Showing posts from 2016

A&E block

So, following a duller Endocrine placement I was looking forward to being thrown right back into the thick of it at a very busy tertiary emergency department at the heart of Manchester. The way we do A&E placements is very different to how other placements are held. For a start, there aren't any outpatient clinics, there aren't any ward rounds etc. Secondly, you are assigned shift patterns for the duration of your four weeks. My four weeks will run like this:

Monday - nothing
Tuesday - 1700-0000
Wednesday - 1200-2200
Thursday - 0800-1600

Not including the teaching that we have every day from 4pm - 5pm and the Friday's usual themed case discussions etc, and clinical debrief and all of that.

We also get the pleasure of wearing big pocketed-scrubs much to my other colleagues' envy. Placement clothes are not fun, a pain in the backside to pick out and for women - have like no pockets on a skirt. You then risk wearing your stethoscope around your neck and being called a…

Endocrine - not for me

Following my respiratory block, I had 6 weeks placed at a DGH on an endocrinology placement. First off - let's have a little chat about DHS's: christ it was quiet. It made a very dramatic change from the busy hospital I am usually at, it was eerily quiet, there were just as many doctors (I felt), who were actually at times, bored. Despite being on AMU, one of the busier wards with a high patient turnover and a range of ages, conditions and presentations, it was actually... a bit dull. There were also two firms (two groups, with a different consultant lead) again, exhausted all the patients quite quickly.

We were also given a "WOW" week; Week On Ward. This is when our whole firm was permanently on AMU, and we rotated through being on a ward round, having "history taking", or Phlebotomy / Cannulation. I was most looking forward to having my blood taking skills improve and with a total of 12 hours timetabled just for this activity, I was thanking God I had the…

My First Block Summary

So, after a few weeks readjusting, the medical school scrambling to rectify the administrative shambles that it was becoming, how was it going? Pretty good. Many people were struggling but I find that's actually because it was for the first time, requiring some of the lazier students to be proactive. Yeah, it will be worth going to that 9am ward round if you want to get to know which patients will have good clinical signs. It will be worth shadowing that doctor for 90 minutes if she observes you doing an examination in the 91st minute. It will be worth slugging it out for a little bit because when someone does need a hand, they will be willing to ask and teach you.

Because of my persistence and willingness to stand around, I had the opportunity to be taught loads. Our firm teaching was mainly of a good standard too. Our firm teaching was essentially my group of 8 students either being provided bedside teaching where the doctor would find a suitable patient with clinical signs that…

but what are we meant to be doing?!

I haven't updated in a while and the reason is a simple one; I completely forgot that I even had a blog. I forgot how to do life for a bit when I was thrown into my clinical years. After a shakey few weeks, things began to settle and the rough and tumble of a busy medical students life began. If I felt time pressure before, deadlines and commitments, I was being stretched to the maximum now.

My biggest confusion about this year was what an earth would we be doing this year. Hilariously, my friends and I joked about whether or not we would be on the wards at 6am. Before beginning we had the usual talk about what was expected of us: yes, turn up on time, do your portfolio, take every learning opportunity etc etc. But seriously; what was a third years timetable like and what are we meant to be doing?

A couple of weeks before my first placement began, my timetable showed

"Firm Teaching" 2-3 times a week for about an hour each time. [What is a firm? Where does it take place? W…

And we're not even half a doctor

So this summer I have been travelling around east Europe which was hella fun and got the "travel itch" now where I just can't wait to go again. I went to Budapest, Prague, Vienna and Berlin. Vienna was surprisingly amazing and Berlin was just incredible. I woud go back time and time again.

I've also just been doing a lot of overtime at work to keep the cash flow going and I've been trying to keep up with the gym too. It's been a bit difficult maintaining the good routine I had implemented before I went on holiday, during and after coming back. I had been eating, supplementing and working out really well up until then and I have been a bit slow to restart again. This has been compounded by the fact that I have actually had to start doing things for medical school again. An online 4 hour induction for e.g.

Then last Friday night my new, lovely flat got burgled. Someone, just came in the dead of the night, through the window, while I slept in the next room and t…

and with a "fuck off" my landlord slammed the door.

