one more set of exams between me and graduation, I still have to qualify as a fellow of some kind of college – which means more exams. I’ve concluded I need to shift my strategy from the current ‘don’t freak out’ to something a little more constructive, like… ‘keep reading and trust what you know’. And maybe try to reduce the number of notepads I write notes on from double to single figures.
Despite the horrible stress of the lead-up, when they finally arrived I have to confess that I actually enjoyed the exams. I don’t know whether this was because of the immediacy of the challenge, the catharsis of releasing all my bottled-up knowledge, the sheer relief of working my way through them and having them behind me or some other mysterious factor. I hope that this time next year the memory of having enjoyed them will be stronger than the fear of failure and I will be able to prepare for exam season with a sense of anticipation and joy rather than dread.