Being a shy person in medicine

Discussion in 'Studying Medicine' started by squashed, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. squashed

    squashed Monash BMedSci/MD I

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    So in the Monash course there's a lot of group work and discussions, which I know play a massive role in the life of a medical practitioner and health staff in general. Problem is, I'm not entirely comfortable speaking in front of large audiences (like when half the cohort has mass active learning and random people are picked out to answer questions ), sometimew my heart beats loudly and my voices wobbles. I also don't think that what I have to say is engaging, just me stating the obvious, so that's probably a part of it. One on one even sometimes can be hard but I'm improving... Especially with O week. But thinking about the volume of presentation and group work is a bit daunting.

    Do current/past meddies have some tips on improving confidence when speaking or getting over my introversion? I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with shyness but I'd feel bad for not contributing because I'm uncomfortable speaking to the group.
     
  2. LMG!

    LMG! Moderator (UTAS MBBS) Most Helpful Member and Staff Member of the Year 2017-2018

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    There are a couple of ways to tackle this kind of thing (which is quite common, so definitely don’t panic that you’re the only person), and I’d probably recommend a combo of both, tbh.

    The first is practice (effectively, exposure therapy - absolutely the key!). There are formal groups you can join (such as Toastmasters), where you can get practice opportunities. There are probably groups at the Uni that offer this kind of opportunity, too. Would definitely be worth following up with your Uni’s counsellors/student services to see what exposure options there are.

    Second, go see your Uni psychologist for some education around, and strategies for managing, the heart rate, voice wobbles side of things. This is basically your ANS (fight or flight system) interpreting your public speaking anxiety as you being attacked by a bear! It’s a great system for the most part, but also very, very unhelpful when it gets carried away!

    Don’t be too panicked about this though. It’s absolutely and most definitely something that responds well to practice for the vast majority of people. The key is, getting yourself prepared to do the practice. Acknowledge that the first however many times are gonna feel like shit, and that’s totally okay! But if you avoid opportunities or put it off, you’ll only reinforce your fears.

    Good luck! You can do it!

    ETA:
    https://www.monashtoastmasters.org/

    and if you type “Monash University public speaking” into google, several things come up that I can’t access because you need to log in, but they have headings like ‘public speaking for absolute beginners’, so that sounds like the right track!
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  3. BethMark25

    BethMark25 WSU MBBS II

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    Hi squashed, first of all, you are not alone!

    I'm extremely introverted, shy, and rather lacking in self confidence. First year was challenging for me, being in the hospital and taking histories in front of a crowd, presenting in PBL etc. I'm sitting here waiting for a group presentation now and I feel quite nervous even though it's nothing particularly stressful. You can be an introvert and still be well suited to a career in medicine.

    My advice would be to immerse yourself in it. In high school I participated in debating to get over my fear of public speaking. I guess the main thing to remember is that it DOES improve with practice. If you just take a deep breath and give it a go, it will eventually get far, far easier.

    I highly recommend activities/groups such as Toastmasters, as suggested by LMG! , as frightening as it can be it's best to dive in head first and you'll find it gets far easier. After one year of uni, doing presentations in front of my group in PBL no longer makes me panic like it did in first year

    For me I just remind myself that medical degrees are challenging for different people in different ways. I don't find the academic side hugely stressful yet (it's a lot of work, but I know I can do it), but it's the public speaking/building confidence/being put on the spot part that really gives me anxiety. I just treat that part as one more challenge along the way to becoming a doctor, it's difficult for everyone. You can do it!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 12:20 PM
  4. rustyedges

    rustyedges Otago MB ChB Moderator

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    Great advice above. The public speaking is a pretty unavoidable part of medicine, but most people grow to at least be comfortable with it. A psychiatrist remarked how the best treatment for social anxiety was doing a medicine degree.

    One thing that I find helps if you're called upon in a group, is just blurting the first thing that comes to your head. You're not expected to not much at this stage, and neither will your peers, and often you will be surprised at how often you're right or at least bring up an interesting point.
     
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  5. Texila

    Texila New Member

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    Hi,

    I do agree. Many people have this problem of stage fear. There are ways to over come it like by preparing a speech and talking in front of the mirror where you imagine there are audience. Get involved in group discussions etc..
     
  6. squashed

    squashed Monash BMedSci/MD I

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    2 weeks have gone by and I am feeling much more confident with talking in groups and with presentations. Thank you for all your advice :)
     
  7. rustyedges

    rustyedges Otago MB ChB Moderator

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    Great to hear! Presentations are like anything else really, just practice and they get a lot easier.
     
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