Living in a house, with 3 other girls hasn't always been rosy perfect. Shared housing is never 100% smooth or easy - there were the occasional disputes between us; mainly about money which is just awkward for everyone involved but overall, it was lovely. We ended up hardly ever seeing eachother which was also fine, just in and out the house with very different timetables.

It was an absolute horror however, from move in day till move out day with our landlord. He would send us vicious e-mails. It started with on move in day, mine and my house mates keys wouldn't actually work. They didn't lock the door except on fluke; this meant that we couldn't both leave the house (with all of our possessions in) at the same time. It's not the problems with the house, or the dodgy locks or how these were addressed that upset us. It was how he insisted on responding to our queries with vindictive, malicious language. Professionalism just did not register on his radar.

I recall at …

Second Year actually done...

So I got my second year results today and have passed everything (thankfully) and successfully progress to Phase 2 of the course! Hoorah!

Not overly happy though and this is why I feel I must write to reflect on everything that's happened. I didn't pass well - in fact I never pass well, but this time I got a low pass. For our exams, it goes like this:

Low pass, satisfactory, honours, distinction. Previously I have always gotten a satisfactory. Sometimes scraped, granted, but this time - a low pass. I don't know how I worked so hard for so long and managed to walk away with my worst ever score. I am so annoyed at myself. How did I let this happen??

This time round when revising:

1. I didn't use the pomodoro technique. A technique I know works for me and works for me well.
2. I didn't revise at home. I was in the library day in, day out. This was annoying to have to travel back for lunch and dinner and expensive to be getting coffee's and teas on campus.
3. I spe…

2nd Year Done (Hopefully)


After yet another hard slog of library days, 7am starts and draining evenings, I have finished my second year of medical school. (Touch wood I don't have to resit). It feels very very weird... I remember reading about students finishing phase 1 years ago and thinking about how far away that felt. How different the moral of the NHS was back then too... how different my own morale was.

I am excited for things to change next year, to be mainly hospital based and in a new way of learning. I'm also quite sad that so many of my friends are having to move to 'de-Press'ton (Preston) and that I won't get to see them quite as often. I value them hugely and they've become a massive part of my support system here, so them moving away does feel with me a slight sense of misery. Change isn't always great either, I've only just got accustomed to PBL and the rhythm of learning like this but what with so many new changes being implemented into the …

It's alright, I'll just take some Modafinil

Study drugs; what I thought were used by the desperate, the well and truly left-it-so-late-it's-now-too-late hardcore, "academia is my whole life" and "life isn't worth living if I fail" oxbridge types. I look around me right now in the library: I know at least two people in the room are on them. I wonder how many more are.

Some of these people are my friends. They're capable of concentrating, they made it into medical school in the first place without ever touching them and so they are capable of passing exams without them: so why have they resorted to what I thought was a last-ditch attempt at powering through an essay type drug? I'm slightly disappointed by them. We both know that they're capable of passing these exams without them: what it's come down to, is that they're being too lazy to try.

And what if they weren't capable of passing or studying without them? Then if they pass; they're passing under false pretences. In the…

This is not easy

Over the past fortnight, i've seen several of my friends break down and cry about how hard this all is. About the sheer frustration they feel trying to study for a career they once dreamt about, about watching the NHS be torn apart right in front of our eyes, about wanting a better a quality of life then we would get as doctors. We're not saying we'll have an awful quality of life, no, but it's certainly not what we once thought it would be.

It seems like nobody actually wants to do this any more. So why are we? Because it's Medicine, no matter what, will be a good degree to have. Whether you establish your whole career based on it, or whether it's simply a platform to go onto better things; a medical degree isn't a bad thing to have under your belt at all. This is what I tell myself when I have been sat in the library for 12 hours. My exams are around the corner and I think about how difficult this is.

Of course it is. It was never going to be easy; but you…

please slow the fuck down

It's March already. What the hell is happening?

I'm two months away from sitting my Semester 4 exam and then i'm into clinical years. HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED SO QUICK???

I remember moving into halls like it was YESTERDAY. I remember doing my GCSE's and reading about 6 million other blogs from medical students at University reflecting on their clinical experiences and thinking about how far away it seemed, what a dream it would be to be in that position... it's actually blowing my mind.

