Health and my JIA was a big concern with me when thinking about not just my course but all the other things that go with university.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, there are many things that I do find challenging about being a medical student whether this is long commutes to placement that usually simply add to already long days, keeping up with lectures and appointments, particularly when I don’t feel well. Yet these are things which can be overcome, often just with a bit of adaptation. For instance all of my placements are easily accessible directly by public transport which saves me from the two train and a 40 minute walk odyssey that my flatmate has to take.
There was support provided by the university, but I have not always found many of the formal forms of support to be very helpful. I have never reached out to the Med School Welfare after being coerced into a very unproductive meeting after the hospital stay in first year. I have talked with my advisor of studies who is lovely but often does not know what to suggest which isn’t always very solution focused.
I’ve found talking to my heads of year and facilitators far more helpful than any form of formal support as often, I find it is these people who can make your life a little easier. For instance, a really beneficial thing was my anatomy teacher arranging for a PhD student to meet with me once a week and go through all the parts I’d missed, something which was incredibly kind of them both and really helpful.
Equally I think that there are even some benefits to having JIA and being a medical student. For instance, I’ve found that students with disabilities are often far more able to relate to patients and their worries which can inform your practice and mean for a better patient experience. For instance, ‘fatigue’ is often glossed over in lectures as are ‘side effects’ however I’ve found that these are things which have an astronomical impact on my life, and patients lives which 100% influences how I communicate and deal with patients with such problems. I am biased but I think this is a huge positive and that we could do with more doctors with disabilities.
I really care about my course and I really enjoy it. I have never wanted health issues to be a barrier even though there are many aspects of it that I find challenging and health issues continue to influence my life. I would say though that there are very few obstacles for which a solution cannot be sought, and an adaptation cannot be made. I would not change what I am doing for the world.
Written by Beth, Your Rheum member