Showing posts from 2015

Gonna have to smash it

So about a year ago when I wrote a similar post about exam stress coming back along, I was super unsure and lost. This time around, I definitely feel more confident about what I need to do and how I need to do it but this time, the work is so much more complex (the brain. Why is it so abstract, theoretical and difficult???) and there is a great deal more to learn in depth.

Saying that, I'm looking forward tremendously to revising my ass off. I'm at my student house, home, alone. The other girls have gone back for christmas so it's just me, at my desk morning till evening, occasionally having a day or morning at work, cramming everything I can in. Had it been a year ago, the loneliness and lack of social interaction would have probably been enough to drive me off of a cliff edge but this time around it's so much better. I guess that comes with maturity, being more..."adult" and entirely satisfied with one's own company. It's a great place to finally be…

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

This week would be my "ECE week" however I seem to have done all my placements already! So thankfully, I can finally use this time to catch a breather on what has been an overall tough semester academically.
Neuroscience is incredibly interesting and I have grown to love it. Neuroanatomy will forever be something I remain in the dark with though, ha! This week I'll be revising the last few cases and hopefully getting myself organised for the last 2 weeks of term! Yesterday I had a PPD meeting (for my portfolio) but I can't help in thinking that it is just the most useless, tick boxing exercise I have ever been forced to do. Standards are kept incredibly high though, because if it's not done, you can literally fail the preclinical years and be asked to leave. The whole course. Forever. I've also learnt that tutors thoughts on it vary hugely too - some tutors literally only check to see if it's there without reading it, or commenting. Others (like mine) rea…

GP Placements

Here in our first two years of medical school we go on about 3-4 placements a term, usually 50/50 between GP and hospitals.

This morning I had a placement in a GP surgery and a home visit. The placements we get can be very variable in terms of quality of doctor, amount of interest they have in teaching you and what you get the opportunity to do.

Today, I met a brilliant partner of a GP surgery who was at the top of her game. She showed us a few things, really let us get hands on and spent some time discussing the patients with us. She was brilliant, explained things really simply and showed us what a great doctor looks like. What I really loved and appreciated though was that she took some time at the end to ask us about us. She wanted to know our backgrounds, explored our thoughts about career prospects at a time where a lot of graduates and newly qualified's are running for the hills.

I took the time to ask her about her family life. She had two photographs up on the windowsill …

Oh Oh Oh To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls' Vaginas And Hymen

To those of you familiar with cranial nerves, I am sure you will also be be familiar with the pneumonic above as well as the painstaking soul crushing hours one must put in to get even a vague understanding of the brain. If you aren't all that familiar, then the title of this post makes me look like a right weirdo but I promise you it's a real pneumonic!

I don't know whether it is just this week or whether it's been the whole term (I can't remember one week from the next at the moment it's all blurring into one) but I am working so full on. And I don't mean like, always at university, having to do work every evening; I mean like full-on-revision-schedule-6-minimum-hours-of-studying-a-day-full-on. Has it always been like this and I've just done the bare minimum of work previously? But now I've opened up my eyes, finally have a grasp of what I need to do and now I'm just doing what everyone else was doing last year? Or is it a whole new Sem 3 thin…

Busy busy busy

So after a crazy up-and-down summer, I moved into my new house with the girls around mid-september. Suffice to say; I am loving it.

It makes such a nice change from halls where you're not constantly wanting to slit someone's throat because they're using the sink as their own personal storage bin and I can't even tell you just how gratifying it is to be able to come home after a long day, stick the telly on and have a gossip with your mates on the sofa. I knew I would prefer it to halls, I just didn't expect to love it so much I don't think I'll ever want to move out!

We're all pretty hard working gals too so there's no risk of being overly distracted and just sitting in front of the TV all day (although that is very easy to do I have learnt). Also I can finally wash and dry my clothes without having to top up some stupid laundry card and have to stand guard so nobody moves / steals my washing. Then it's just stuff like being able to cook for you…

Roll on Second Year!

I am pleased to announce that I passed my resit with satisfaction! I am excited, so excited to go back to university and start another year.

I move into my new house with the girls mid september, then I have mummies-and-daddies training and then the real crunch starts.

I'm a little worried as to how i'll handle Sem 3 as it's often argued the hardest of the lot... i've also been dealing with a lot of pressures these past few months which have a put a question mark on my return to university.

My parents have begun a messy divorce that will take, more than anything, time. I have found that I need a lot more support in terms of who I am and where I fit in my family. I also know the financial pressures will be huge this year as the implications of the divorce stand so it's going to be stressful. Not returning or deferring for a year sits too uncomfortably with me though, so I won't give myself any other choice. I am going to plough on through, for better or for wors…


I got a letter from my mitigation board first. They had accepted my application for mitigation for my Semester 2 exam. This was confusing, why hadn't they given me mitigation for my other exams? It turns out, it was because I'd somehow passed them.

