All 11 entries tagged Abbie

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March 14, 2019

Goodbye Block 4, Hello Easter “break”

This week we did our final Phase One community day. It was a bittersweet day as although I will miss our tutors and how beautiful the town is, I won’t miss doing the presentations nor the rain which seemed to appear each day we went to Stratford. Our tutors have been lovely, and it was always nice heading back to the base to see them after a long day and discussing how our days with the patients and other representatives have been. They have always managed to get interesting patients and gave us some incredible feedback. I was told that my communication skills were good and for someone who isn’t exactly wired to be amazing at this, I was rather pleased!

We have also had to submit our first clinical case reports which was slightly nerve-racking as there was an essay element to it meaning I had to drag out the skill of writing academic essays from the depths of dissertation land as I have only really been writing in bullet points since September! However, I strangely enjoyed doing this as I got to direct my own learning and find out more of an area of care which intrigued me. I ended up writing about the use of fibrinolytic therapy as pre-hospital medicine and I hope that I will be able to use this new information next year (if I pass my exams). I found out this is mostly what clinical learning consists off after having seen the year 2 resources, so I am looking forward to being able to direct my own learning next year (if I pass my exams).

We also had the deans breakfast this week which I was intrigued about as I had to miss the last one due to illness. I very nearly missed this one as I had woken up at 6:30 am so I could get ready and amble up to the med school, only to have had a nap and ended up waking up at 7:30. I’ve never been so grateful to be living on campus where I could throw on some (less crumpled) clothes and leg it up the hill. Essentially, we have breakfast with the dean (which I suppose is self-explanatory) and a couple of senior staff such as Colin McDougall and we were encouraged to chat about what is going well and what isn’t. We were all keen to mention that having Wednesday off has been a blessing as it has meant we have had some room to breathe and catch up so hopefully, this will continue for the year below us. We also suggested about trying to get some of the main campus services to the Med School such as food from Rootes etc. as we just don’t have the time to be wandering down to campus and back and eat the food in the lunch break we have and it would be nice to have some choice as to what we have for lunch up here.

Despite the windy weather now, we have also had some beautiful sun which we all took full advantage of by sitting out in the sunshine working on our notes and actively learning about Vitamin D and UV rays. We suggested that we could have a (non-alcoholic drinks of course) bar on the Med School balcony and call it the Guillain-Barre. We could also have “The Grubby Goose” but I prefer the former. On that day, I also met with my fellow Warwick MedLife blogger Jordan to discuss our slides for the upcoming Open Days. It was finally nice to put a face to a name and I like to way our PowerPoint is looking, a touch of fear followed by a wave of “it’s all going to be ok”.

I am feeling a bit calmer about exams and revision than I was the other week, but you can tell the apprehension is building in the year. We ran a Tea and Empathy society this week and the topic on everyone’s minds was what they are going to do over Easter, and how they were going to revise. I think I have had an idea, but I have also been asking the year above us what tips they have, I just have to keep telling myself that I can learn it – and not start panicking. I have so many plans for the second year, so I am going to try my hardest to not have to retake and continue my medical education. I think we are all worried in some way or another about not making it to next year, but we have Easter break for revision and tonne of support we can access.

We can do this guys !


February 26, 2019

Did someone say the E word?

Yes … they did. Today. In Anatomy. They counted how many days we had to go. My heart nearly stopped. I keep saying I will start my revision in March but now I realise that March is next week. Gulp. So, like any good student. I have chosen to put it off a bit more and distract myself with other things to do!

It really has been a busy couple of weeks with a lot going on. My clinical teaching this week brought a couple of firsts with one patient sticking in my mind. They had a cardiac condition to which I was able to hear my first heart murmur and felt heaves and thrills! This was incredible to see as we are taught about these things in clinical exams and we are so used to performing on each other that we forget what we are meant to be looking for so to see this in the clinic was unforgettable!

