An Article I have written for the university newspaper. QMH refers to the teaching hospital.
Believe it or not introverts hide among us at the RVC! And that is no bad thing.
We all know everyone is different; it’s been ingrained in us since primary school. How we learn and engage in particular, practically, visually, aurally, reflectively, sociably etc I could go on.
Introversion or extroversion is another broad spectrum that we all sit somewhere along and if rotations has taught me anything, it has shown me that we all deal with a long week in the QMH differently. But usually involving some form of alcohol.
I am an introvert but I’m not shy. Whereas I can talk to anyone, I don’t necessary feel the urge to. I’m happy not to talk and sometimes would prefer not to. Rotations are tiring regardless and I want nothing more than an hour to myself to recharge and refocus at the end of it. It’s not because I haven’t enjoyed myself. It’s that I have so many thoughts whirling through my head from the day’s escapades that I need a moment to breath and clear them. Then I’ll be fine again.
Extroverts, so the definition describes, are the opposite. They gain more energy being with people and so prefer to stay with people after a long and stressful day, they don’t necessarily need that break.
Most introverts hide well because they can be found in busy areas and cope totally fine in crowded and loud places on the condition that they know they’ll get a breather occasionally. Going to the bathroom for the second ‘wee’ in two hours is because those couple of minutes on the lav are beautiful. We focus our thoughts, think about what’s happened, decide who I want to chat to next, what will I eat and drink next, what time I’ll wake up in the morning etc it goes on.
Rotations have difficult but exciting. For the sneaky introverts out there I feel that we may have had it that much harder and I think that some small changes could make a big difference to the year without affecting extroverts or too much in general.
First of all, seminars in the morning: By three in the afternoon, after spending seven hours with lots of other people, being quizzed, running around trying to find the right people, the right patients, talking to stressed owners and trying to convince clinicians that I know what I’m talking about. The last thing I need is to then walk into a room to intensely discuss someone else’s case and what their next steps are going to be. I have too much of my own cases going on in my head to have any concentration or discussion left. Make the seminars in the morning. By the following morning I’ve had the previous evening to unwind, go through my own thoughts and sleep on them and plan for the morning. In the morning I’m yours and I’m happy to discuss a diarrheaing boxer for as long as is deemed necessary.
Second, create a quiet space in the QMH. This might be quite hard, I appreciate that. Everyone will agree with me that the student room is generally mental. Bags on seats, loud excitable students, computers buzzing, kettles going, microwaves pinging and phones ringing. There was one or two afternoons where I struggled and went to the library for an hour. It only takes for a stressful morning to need some time to recoup over lunch. I’m not suggesting a large room or a room with anything in particular in it. Maybe some desks, maybe some chairs, but an absolute must would be on the outside of the door, a sign that says “strictly quiet”. People could eat, people can be doing something on their phones but no talking. Or else, make it easier to go to somewhere quieter, like the library for 30 minutes. You may find that a room such as that will free up some of the toilets frequently inhabited by the secret introverts, as it is our only refuge in the QMH.
Third, quizzing and feedback: I particularly enjoyed tracking with the smaller groups and often one on one teaching. Personally, that suits me far better than big group teaching but that’s not the same for everyone so I wont suggest changing the current system. And without being totally negative, I do think over the year, I have become slightly more assertive. But too often I felt dread towards group sessions.
What was particularly difficult with the big group sessions is being pointed out to give an answer. There is no sure fire way of an introvert not giving you the answer you’re after than by pointing at their face a second after you have asked the question. Then to make it even better, only giving them five seconds to answer before moving to another person. You can make a bet that the minute the pointing finger gets directed elsewhere the answer comes straight to the mind of the introvert. But it’s too late.
It was disheartening after the first few rotation blocks to be told I need to be louder. I understood why yet I’m being told that my knowledge, communication and ability is fine, I just need to be louder. Why? It’s not me to be louder than other people. I’ll get what I want to say across and heard. Usually I’ll wait until other people have said what they want to. But my voice will be heard. And therefore I learned to ignore this comment, as I got more confident in my own ability.
Similarly I got warned with a cause for concern after the first week of a two-week rotation for not giving enough answers. Second week I was so on edge trying to force out answers and so aware that I was being watched and analyzed that I didn’t enjoy it and I don’t think I gained a huge amount.
Therefore, I suggest devising other ways such as spot tests, mock papers and one on one conversations. I know these are all more time consuming than a half hour session of who can shout out words the loudest and fastest but I think it would be a bit more of a rounded approach. Success seems to come from being loudest too often. Yet it just proves who the loudest is.
I often wonder if it is as hard for an extrovert to not say something when they want to as it is for an introvert to say something when they don’t want to?
Just a reminder that there are introverts out there and it’s not a bad thing to not be loud, we make up for it in our ability to listen, understand and reflect.
a proud introvert.