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May 14, 2019

Mr Marsh – Can I have a photo please?

There has been a surprising amount that has gone on these past two weeks. We are in the final week of block 5 (gulp) and today we have our final CBL of Phase 1. We have decided we are going to go through a children’s party of sorts and I have supplied choc ices and a cake with a 7 on the top as we are group 7. I must admit, I am happy that CBL has come to an end, as all I have just wanted to revise but it is important that we keep to some sort of normality as after all, block 5 is just as important.

I feel like some bits on information are sticking but I still feel really overwhelmed with how much we must do. I am really nervous for the unknown, but I guess I have just got to keep going. It’s only three more weeks. I still struggle with the drugs list and SOC/POP due to the vast amount of information but I like anatomy and I love Block three so I guess I have just got to remind myself that I do have some strengths!

I have also met one of my medical heroes recently by the name of Mr Henry Marsh. I read his book “Do No Harm” when I was in year 13 and having no hope of getting into medicine with my grades. His book gripped me and since then I have wanted to pursue a career in Neurosurgery. I even got to experience 2 weeks with one of his trainees! Mr Marsh was lovely and a pleasant surprise was finding out he was a Paediatric Neurosurgeon, my goal. It was fascinating listening to him talk and I was sitting there with a massive grin on my face. There were also a couple of Warwick people there too and one of whom I share a love for everything Neuro related, and we were talking about how much we were looking forward to it before. Mr Marsh talked about his love of tools and his development from medical student to one of the best Neurosurgeons in the country. It is just as inspiring as Mr Marsh was technically a GEM student like us at Warwick. He originally studied PPE at Oxford and worked as a hospital porter before pursing his career in medicine. I was incredible to finally meet him, and he even signed my brain light and I have now got a photo of me with him on my desk to get me through this revision period. I had been joking with one of the lecturers here that I would probably get a restraining order if I ever met him from being such a fan so I emailed them to say that police intervention was not needed!

We have also had a lecture on AC1 which was slightly terrifying to think we are nearing it. However, it was also a bit weird as the state I am in, I often doubt if I will make it! I am looking forward to next year if I do make it though, I am looking forward to being able to direct my own learning a bit more and being able to have a bit more freedom with what I learn (to an extent). I also really want to carry on the Warwick Student Seminars for the new first years as I found I love teaching and supporting those around me. I have just got to get there first!

We have another open day before exams so I’m meeting up with Jordan again. It is on my to do list to re-vamp the presentation, so it is suitable for a two-person delivery. The next blog I write will be the last before my exams…. And that is terrifying.


April 30, 2019

Harnesses, friends and cups of tea

I feel like it was three seconds ago I was writing my last blog. Exam fever really has set in now and I am trying my best not to get too wound up but it is hard! However, I have discovered a new outlet. Warwick have just opened a new sports centre which has an incredible climbing wall. A lot of people here enjoy climbing so I thought I would give it a go. It was fantastic. I was out of the MTC and had two hours where all I thought about was where my feet and hands were going to go. I am having to learn the ropes (literally) as I need to learn how to tie the knots to climb but the auto-belays are just as good, and I am enjoying pushing myself up the walls and letting off a bit of steam. However, the new sports hub means that the wall has moved from 30 seconds outside my door to a 10-minute bike ride. I guess it just means I can have a few extra biscuits!

Outside of medicine and climbing, I didn’t get the internship. I was slightly disappointed, but you win some and lose some, I guess! I have found another opportunity that I managed to apply to over the weekend thanks to one of my neuro tutors who wrote a reference for me over the weekend! Thank you Dawn! I am excited about it but I am not going to pin my hopes up as I know its competitive, but I guess so is medicine in general! I am also still waiting for the results of my application to become a resident tutor but I won’t find out till June so it is going to be a long wait.

Revision has been the majority of every single one of my days but thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends around me to get through it all. This weekend we have been laughing together about insignificant things such as the inability to work for 20 minutes without talking to each other. We have our own spots, make each other cups of tea (Sam has re-named me his tea wife) and share resources around including yesterday when I was slightly on the manic side and I decided my new technique to remember the basal ganglia pathway was so good, it needed to be shared with everyone. I was basically wandering around the MTC repeating this mnemonic over and over again to everyone I saw which was a surprising amount for the weekends! I am not mad. Yet. We ended up heading to the dirty duck after a hard day studying to have a bit of light relief in the form of burgers and a couple of drinks.

One of the second years Ollie has also been giving me small glimpses of next year. We both are interested in Neurosurgery and Ollie is getting to watch a lot of neurosurgery, so I get updates about “open craniotomies” and “optical canal meningiomas” whilst I am sitting here doing Anki, growing slowly mad. It is nice though, as it makes these exams seem a little less like an impossible mountain to climb and more of a marathon. Hard but not impossible. I can’t wait to be full time in hospital and being able to go down to the Neurosurgery ward to experience these surgeries for myself and hopefully experience some Neuroradiology which is also growing as an interest of mine. Henry Marsh is also in Stratford this Friday, so I am hoping to go and see him as he has been such a big influence in my medical career.

One of my friends from my undergraduate days also recently got an offer to study here next year and I am not sure who was more excited, her or me! It will be nice to have a fellow UCLan grad here and even more importantly, a fellow Neuro! It’s becoming real now that we will soon be taking this exam and hopefully passing into second year, I can’t wait to see patients. I just need to get through these next few weeks! Someone send coffee ... A lot of it .... Please.