One major thing that has happened is that some of my year participated in some research regarding the use of VR in anatomy teaching. I was intrigued as I used some VR in my previous degree, and I am really struggling to pick the anatomy up this block so I wondered if it would help. There was a control and experimental group but both groups could use the VR once the experiment had ended. The kit was incredible in the fact you could manipulate the limb in so many ways including looking at each muscle’s individual movement. I could easily study from it and I really hope to see it come into teaching soon! I’m pretty sure it would have been a good giggle to record us using the VR set as a bunch of students, waving their arms around with massive headsets on would have been a sight to see.

I also had an event that I had signed myself up to in September not realising just how busy I was to become! This is the National Undergraduate Neuroanatomy Competition held in Southampton. I genuinely love Neuroanatomy so I thought it would be a good challenge to learn some further anatomy and see how much I could remember from block three. It was an incredible day and I really enjoyed it, even though I couldn’t answer half the questions! An example is in block three we are expected to name the vessels in the Circle of Willis and not many more, here they had a pin pointing to a random artery peeking through the cerebral surface and a faint grey line on a Neuro Angiogram. Safe to say, I don’t think “Artery” alone quite cut it. However, when it did come to the block three material, I could recall most of it, so I am pleased with how I did! I can’t wait to go back next year, and I am aiming for Top 10. Currently, St. Georges seem to do brilliantly in this competition, so I am keen for Warwick to knock them off the top spot!

Obviously, another highlight was the free(ish) food (we had to pay to enter the comp) consisting of pastries the size of your hand and pizza… a lot of pizza. There were some stands from the BMA (from which I now have three bones pens and some pen torches) and we also managed to get a mug for one of the third years who couldn’t go… We love freebies!

Another thing that has happened was going over to my medic family/student seminar team house for tea. We normally don’t meet for student seminars the first week of every block, so we descended for an evening of pizza, games and just a much-needed night off. It was also nice to see my medic mum and uncle as with the second years now in full-time hospitals, we don’t see them that much. I also gained a new half-sibling as my student seminar pal announced she needed to be adopted so my student seminar teachers decided to adopt her. I am looking forward to next year (if I get back in – sorry I am superstitious, and I am not taking any chances) teaching and hopefully adopting some freshers as my medic kids …. Let’s just hope my cooking skills improve in time for Medic Family Tea!


February 21, 2019

New Block New Me

So, the beginning of February brought the end of block three and the beginning of block four. I felt a little sad as I really had enjoyed block three and it had cemented for me the reason of why I want to pursue neuro as a career. I had really enjoyed the labs with the last one recording EEG measurements. This was basically an excuse to nap of the floor of the lab for half an hour …. I gladly took that sacrifice for my team. However, it had to come to an end and we now are on block 4…. The penultimate block before the E word of which our Anatomy Professor has already mentioned once.

I am enjoying the content of the block, but it is taking me A LOT longer to pick things up, even in the anatomy side of things which is normally my strong point. The lower limbs are surprisingly complicated but all it is going to take is some hard work and I’m sure it will click in the end …. Hopefully. It is proving to be a weirdly entertaining block however as so far in lectures we have been standing up holding our own bums (demonstrating gluteus maximus), dragging each other standing up (demonstrating the sliding filament theory) and everyone is performing weird movements in the anatomy labs. Something tells me that I will be able to tell if any block 4 questions are being answered in the exam room.

We also had to submit our first written work this week which was our community day reflections. I found this hard because I had to essentially reflect on a conversation I had with a patient as part of a group. If you have ever tried to reflect on a conversation before you can probably see where I am coming from. It felt strange and for someone who must work at communication more than most (I have Asperger’s) it was a challenge to know what to write about. However, there was plenty of support and I did my best so hopefully it gets a pass. We also started another written assignment this week which was the case reports. Essentially, we have to find a patient and write their presentation up and submit it to our clinical tutor. We had an SDL session for this where we could go around the hospital at will, find a ward, find a patient and write up what we find. Terrifying for a first year. What if the ward does not want to let us in? What if the patient is too complicated? What if no doctors want anything to do with you? These were all the thoughts racing through my mind on Tuesday but Maariyah and I braved it alone and ended up on the cardio ward. The nurse we met was lovely and thankfully Maariyah did most of the initial talking as I was too nervous to put words into my own mouth. I relaxed a bit after we found a patient and I enjoyed looking through notes to build up what we knew about the patient and getting to talk and examine a patient without supervision. I’ve said it before but moments like this where all the work you do outside of the hospital comes into its own. It is also nice for the old self esteem as you realise how much you have picked up (even though you think you haven’t learnt anything) since you started.