The next e-mail came through, breakdown of scores, boundaries. A pass was 53%. I got 52%. Fortunately the breakdown of the results available later that day highlighted my weak points perfectly. Namely, anatomy and pharmacology and they made the bulk of the questions. Fair enough, I could barely remember the name of a single drug. I didn't deserve to pass and I didn't.

Breaking down the OSCE's I thought it would be a fun little game to see if I really did fail the stations I thought I did.

Station 1: CPR
My thought: 50/50
Reality: Pass (on the boundary!)

Station 2: Heart and lung sounds
My thought: fail Reality: Pass (on the boundary!) 
Station 3: Blood Pressure My thought: fail Reality: fail - this was just one big mess,…

OSCE 2 and Semester 2


Part A
The second day of OSCE's included 2 anatomy stations and 2 communication stations.

The anatomy stations involved being quizzed on by an anatomy demonstrator from a list of questions you'd randomly pick and would include things like "Find x", "Name and locate y," and "What are the borders of Z?"

There is not a great deal to report here. You either know the answers or you don't. The pressure of time makes you shit bags too, but the adrenaline is pumping and somehow you manage not to just collapse and drop dead from the panic (not to be dramatic or anything).

It's important to note that I knew those anatomy flashcards inside out. I totally had it. However the minute the demonstrator asked me to find x on the real thing, I really really struggled. I wish I had paid more attention and made greater use out of anatomy sessions.

I thought both stations went dreadfully. I recall my first demonstrator repeating the same instruction 3 ti…


Today was my first OSCE examination. It consists of six 5 minute stations and depending on the station you may or may not find a patient there. It's nerve wracking, heart pumping and all a bit of a blur. It is (and i'm sure all other medical students will agree) one of the most difficult examinations to be put under.

Station 1: Resuscitation 50/50

Person found collapsed, 25 metres from the nearest house by an electrical thing but no lakes or water nearby.

This one was quite straight forward.
D - Identified the danger. Made sure it was safe to approach.
R - Shook the patient for a response. None given.
S - Shouted for help.
A - lifted the head back, pulled the jaw down - got my airway
B - pressed ear against mouth, watched chest, no signs of breathing

At this point there is no point starting compression without getting help first. I go to the house, tell them to call an ambulance for an adult male found collapsed and to bring a defibrillator. I tell said person to join me.

C - …


Trust my group to be the one that gets to be on clinical placement the morning of our results. We all had a quiet agreement before hand not to make a big song and dance about it, that those of us who wanted to check would do so quietly and there wouldn't be this "but what exact percentile did you get?" shit that goes on. This was fortunate because even when I looked at my results, I got to pretend I hadn't yet, to allow me some time to process it before anyone else impounded their reaction onto me. I am becoming increasingly aware of how decisions you make can largely be influenced (or entirely) by the people around you and so (a bit like as I question my very decision to apply to do medicine in the first place) how do you really know what are 100% your feelings or decisions?

When I glimpsed down at my iPhone for all of 0.2 seconds just to read "Satisfactory" I didn't want the whole, "OMG, Congratulations!!" or "You must be made up!"…

Let's Limbo

I had 2 exams in January and they were both over within 4 days. I only arrived back at University the Friday before my Monday exam. I am not a crammer. I am not someone that can sit revising at the very last minute before an early morning exam scrambling through pages of notes hoping I'll read and memorise something crucial that will help me... I find those individuals make me so uncomfortable. They seem to relish that panic, that last minute "but oh my god, what's the name of that thing that Professor X said we really must learn about, oh my god I've completely forgotten, oh my god I'm going to fail this exam and have to leave and then bring shame on my whole family and it's livestock and..." - no. Shut your face.
I may have taken it to the other extreme, by barely doing anything the weekend before the exam. Not because I was quietly confident or knew I'd done as much as I could but actually, (and it's only now in hindsight do I realise this) it …


She died on NYE. 4 days before they said she had a couple of weeks. 2 weeks before that we were all optimistically singing on a few months at least.

We were at college together and only for a year. But due to the nature of the college and the size of it, you got to know people quickly and intensely. She tried 4 times to get into medical school - but there were problems bigger than her academics, big life issues she was facing and then bang, here's something else to deal with. She was 21 years old.

I'm not going to pretend we were best friends but when you're in a college who's population probably couldn't fill a quarter of a gym hall and classes with no more than a handful of people, they sort of become your life for a while. We didn't stay in touch well... she had bigger shit to deal with and I was spending 40 hours / week in a hospital and the rest of it trying to get into university.

I've seen people die, i've been in the room when they've taken …