Intended for healthcare professionals

Student A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

A day in the life of a medical student from Pakistan

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 05 March 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n380
  1. Stijntje Dijk, PhD candidate
  1. Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  1. stijntjedijk{at}

In our series taking you into the lives of students across the globe without leaving your chair, BMJ Student spoke to a student who learns community medicine from Chinese books

“It was a night shift and the doctors went to get some rest because the nurses would contact them if they were needed,” says Nishwa Azeem, a medical student from Lahore, Pakistan. “A patient burst into the lounge where the doctors were sleeping, filmed them on a mobile phone, and told them that they should be on the wards. I think the patient was trying to make a political statement, to say that our health system is broken. Most patients are respectful and empathetic, but there’s been an increasing number of incidents where people have filmed doctors without their consent and uploaded the videos on social media. It’s frustrating, but I don’t think people realise that a doctor can be on a 36 hour call.”

A “house job” means long hours

Azeem started her “house job” (internship) in September2019 and worked up to 120 hours a week. “No one talks about it”, she says. “You’re on call for 31 hours, work the next day, and will probably have a night shift in the ER (Emergency) the day after. You might expect to get seven hours of sleep during a 31 hour shift, but it’s difficult to find time to sleep if you have sick patients.”

Many Pakistani students aren’t as concerned about their long hours as Azeem. She thinks that some interns rationalise the amount of work because they’re getting paid for it, unlike …

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