I am also making sure I take a break from medicine and it’s in the form of my own blog that I am rather proud of. It’s developing slowly and I also use it to take stock on what I have done every week by writing a bit of a weekly summary. I looked at week one the other day and (after getting over how excited I was) it really did hit home how far we have come since those naive days in September. I also got some messages this week from people I had given advice to throughout the application cycles saying they had got into Warwick! This really did make me happy as I liked the fact, I may have had some small input to helping them.

Looking towards the E word, I really do need to start learning the drugs list (sorry WMS I haven’t started it yet). However, I had a bit of an epiphany moment when I woke up this morning (because what else are Saturday mornings for) and I realised that I know most of the drugs by what their packaging looks like as I worked as a dispenser for over a year, so why not put that to use?!

It’s the little things that keep you going ….


February 04, 2019

Second Community day and Conferencing

Block three has been chugging along and it is my favourite block of the year. The anatomy content has been sticking in my head and I am enjoying learning more about the anatomy and physiology of neuroscience, building on what I had been taught in my undergraduate degree. A couple of us have also been contacting a neurosurgeon up at UHCW with the possibility of observing/ working on projects with them.

We also had our second community day. This time we had a paediatric patient which I was excited about as I know I want to go into paediatrics when I specialise. We had some problems initially as the area we were visiting had no signal and all we had was a rough map of the area to find the house, so we were touring the area before we finally found it. It was a different experience to last time as we were not talking to the patient but rather to the parent. It was slightly hard as we only found out about the condition 5 minutes before we arrived, so we were doing some quick thinking as we walked up to the house. The parent was knowledgeable about the condition, so it was easier for us to interview them and we got a lot of information out of the day. The child was also sweet and shy at first but, after lapping the living room on their toy car several times, they gained the confidence to come up to us and show us their hands as they related to the condition they had. It’s difficult to describe this case as it is rare so could be easily identifiable.

We must present our cases next week, so this is going to be something we must keep an eye on. We also visited the local primary school and we all had flashbacks to when the only stress in life was who you were going to line up with to go to assembly. The school was fantastic, and we were told about the adjustments that schools make for children with needs and policies regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable children. The teachers were lovely and the headmaster offered us the opportunity to go back for some experience or to work with the school. I was excited about this as I want to run a STEM outreach day at some point and it would be interesting to look at the affect of outreach days on children’s wellbeing.

We also visited the hospital to talk to a nurse about pre-natal screening in which we were told about the pathways used when a mother is identified as Hep-B / HIV positive. They also highlighted a new test coming into the NHS which will screen the baby’s DNA that is circulating in the mother’s blood which is safer than taking a sample of the amniotic fluid and more accurate than taking measurements from a scan. We finished at 3.00pm and due to some problems with the roads we could go straight to campus, so I was able to get some work done before my student seminar in the evening.

This term has given me a bit more breathing room to start thinking about how to build up my portfolio and as someone who wants to go into surgery, I want to make sure I stand out from the crowd. The surgical society put on a “Women in surgery” evening where some surgeons from the local trusts came and talked to us about their careers. They were very keen to highlight the point of finding a good mentor and not letting a career in surgery become a choice between being a surgeon or having a family.

