A love of animals and a career day involving job shadowing took him to a veterinary clinic. However, by the end of the day, he had found out that he was allergic to cats.
“It was a bit of an awkward situation, but I realised helping people was the next logical step. The bonus is that people can talk to you and you can relate to the patient.”
While Christian’s future obviously has medicine featured in there somewhere, he is still yet to firmly decide on what specific direction his career will take. Currently in his fifth year of medical school at the University of Otago, the six-year degree is then following by two years of being a house officer (a junior doctor at a hospital which has a ward management role), and after this, Christian hopes to have found his calling in the specialty that he is passionate about.
“At this point, it will probably be something surgical. The plan will be to get accepted into a training scheme as a registrar in that specialty. Throughout this, I intend to do some travelling and work abroad, as I think it should be encouraged that we go overseas and experience the different medical cultures around the world.
“Then we can bring back ideas, techniques, and new abilities to enhance the healthcare here in New Zealand. In saying all of this, new research or the development of a new area of medicine could change my plan completely, and that is what makes this career so exciting.”
House, Scrubs, Greys Anatomy, and Private Practice are among an excess of medical-related TV shows, but Christian says that there is almost nothing remotely relatable in those shows to the real world of medicine and healthcare.
“The days are long and being on call does exist. Second and third year are like any other degree, with lectures and tutorials, but fourth year onwards are clinical years, and you are in the hospital on the wards and part of a team. A typical day can start at 7:30am for handover and finish at 5:30pm, or if your team is on-call, it could mean finishing at 11pm. This is still as a student! Thankfully, night shifts don’t start until after graduation, but actually, the off-peak times are the best for individual learning.”
But the long hours are worth it and Christian says, he really enjoys working with classmates and being a part of a team.
“After being with colleagues for six years, you become very close and develop lifelong friends. I get to see the real difference doctors make to people’s lives, and it is extremely rewarding to see the results of your treatment when you help a patient especially when they present extremely unwell. The amazing prospects that medicine has to offer and its ability to change and evolve also makes the journey so much more exciting. No day is ever the same.”