We’re fearless. A lecturer who doesn’t have the pathogenesis of a disease to hand will be reprimanded. Lecturers and behavioural psychologists can no longer use hackneyed conversation techniques, and they know it. Instead they ask: how would you do this? And they’re rapt with attention as we deftly and creatively worm our way through difficult situations.

We’re ready. Over the past two years, we’ve learned the ins and outs of countless diseases. The teaching has become a general rehearsal of these diseases, but now it’s condensed. Your own private practice at a GP surgery beckons. Being your own boss, feeling like you’re doing real work… It sounds fabulous after two years of sitting on a stool, watching, taking it all in.

There’s a sense of peace and self-confidence. Over the past six years, we’ve really been knocked into shape as aspiring doctors. The moment of graduation is finally drawing near.

But now it’s beginning to dawn on us that we’re in the last teaching period of the medical internships. The teaching periods were good times, with the Education Centre as a safe haven where we could find our feet again after ten weeks of hard labour, rest for a while and share our experiences with fellow students.

After the GP internship, there’s only the elective internship and senior residency to go – and then you’ll have finished your studies. The study group will be dissolved and everyone will go their own way. The system will have churned out a batch of new doctors, who need to start working as soon as possible to dig themselves out of student debt.

There’s no party, no big reception at a hospital. You might get a full induction period if you’re lucky, but most medical residency spots are currently drastically understaffed. You’ll need to propose, implement, communicate and manage policies yourself. You’ll also need to prescribe medication, send consultations, complete examination forms and deal with grumpy superiors, stressed-out colleagues, serious shortages, sky-high workloads, emergency situations, night shifts and interns.

You’ll have final responsibility for patients: you can no longer point the finger at someone else now that you’re a doctor yourself.

You’re afloat in the middle of the ocean, on a home-made dinghy, and a storm is raging around you. You need to learn to keep your head above water.

It’s starting to dawn on me now that I’m almost a doctor.

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