This weekend I also took a trip down to London along with a couple of other Warwick Meds to a conference on Careers in Neurosurgery. This is a field I have dreamt of going into after reading Henry Marsh’s book in Year 13. Henry Marsh was meant to be at the event, but he was ill on the day so could not attend. However, it was still a great day and I picked up a lot of tips and information about how to build up my portfolio to stand a good chance of getting an interview. There were some other presentations about the tools used in Neurosurgery and the ones that are being developed. One memorable one was the AI camera which could analyse the procedure and tell the surgeon when it was time to move onto the next step. It wasn’t perfect but it could help to train new surgeons and I am watching the world of AI as this is going to become a more commonplace in hospitals as we progress through our career.


January 21, 2019

Let loose on the wards

So, it finally happened! We have had our first bedside teaching and it definitely lived up to my expectations. I am at UHCW for my first year and have my bedside teaching on Tuesday afternoons, which is a slight pain in the ass for parking at UHCW in the afternoon. However, Matt and I managed by sheer luck to grab a space within 40 minutes of getting there. We headed in and made it with 5 minutes to spare before the lecture welcoming us into the trust. We were told about what is expected of us, how to sign in and general admin before we were introduced to our consultants.

My consultant is lovely and approachable which is something I had been worried about as you hear a lot about the nature of consultants to hide away from medical students. So, I was happy to have an approachable teacher who was keen to get us straight on the wards. We went to the Medical Decisions Unit where patients are transferred from A&E and within 10 minutes, I was meeting my first patient.

I was nervous because this was all new and I did feel a bit sorry for the patient who suddenly had 4 medical students descend on them, plus a clinical fellow who was supervising us, so it got cramped in the cubicle but we got through. We carried out a history and some clinical examinations under the supervision of the clinical fellow who was writing down our findings into the patient’s actual notes! I carried out an abdominal and respiratory exam and it really hit home why we learn clinical skills every Friday. It is easy for it to become out of context but putting these skills into use allowed me to put Friday lectures into context.

After we finished, we were sent away to discuss treatment plans and differential diagnoses amongst ourselves and it really hit home why we are doing what we are doing. I’ve said it before, it's easy to get lost amongst the hours of lectures, workshops and self-study but when we get to put our knowledge into a clinical setting when there is a real life involved, it makes it all seem worthwhile.

I had a bit of an idiot moment at the end of the day as I spent 20 minutes trying to get into a locker that wasn’t mine. I mistakenly had written my name on the wrong locker and only by curiosity I had discovered my mistake – I think I need more caffeine in my life!

Coming back round to the academic life, we have started block three and it is as interesting and brilliant to learn as I thought it would be. I come from a neuroscience background so I had been virtually pining for some brains. It’s not easy and there is a lot to learn but it’s nice to hear familiar words again and I feel a bit more at home on my turf now. We are seeing brain MRI scans virtually every day and I am taking the opportunity to transfer my new knowledge onto my own brain MRI scan that I had done a couple of years ago.

My favourite lecture so far must be the one we had on consciousness. I was expecting the philosophical approach that I had sat through in my undergraduate degree. I was so wrong. We had a consultant neurosurgeon from UHCW (so I was in slight awe to begin with) and he approached it from the GSC score (how we assess how “awake” someone is). He was funny and gave a lot of insight into the scale so I took a lot away from the lecture. Neurosurgery is a career I am determined to pursue having completed two weeks as part of my pre-med work experience. I find the brain fascinating and to see it for the first time after the dura (a covering of the brain) was pulled back is an experience I will never forget. As you can imagine, I was inspired just by having a neurosurgeon in the room.

So far Term 2 has been intense but I have enjoyed it and I am on top of my work for once! I know these 5 weeks will give me the confidence boost I need with the exams drawing slowly nearer. On Sunday, we went as a flat to the local watering hole where I watched three of my flatmates devour 50 chicken wings between them before playing the QI board game. Well… there are worse ways to spend a Sunday evening.

Did you know that Scotland won the first ever elephant polo championships? Neither did I until 10pm on Sunday …!


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Our Med Life blogs are all written by current WMS MB ChB students. Although these students are paid to blog, we don’t tell our bloggers what to say. All these posts are their thoughts, opinions and insights. We hope these posts help you discover a little more about what life as a med student at Warwick is really like.

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