I keep getting palpitations every time I look at my calendar and see how little time there is between breaking up for the summer and now. Technically my last ever proper summer. What the fuck am I doing with it? Jack shit it would seem. That's stressing me out - feeling like i'm not making the most of the time I've got.

I'm caught up in feeling like there is so much I need to do and trying to stay on top of everything while not freaking out and actually thinking I just …


Looking back at the OSCE's which were the real source of my heartache feedback this year was welcomingly more detailed! I have left out the average score of the cohort and my percentage in the interests of privacy but i'm pleased the medical school provided us with them. 
Station 1: Anatomy  Predicted: Fail Actual: Fail
Station 2: Anatomy Predicted: Fail Actual: Fail
Station 3: Opthalmoscopy / Otoscopy Predicted: PASS Boundary: 69.2%  My score: PASS

Well above average here! In fact the only place in this station I got less than 100% was the use of the ophthalascope because I spent so long faffing around with which one is the right light!
Station 4: BP and Pulses Predicted: PASS Boundary: 68.4%  My score: PASS
Interesting that I was so confident with this at the time but did about averagely. Marks lost here was doing the actual BP by palpitation and auscultation.

End of Exams

So on Thursday we had these new exams being introduced to Year 2 students: "integrated osce's". The idea being that from year 3 onwards we are expected to perform osce's in a "whole picture" way, so communication, examination and knowledge of what's going on would be examined all together. In a way to make it more "realistic" of the real world.

Great idea in theory.

There were two "integrated" stations this time. 8 minutes each. Buzzer went off at 8 minutes.

Let me start by saying my exam time was early morning. Exams were being held from 0845 to 1630. We were going in blind, no idea what the stations would be assessing - there was no official announcement the night before making it even more unfair for the people who had their exams first. Everyone from about 11am however, had plenty of notice to find out what the OSCE's were on and how to prepare for them.  This was bullshit.

So, I'm walking into my building, I realise the …

Year 2 OSCE's


So some bright spark thought as well as introducing two new stations and giving us the vaguest / unclear information about them, they've decided that we should have 8 (both anatomy, all of physiology / pharmacy and communications) on one day and the two new one's on another.

Today was the holy-mother-of-god 8 station day.

Phys / Pharm  Just like last time we had the run down of what the physiology/pharmacy stations would be the night before. I've not refreshed my e-mail so many times in quick succession since I was waiting for track to update.

The stations were decent - I was dreading an audiometry station or EMG but neither of those came up. So like last time i'll run through what they were and everything I fucked up on.

Station number. Station type: whether I think i've passed or failed (how confident I am that I passed / failed)

1. Otoscope / Ophthalmoscopy:Pass (60/40)
So this station was in three parts, had to look inside the ear of the patient, insid…

Semester 3 Test done, Progress Test done

So that last week up to the Semester 3 test was pretty manic. My friends and house mates all came back from their respective home cities and the stress kicked up yet another notch; something I did not believe could happen by this point.

I tell you what though, I employed a new tactic that last week. Something I have never done before. I worked with others. I am notorious for just needing to be on my own to crack on with revision, too-easily-distracted by the prospect of chatting about shit. I was apprehensive about employing this alien concept into my revision... and whilst those hours were definitely not as "progress" productive (aka it can takes three times as long to go through a topic when there are three of you) as the one's where I am on my own, it really helped cement some things in my mind. Moreover, things that I'm sure I wouldn't have remembered had we not discussed them suddenly came floating back to me in the exam.

I would work on my own all day to 6p…

Do. Not. Look. In the mirror.

It's exactly 1 week till my semester 3 exam. I can safely say it's going to be one of the toughest exams i've ever sat.

When I was going my a-levels, I found them tough at the time too, but then I knew by the time the exam came around, that I had covered everything inside out. I worked really hard for them and i've worked really hard for my semester 3, but this time I have not covered everything inside out. In fact i'm not even close to covering everything.

 How in gods name I will manage to scrape a pass for Semester 3 is anyone's guess and it's driving me insane. I took Christmas Eve to Boxing Day off and went home to enjoy some good food and my mothers soothing reassurance and every Wednesday and Sunday I've been doing my shifts at Waitrose (quite frankly, the only thing getting me out of the house so it has been a blessing) and besides that I've been waking up at 7am every day and working my fricking ass off.

I am Showered, tea made, at my desk…