Page 44 – 45 / 1941 – 42

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Page 4 of the ‘Syonan Times’, Tuesday February 24.

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‘You want to be a doctor?’ by ‘Medical Student’ (Jack Milnes Wood).

YOU WANT TO BE A DOCTOR? by “Medical Student”
During the past few years, doctor debunking has become almost a national pastime, more mud being thrown at the profession than was ever seen from the end of Changi pier.

It is really surprising how few people outside the profession know exactly what the medical student has to go through. So next time you are going to denounce your doctor as an uneducated quack, just remember this:

Firstly, the medical student has to go to a university – not for the usual three years demanded of an arts or science graduate, but for a whole solid six – and longer if he fails any of his exams! In order to enter his selected university he must first achieve its matriculation standard in general education. This first hurdle passed, he becomes a member of his Medical School, usually in October and starts work at once for his first M.B. exam held the following July.

If the student passes his first exam, he can start on the two-year course for his second. This time he tackles Organic and Applied Chemistry, Human Anatomy and Embryology, Physiology and Therapeutics – and even if they don’t mean much to you they represent some pretty hard work. At the same time he must attend the dissection room for a certain number of hours each term, and has usually to pass most of one Long Vacation at college.

He now begins to know something of the body and its workings, as well as the drugs that cure it when it goes wrong, and, if he has worked hard enough, he passes his second M.B. examination, which is held in two parts.

He now commences his Clinical Course – that is, he does most of his work inside the hospital, while if he is at Oxford or Cambridge, he must come down and attend a Metropolitan Medical School.

For the next three years he holds a succession of three month appointments in the wards and out-patient department, working all the time under the instruction of the hospital doctors. He takes a course in midwifery, and usually spends a fortnight in the hospital maternity wards before passing on to the pathological department and the department of operative surgery. He must make a first hand study of the diseases of the ear, throat, and nose, as well as dental surgery, and holds his final appointments in the special departments for mental diseases, infectious fevers, skin diseases, and radiology.

He has to attend post-mortems and operations – and more than one young student has fainted away on his first visit to the operating theatre. During this clinical period he gets but one months [sp] vacation a year, and must attend lectures in medicine, surgery, pathology, bacteriology, forensic medicine, toxicology, public health, tropical diseases, vaccination, fevers, metal diseases, anesthetics, and pharmaceutics – and he usually finds time to play Rugger as well. (Hence the Medics [sp] unbeaten record in the POW camp).

In order to become a qualified practitioner, he must, by law, either hold a university degree, the license if the College of Physicians or of the Society of Apothecaries, or be a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. These qualifications can, of course only be obtained by a stiff examination, while he will find it greatly to his advantage to possess at least two of them.

Once he has passed his “finals”, he becomes a fully fledged doctor; but even now he is not finished. He usually holds an appointment such as House Physician or House Surgeon in this hospital for some six months, at which he works very hard, and, if he gets paid anything at all, receives only a nominal sum, similar to the Amenity Grant.

Then, at last, he sets out to make a living, either in a hospital, in the Services, in private practice, or in any other field open to him. A doctor’s education is never finished, but at least he is through with the University and he has finished his course.

And the cost? About £1,500, or more if he has been to Oxford or Cambridge. Now think of THAT next time you put off paying your doctor’s bill.

[Some scribbled notes on margins]