Camels & New Friends
By Kimberley Yuen, Meds '22
Backstory: Before I started medical school, my partner and I decided to do a backpacking trip for five months, which started in September 2017. Our first stop was India — we both had never been, and we were ready to explore this culturally rich, colourful and culinarily-exquisite country. We were three weeks into our time in India and we had just hopped off a train in Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer, nicknamed the “Golden City” is in the Thar Desert, which boasts touristy things like: “overnight desert getaway” and “camel desert adventure.” Being the India first-timers we were, we obviously had to try it out (but on a budget of course!). Naturally, we quickly booked one of the awesome-sounding overnight camel tours for the next day. The following morning, we were whisked up in a mid-2000s Jeep and were told we would be picking up another group. We didn’t know that another group would be joining us, but this also wasn’t the first time something like this happened to us. Turns out the group was a couple from Slovenia and coincidentally, a medical student and businessman (a Slovenian version of my partner and I). After 2 nights of sleeping on a blanket in the sand, with dung beetles crawling all over us and harsh winds blowing sand in our faces all night, an unforgettable and comical friendship was born. Side note: I would not recommend a budget overnight camel tour, no matter how extravagant it sounds. You definitely get what you pay for.
At the time I met Ajda, she was a medical student in her last year in Slovenia. I recently asked her a few questions for this issue because I thought her perspective would be more than fitting. I also think it’s important to have conversations with other healthcare practitioners from around the world, both to learn from them and to gain some perspective.
What is your current role?
Currently I’m on maternity leave after which I will start rotating for an internship in Paediatrics.
Why did you choose to go into medicine?
Since I could remember I was interested in science, biology and the human body, especially genetics. So going to med school seemed a perfect decision to me. Honestly, I was more interested in Medicine in terms of science and not so much in becoming a doctor. I’m a doctor now but I would gladly go back to med school. I loved it.
What is the process like in Slovenia?
After finishing med school, which is six years, you have to rotate for six months. Rotation is mostly in emergency departments. After that, you can apply for a professional exam. If you pass, you are permitted to apply for specialization. Public tender for specializations is twice a year. Internships are given to candidates with the best score. Scores are composed of an interview, average grades, recommendation [letters] and extra points like published papers etc. The length of your internship depends on the specialty and can take from four to six years. At the end you have a specialty exam after which you finally become a licensed doctor and can practice medicine independently.
What is the medical system like in Slovenia?
We have a public health care system. We have mandatory insurance, however not all medical costs are covered by this programme, thus the majority [of people] also have additional insurance that covers full medical costs.
What do you love most about medicine?
That it’s alive. It can be unpredictable and challenging. And nothing is straightforward. Straightforward is easy and boring. But I was drawn to it because the physiology of the human body fascinates me.
What is one piece of advice you have
Be confident, you know more than you think you do. Still doubt yourself, you don’t know everything.
What do you think could be improved in the medical system in Slovenia?
Firstly, there should be more doctors. On an everyday basis it is often impossible to take time for your patients, to answer all their questions or to simply give them encouraging or kind words… you are just too worn out. A big problem is also the waiting periods to get [in] to [see] specialists. So, I guess the capacity on all levels is a big issue In Slovenia.
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