Friendship got me through Medical School

Kitiphume Thammasiraphop (MChD ‘19)
28 Jun 2022

I did my postgraduate studies at ANU Medical School and, like me, a lot of my classmates had moved interstate or internationally to study at ANU. I think everyone has a degree of vulnerability in that kind of situation, so we try and find some connection with other people in order to have a sense of security and stability. Luckily, on day one of medical school, I met a group of people at Orientation, and we just 'clicked'.

We've been good friends since; doing tutorials together, going on hikes, going down to the beach at Batemans Bay. We connected because we knew that we needed a support group to survive medical school, and the friendships we made lasts to this day, even in the workplace. I trust these people and know they will be there for me, whatever happens. Even with work, if I want to just debrief about what's happened that day, I can message or video call them, and know they'll be happy to talk about it and listen.

I also cannot imagine my life without the meaningful connections I made in my student societies. The ANU Thai Association, the ANU Buddhist Association, the ANU Medical Students Society and my home-away-from-home, Toad Hall, were all major parts of my journey through ANU.  The friendships and experiences in these groups really shaped who I am today, and I am grateful we all still keep in touch.

It's these fantastic relationships you make at ANU that become support when you're entering the work force. This has been especially true in a field like medicine. Having such a strong connection with a friendship group who has been through similar experiences to you really makes a difference. Likewise, being an ANU alumnus brings its own sense of community. A new lot of ANU alumni go across to Canberra Hospital or Calvary Hospital, or start working with ACT Health, and they become workmates. There is a real sense of camaraderie that comes with that, because even if you didn't study directly with them, you know that when you're working with ANU alumni, they have been through a similar experience and training as you. They've completed the same tutorials, had examinations in the same places, and often studied under the same teachers.

That shared experience really connects and benefits people in the workplace. Last year, there were some interns struggling to find their feet at the hospital. Knowing how important a support network is, I tried to help them in the ways my colleagues and friends from ANU helped me. I took on the role of a Blue Buddy - an informal peer to peer mentor - and provided extra help and supervision to interns when I could. For doing this, I was awarded the 'ACT Junior Doctor of the Year 2021', which was a surprise and true honour. I wanted to make sure they were mentally and emotionally well, so that they could look after themselves. But by helping them, the team dynamic improved which meant a better outcome for our patients. I think that is testimony to how friendship and connection can make the world a better place for everyone.

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