You still never graduate? – Delay in Med School

It is your first Sunday morning after retiring home from med school after a hectic academic session. You’re up early because you can barely contain the excitement of the long-desired respite and the freedom that comes with home.

When it clocks 7 am, you hurriedly freshen up and wear your Sunday best. Clothes and shoes you have not sported in more than seven months. Everyone pretends to be oblivious but they know what is up. You have missed the ambiance of the church, your friends in the neighborhood, and the routine elaborate family hangouts that ensue after service.

But you know it’s more than that.

You are not spraying your most exotic perfume for just your guys.

Why would you go through all that stress for those primitives?

It is 8 am and in no time, you find yourself in the church. The church is fuller than usual. A lot of people just got back from school too. You cast a cursory glance all over the place and lock in on your target. She’s dressed in an enchanting black gown with her silky hair styled in the most beautiful braids you’ve seen. You call out and she answers gleefully. However, before you close in, another lady takes the space next to her. Disappointed, you have no choice but to sit in the only available space five seats away. Beside Mrs. Yahaya, the nosy, loquacious neighbor who lives three houses away.

It’s going to be a long service.

You have barely listened through five minutes of Sunday School when she hits you for the third holiday running with the question you dread the most.

“Tóbi, you still never graduate?”

It is a given that Med school is a time-intensive educational program and the longest-running program of all the undergraduate courses. It is not without good reason. There is just so much to learn. So much to stash in your head. Even with the current duration, every academic year still feels like being force-fed and stuffed for months on end.

Well, there are whispers about a possible extension so that work can be spread out evenly to lessen the burden on students. I doubt that many would want that.

For many, the reality of this longevity often begins to hit when they are just halfway through and they begin to see their roommates and age mates graduate in their numbers.

The first wave hits them when they are helpless under Pathology’s and Pharmacology’s chokehold.

You wonder about the things you’d give to swap with them. To escape the bludgeoning of the two evils you just cannot shake off your hindquarters.

And just when you are crawling out into the darkness of the fourth year and the light of the fifth year, trying to enjoy the moment and the troubles – well, you are more or less a masochist now – the next wave comes.

It is a little less troubling. Or maybe you have just begun to grow numb.

And the next after it comes.You become the peerless senior undergrads on campus.

A title you hold till you graduate.

And this is assuming all goes well. Which is very unlikely in the dystopia we live in. There is no end to the list of things that can punctuate your academic program, impede it for months on end, or even ruin it altogether.

One time, it is disgruntled workers clamoring for salary increase. On another occasion, it is butthurt students throwing a dramatic fit over situations that could have been resolved diplomatically. On some really weird days, the most unexpected rituals and superstitious beliefs could affect school activities in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

If you are on a run of bad luck, Mother Nature might decide to sprinkle in an epidemic or two to upset the ecosystem – and if she is really in a foul mood, hurl in a pandemic.

While we are at it, let us not forget the biggest culprit of all.

The Government.

Insecurity, unbearable inflation, and other markers of bad governance could put a stop to the flow of school at any time.

All these culminate in addition of at least one year to the stipulated six years, such that the average medical student in a federal university spends at least seven years in school.

Eight on average, actually.

What are the implications of this delay?

First off, it is as depressing as they come. The very thought of wasting away in school while your peers are out there blazing trails and forging futures for themselves can be frustrating.

People are out there meeting new people and moving on to the next phases of their lives while you are stuck in med school, head barely above water, and at the mercy of lecturers and consultants – clinching 50s and 60s with gritted teeth and rolled-up sleeves.

But you can forge a future for yourself while at school, you say.

Well, you are not wrong. It is very possible, yes.

However, the confines of school are undeniable and they can be very significant for many. Multitasking isn’t always a success. Divided attention often births mediocrity. Except you are some lucky freak of nature, dividing your attention rids you of being able to put in your absolute best in your endeavors.

Another problem is that the undue breaks and interruptions deaden your drive as the years go by. Ideally, a continuum keeps you fired up and your drive at a high as you progress through med school.

However, the breaks deflate your drive and they open you up to distractions. Some are legit. Some others, not quite.

You begin to shift your gaze to other things.

You begin to consider other options.

It takes you longer to get your engines revving when you can get back into the grind after resumption.

God forbid a long break happens just before exams. That is impending doom if you let down your guard.

Perhaps the most annoying of all is the constant, pesky remarks from people. The frowns and raised eyebrows if you are quick to pick on body language. Your relatives begin to ask about your academic welfare ceaselessly. The more daring ones are more confrontational with their questions.

“Did you repeat?”

“Why is it taking you so long?”

Your mates have graduated oh. Tolu will do his wedding next month. Why are you still in med school? Part 4 since 2021?”

It gets worse when nosy strangers join in on the discussion.

Particularly when they are folks who ideally should not be meddling in your matters.

If you have a couple of Mrs. Yahayas on your neck, you are in for it.

There is no end. At home, in church, and even in other public spaces and events.

The only escape is often reclusiveness.

What then to do?

Remind yourself why you started.

Very often.

It cements your convictions and keeps you rooted when upsetting gales beckon. Keeps your drive firing on all cylinders too!

Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that breaks do not always have to be about books all the time though.

If you get breaks, it really might be another opportunity for self-development, not necessarily in medicine.

Especially when you realize that medicine and med school stuff is not all you want out of life. In other words, considering other options is not a bad idea.

However, you might just have to count the costs and properly assess your options before you lock in.

School may be a confine of sorts but it is still the best place to figure things out. You have the luxury of time and a glut of opportunities to go with.

Why? When one gets out, it is not usually as simple. More often than not, there are fewer opportunities.

Finally, everyone has a different blueprint for their lives. It is up to them to figure it out. And go with the flow.

Undue comparison is more often than not, a joy-stealer. It eats away at your self-esteem, and when there is nothing left of it, your soul.

In the end, it is not how long that counts in med school. It is how well. Delay is after all, not denial.

Take your time. Do your best.

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