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October 03, 2019

I passed! Bring on Phase III

I passed! I’m officially a third-year medical student! I found out my results last Monday and I am so over the moon to have passed my exams and have moved forwards into the next stage of my training. Third and Fourth year are grouped together into one “phase”, which the med school call “Phase III”. This is the final phase of the Warwick MBChB before we (hopefully) qualify as doctors. The way Phase III works is that we have an 8 week block called Student Selected Component 2 which is a research project, followed by 8 x 8 week blocks of “Specialist Clinical Placements” where we rotate around various specialities, including areas such as Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Orthopaedics etc. These are our final placements before we enter the real world, so to speak and go on to become qualified doctors. It feels surreal to say that I am entering the final part of the course when it only feels like yesterday I was packing up and getting ready to move to Warwick to start a new phase of my life.

The first part of Phase III is Student Selected Component 2 which is our chance to complete a research project and develop the research skills required of all doctors. This 8-week block is very self-directed but the first week was a week full of taught sessions relating to our chosen project. My project is interviewing funeral directors and producing a thematic analysis of their experiences of arranging for GPs to complete cremation paperwork. Thus, my sessions were around qualitative research, how to conduct interviews and producing a write up from this. As well as a chance to do research, the block is also a chance to recover slightly from the length of second year and engage in some extra-curricular activities such as teaching or attending conferences.

This week started more slowly with me emailing out the Funeral Directors I want to interview and finding books and articles for my literature review. It feels slightly odd to not be on placement after so long of going to hospital, but it is also a welcome feeling to enjoy being a normal student for a while, being mostly based on campus and at the library. It means that I can start going to the gym again and catching up with friends again. It’s a slower pace of life, but a welcome one.


August 15, 2019

Signing off for Summer

What. A.Year.

It’s flown by and it only feels like 5 seconds ago I was walking in through the doors of WMS and collecting my orange lanyard. I still can’t believe that I’ve managed to learn as much as I have learnt and got through the exams. If you had shown to me all the work I would be doing over this year and how much I would have to learn back in September, I probably would have frozen to the spot with fear.

Apart from the academia, I have learnt so much about how I need to approach next year. For starters, I need to take time out. I’ve spent too much time glued to my desk in the MTC before exams and I was most certainly burnt out by the time we reached the end of OSCEs. I want to get involved in running student seminars, anatomy days, physiology days and take time out for climbing and friends. I also want to get involved in research up at UHCW and start to build on my CV and surgical experience in the field I want to follow.

Second year also brings about the arrival of SSC1 which is a module we get to pick. There were a couple of options that took my interest, but I decided to go for Middlemarch (medical humanities) as my first choice and medical ethics as my second. This morning I found out I got my first choice of Middlemarch and I can’t wait to get into the book when it arrives tomorrow. I was surprised that I got my first choice because this is normally the most popular one so I was pretty happy when it came through. I am looking forward to it because I can potentially bring my favourite book into the coursework element of it, and I don’t need telling twice to be able to talk about “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time”.

I am also looking forward to maintaining my links with GOSH over the next year. I have been privileged enough to be invited back to sit on their summer school de-brief to discuss how to promote GOSH educational events, and hopefully be able to volunteer at their conferences in the future. This is the hospital I have always dreamed of working in. The recent separation of the twins conjoined at the cranium was just the extra motivation I need to keep going. I want to be there, at the front line of developing technologies helping to make critically ill children’s lives better. I knew I always wanted to work in the field of paediatrics, but having experienced and talked to the clinicians at GOSH, I know that’s where I need to be and where my personality and enthusiasm fits in the best.

GOSH seems to be a repeating theme with me and during the past couple of weeks, I have also been to Brain School which has been set up by a GOSH neurosurgeon. I’ve wanted to attend this event for a while but it’s difficult to get down to London with the first-year timetable so now I am back in Kent, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go. The lecture was given by Prof. Mark Wilson (who is also running trials at Warwick!) and he talked about Neuro trauma and how these patients need to be treated more specifically in the field. I also learnt a few “pub quiz” facts such as “the cranium will always contain the same amount of blood when you die no matter if you have died from haemorrhage or asphyxiation” and “the brain is the only organ that is protected against atmospheric pressure”. We were also introduced to the Good Sam app which allows a by-stander to activate an alert for a cardiac arrest to near responders and for remote responders to see the patient’s stats, just by the camera. It uses some AI technology but just by holding the camera to the patients face, it shows blood oxygen saturation and heart rate with complete accuracy. This was incredible and I can imagine how critical it will be for incidents in remote areas where it may take responders more time to arrive at the scene in comparison to an inner-city cardiac arrest.

I am now signing off for the summer. I’ve got some work with Medify to try and give me a bit of pocket money but I want this summer to be a break. This has been a hard year. I am slightly nervous abut adapting to the change of learning style in January next year from lectures to bedside teaching. I don’t deal hugely well with dramatic changes and it will be weird coming out of 4 straight years of lectures to an academic day once every two weeks. However, I am looking forward to it. There’s only so much lecture hall you can put up with! I’ll see you in September!

Good luck to the second years who are currently revising for their exams!


August 13, 2019

# NOF, #cutebabies

Last weekend I took part in the second year MOSCE day. A MOSCE is the same thing as an OSCE, but a mock/practice version. Second year is quickly coming to an end, with only 5 weeks left until our end of second year exams, one aspect of which is our OSCE (or clinical examinations). The MOSCE was kindly set up and run by current third years, and was set up like an actual mock-exam, where we rotated around various stations. In these we did various clinical skills, for example a history-taking for chest pain and then interpretation of an ECG.

In our first year OSCEs last year we would have 10 minutes to conduct a clinical examination or history (so one station would be 10 minutes taking a chest pain history). This year, however, we only have 7 minutes and we are expected to complete multiple tasks in that time (so it can be a short history, an examination and interpreting a test result all in one station). These are much closer to how we will actually be working as doctors, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting. There is a real time pressure to complete the various tasks in the time – its almost like a quiz show where the prize isn’t a holiday in Hawaii, it’s a step in the road to a medical degree!

On Monday I had my last labour shift for this year. We’ve had three labour shifts across this block and I have been lucky enough to see a variety of different births (including caesareans, natural births, forceps deliveries). I’ve been really lucky to have the chance to see so much, and I feel as though I’ve seen a good variety of cases to provide a good grounding for more detailed training on Obs & Gynaecology next year. I feel hugely privileged to have been present at these births and a very small part of seeing these babies into the wide world. Nothing beats the blues like seeing a cute baby!

Today I attended Fracture clinic with my Orthopaedic consultant. When I started this block and found out my consultant was an Orthopaedic surgeon, I was dreading having to spend time in Orthopaedics as so far on the course I really hadn’t enjoyed it at all. For whatever reason, I just didn’t find bones, tendons or muscles (the remit of Orthopaedics) interesting in the slightest. However….I have really enjoyed my time this block! This has surprised me (and probably everyone around me), but we’ve done some cool things and seen some complicated fractures and bone injuries. I am really drawn specifically to the Trauma aspect of Orthopaedics (so broken bones and car accidents etc), and look forward to hopefully spending more time in fracture clinic and in theatre soon.

Medicine sometimes feels like another language, so here is one abbreviation to help demystify things slightly. Your femur is your thigh bone, and at the top there’s a narrow area we call this the neck. In patients with osteoporosis (brittle bones), this neck is a weak area which can break with falls and accidents. For whatever reason, a fracture is written as a hashtag (#), so a fractured neck of femur is called a # Neck of Femur (#NOF for short).


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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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