April 23, 2019

Block 5 … Babies and hormones

So, we are officially back from Easter break and I can officially say that it felt like we had 4 seconds off rather than 4 weeks. I was worried about the atmosphere when everyone else returned but it has been really nice and everyone is building each other up and reminding everyone that making sure they have a break is just as important as learning pharmacology. I have also discovered I have grown rather attached to my spot in the MTC computer room as someone was sat in it the other day and I just ended up wandering around until they moved so I could work…. I wonder if a post-it note claiming my spot will work?

I am enjoying Block 5 so far which is our child development and pregnancy block. The physiology is actually going ok for once and I am enjoying my lectures. We have Jamie Roebuck back for anatomy this term and I think he has provided the most memorable moments such as the “abseiling testicle” and demonstrating what the lithotomy position was on the front bench of the lecture theatre. We have also had our block lead Dawn Cannon who has taken us through contraception meaning there was a line-up of 5 students holding condoms at the front of the lecture hall describing them to us. Block 5 is going to be eventful. I have also had the joy of being a mother for one lecture by holding a plastic doll whilst taking notes, much more difficult that you would first think.

My favourite lecture so far has been on development as we talked about the teenage brain which is one of the topics of Neuroscience I love more than anything. I first got interested in the world of Neuro by a book which detailed all the aspects of Teenage Neuroscience, so it’s a topic of which I am ridiculously passionate about and could talk about it all day (though I think everyone would hate me for that !!).

It’s a busy time as I have also applied for a WMS internship which will be developing a new peer teaching programme and a booklet for the new first years. I had my interview the other day so … fingers crossed! I have also applied to be a resident life tutor which is a live-in student who helps the first years with their time living in halls. The role looks incredible as I get to be the friendly face for the first years to come to with problems but it also means I have to deal with things like noise complaints and encouraging the freshers to not be typical freshers and keep the kitchen areas at least liveable! I am waiting to hear if I have got an interview but it does mean I currently have a lot of balls being juggled at the moment!

My scheme that I set up over the holiday has taken well. I get a little wave of excitement when I hear people taking mugs or using blankets. I am really happy that people have deemed it as useful and I hope to build on it in the future. I have also just taken on a role in Neuroscience Society working on the outreach and engagement which I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into.

The first open day went really well and I enjoyed meeting all the premeds. It felt so weird as I was in their position just over a year and a half ago. I still have my pen from my Warwick open day and the pack we were given. I was slightly nervous giving my talk but once we got rolling I was in my element. It reminded me just how much I love public speaking and I even got a couple of laughs on the day!

I am a bit stressed. I found that trying to get to sleep at night is proving to be a mission and I am struggling to completely switch off. I am worried how this will develop as we get closer to exams but I guess it’s something that is affecting everyone. However, the nights are drawing out and campus is looking as beautiful as ever which makes late night studying that much easier. Cycling past the lake means I have met the newest arrivals of some goose chicks. I wish I could show you a picture to show just how fluffy they are!

Anyway, back to work I suppose!


March 29, 2019

Highlighters, Blue pens and Common Room Heaters

This is it. The big revision break is here. I am happy to say it is going well as far. I have got myself into a nice routine and even discovered I am a bit of an early bird starting at 8am every day. I have also found that I work well in the common room but it is freezing in here, so I have kidnapped a heater from the CBL rooms and I now am as toasty as …. Well … Toast? I am also finding (rather oddly) that moving round the common room day to day is helping me to revise and not procrastinate so I am making full use of have the entire room to myself.

It’s going ok and I am pleased with my progress for once! I have decided to hit three blocks over Easter as I wanted to take things a slowly rather than trying to cram four blocks in four weeks without a break, so I will tackle Block Three (my favourite block) with Block 5. I am hoping that will work, as I would rather get a good breadth of information rather than trying to work myself to the bare bones and burn out before exams. I am a lot calmer than I was last week, I think this is because I am finally able to review and learn the things that we didn't have time for when in the blocks. You have to get used to taking in content quickly as you are hit with new information every day, and I worked out that we have had 21 solid weeks of new content since September. It sounds scary, but it's all coming together, and I can finally see the connections between lectures so it's making it a lot easier to learn. You just need to keep in mind that the human body is an intricate puzzle and you have to see the bigger picture to understand how each part works.

Not much has gone on here apart from me walking into the MTC at 8am to start revision and leaving between 5pm and 8pm to go home and collapse on my bed. However, I did pop back up to Preston for a couple of days over the last week which is where I completed my undergraduate degree. It was nice to see my old lecturers and catch up with my old course mates and of course my best friends. It’s important to keep in touch with your non-medic friends during the course as it can get lonely when you're in week 7 out of 10 and the only people that you talk to are other medics. I got to go into my old SU bar and have a pizza of which I had been craving for a while, and in the evening, we headed to a “place of entertainment” of which I had missed a lot and sung every song that came on at the top of my lungs. It was amazing to catch up with them and even though I haven't seen them since July, it felt like I had never been away. It was good to get out of Coventry and away from my textbooks and now feel a little bit less like a walking textbook, albeit a rather blank textbook.

There has also been the introduction of a #MedStudentTwitter this week on Twitter so I have been following it as part of my revision/ procrastination breaks and people have been sharing tips on clinical learning and revision for exams. It is a nice way to be reminded that you are part of a wider community of future doctors and that we are all banding together to support each other through the intense world of medical school.

I'm looking forward to the open day next week as I am doing the student life talk for the incoming perspective med students. This feels a bit deja vu as I used to do the student life talks for my old university in front of more than 500 people so, it will be nice to do what I loved. I know the university are overtaking the common room for the open day so, I guess I am going to have to find somewhere else to make a revision nest in. I don't mind I guess these people will be in their first year when I'm in my third, which is quite a scary thought!

I have procrastinated enough writing this blog……. back to Gas Laws and Tubular Flow it is!


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 !


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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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