Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Jobs, Application & Internships | My Journey from Highschool to Medical School

A few weeks ago when I stayed in my house back in my home city and felt super nostalgic while reading old diaries from a time before Medical School started for me, I came up with this idea to share my journey and experiences I had after graduating from high school till I'll received the desired acceptance email from my University. I've decided to write two posts, one including jobs and internships I had and the other one about my traveling, so this post is going to be about all my work experiences, medicine and non medicine related!

So let me start in the beginning:
I graduated in summer 2010 from Highschool when I was 18 years old. I planned to go to University, but I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to study. I loved sciences such as biology and physics, but I also had a great passion for art, literature and writing, so I was completely lost in choosing one direction. My parents always suggested me to go for medicine and although I was fascinated by the human body and used to read a lot of books about neuroscience, I wasn't 100% sure. 
I researched a lot online, read forums, spoke with friends and after two months I decided to do a volunteering social year in my home city, which meant that I joined a specific organisation who would allocate me to a social facility - such as a hospital, retirement home, private people with disabilities and kindergarten. 
After a few weeks I got a job in a hospital to work in the stroke district in a intensive care unit. At this time I had never worked before, so my excitement was beyond big. 
My job was all about patients care, including body care, having conversations with the patients, helping them to eat, practice with physiotherapists and creating a nice welcoming atmosphere. I also learned how to watch and measure vital signs, about different kind of disease pattern and also how to interact with different kind of people, from patients to nurses, doctors and family members.
During the weekends I had another job as well, which was working in another hospital, serving patients their lunch and dinner, so basically working in the hospitals kitchen. After a year my volunteering year was finished. I asked my supervisor back then if I could get a three weeks internship in the surgery field watching operations and I loved every day of it.

I honestly would highly recommend everybody who is considering studying medicine to gain some working experiences before starting studying. I learned so much about myself and my future field, gained a lot of new social skills and during this year I became sure that Medicine is the right field for me. It was a very rewarding experience and I wouldn't want to miss it.

As some of you know, it is super hard to get into Med School, specially this years where there are a lot of applicants and graduates. I applied in 2011 in six cities in Germany where I was born and raised, but I didn't got in any University, which wasn't surprising to me at all. I knew the situation very well by reading a lot about it online, the condition of admission is very grade dependent and I didn't had the grades I needed to get into Med school.
I decided to get more working experiences in the medical field, so I applied for a training position in a huge hospital at home, as an operation technical assistant, which basically meant to work next to surgeons being a instrument assistant. This training program meant that I had to work full time and after three years I'd be an trained assistant. I didn't had the intention to finish the whole training program though, I was interested in learning more about Medicine and have more practical skills. I made friends with a lot of cool people in my class, learned Anatomy and Physiology for the first time and got to see exciting operations every day. But there was also a down side. Working in a huge hospital for the first time and specially in surgery, I got to feel the hospital hierarchy system pretty hard and my younger self wasn't prepared for that in any ways. I'm absolutely thankful for this experience though, finding myself dealing pretty well with difficult personalities now.
A new year began. I was constantly reading about the development of the application system for Medicine, and although I got credits for my application because my volunteering year and my training program, I knew I wouldn't get into University.
So I began to think further and read about a lot of application systems in other countries in Europe, deciding that I would move country to study Medicine. During this time I read about an entrance test in Austria. You weren't treaded by your grades from high school, but your performance in an six to eight hours test including different intellectual parts. This test needed a lot of practice and a few weeks before I had to take the test, I made the decision to quite the training program and concentrating on the test. I found a new job in a completely new and non medicine related fiel, working in a chocolatier part time and was preparing for the test on my free hours. I really loved this job, because it was so different to the ones I had before.
I took the test in summer 2012 in Austria for the first time but I didn't got enough points to get in and
 applied in Germany too, as I did the year before, but there was still no hope.

Realizing that I had a new year to "fill" I got quite upset and I didn't felt in the right place and mind. I occasionally worked in a touristic job, but I wasn't feeling very well. I didn't feel to apply for an internship again and to be honest, I wanted to have a break from the hospital environment after working there for two years full time. I wanted to do something completely different for a few months, so I decided to move to Oxford for a couple of months to visit an english school, improving my really bad school english (anything Oxford and travel related will be in the next blogpost).
Moving back home, I got a really cool job in spring 2013, which included public speaking. This job is one of the most important for me and I still work there during summer break actually, it helped cracking my fear of performing and speaking with strangers, in public, and after a while I felt pretty confident with myself.
Back in this years, I never thought of not studying Medicine. I was pretty determined and I decided to try to get in until it would be finally reality. 
Another year passed and I didn't got any acceptance letter again, neither from Austria or Germany, so I continued working in my amazing job, saved a lot of money and traveled to the U.S. all by my self for three months, visiting 21 cities and one island. 
In 2014 I started to studied seriously for the entrance test for the Medical School in Vienna. I was still working about two to three days a week, but my main focus was the test. And finally, after four years, six jobs, two internships and months of traveling I got into University and my journey as a future doctor began.

I hope this post was in any way helpful for some of you. No matter how hard life gets and how many people try to put you off from following your dream, stick to it, do what is needed to get to the point you desire. 

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