Medical student reflections

Medical student reflections text and image of prize winner

We have had the pleasure to sit down with our NSW Medical Student Essay Prize winners and highly commended entrants, to chat about the essay process and what they have learned along the way. Our 2022 prize winner Jessie Cai shares her thoughts. We invite you to read Jessie's essay Law in social media - what goes up does not come down

How has writing this essay changed your understanding of the role of the Medical Council of NSW?

Writing this essay has developed my understanding of the Medical Council of NSW a lot more. I really wasn’t familiar with the role of the Council prior to my research, and I'd only heard of it from a supervisor who was an advisory member. I'd thought Council processes applied only to practitioner cases, and not to me as a medical student. After writing this essay, I now understand that the Council can potentially intervene with notifications or complaints about medical students too, and I realise this is an organisation I will likely need to be familiar with in some capacity for the rest of my career. 

What do you see as some of the challenges in managing a social media profile as a medical student?

I definitely see the biggest challenge being balance. One part of me revels in being a young person, and enjoying my twenties as a time to understand and express myself. On the flip side, I'm coming to terms with the gravity of the vocation I've chosen and the responsibility owed to all who we're privileged to treat. In terms of managing a social media profile, this means that while half of me that wants to post what I like, the other half worries about the implications my socials might have on my future career. Maybe me as a late-career clinician would not be so smiley about my latest public selfie.

I owe it to the profession to manage my social media appropriately, as a damaging post is not only harmful to my career, but to the medical profession as a whole. It can be a challenge to keep this in mind alongside professional expectations, especially since I'm still so early in my medical journey and have an immature understanding about many aspects of a doctor’s working life.

After having completed your essay research, if you could give advice to your fellow medical students in their approach to social media, what would it be?

What we post on social media in a moment can become permanent. I would live by some rendition of this sentiment. I don’t think sharing on social media is inherently good or bad, but what you post leaves a digital footprint that's pretty much impossible to erase. If you can live comfortably with this, and have a strong conviction that your future self will feel the same, then by all means hit ‘post’.

What overarching principles do you feel should guide social media engagement as a medical student or practitioner?

Our duty, first and foremost, is to the care of our patients. That's the truth of the vocation we've chosen. So we should ensure our behaviour both online and offline is in the best interests of not only our current patients, but our future patients as senior clinicians. I think it serves medical students, like practitioners, to be guided by the same principles of care and integrity we apply in clinical settings, and then assume this standard when we interact with others online.