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July 19, 2019

Visiting GOSH

I decided that despite a year of intense studying, I had not quite had enough of sitting in a lecture theatre. I had been lucky enough to win a free ticket to GOSH Summer School and having passed first year, I was excited to get on a train to pop home for a couple of days so I could commute to London. However, come 8:50am on the Monday morning, I was not enjoying the crush on the train.

I got to GOSH for 9:15am and picked up my name badge and they had changed it to say second year which was lovely! I ended up chatting to a medical student from Vienna before we had our first session of the day from Prof. Fertleman about her life as a paediatric consultant. I really enjoyed her talk as she was lively, and you could see the passion she had for her job. I also found out later she likes to terrorise the junior docs after she ran after one of them on their first day shouting “They are stealing the notes, they are stealing the notes” before catching up with them and saying “Only joking, I’m your consultant, let’s start the rounds, shall we?”. I think I would have needed a week off after that scare if it had been me.

We also had a couple of talks from surgeons at GOSH which was my original career plan. The surgeries to correct birth defects were fascinating to listen to and I could see myself coming away from the brain and to the pioneering surgeries in this field. This defect away from my norm surprised me as I was pretty much set on my career path! We also had a talk from Prof. Paolo De Coppi about his work in regenerative medicine. He was part of the team that created the first stem cell tracheal transplant and the recipient is still doing well two years later. This again was incredible to learn about as these Stem Cell transplants will become the norm for us as we progress through our career.

We were also given a lot of careers advice through dedicated careers lectures and a career fair. The idea of an F3 year between qualifying and starting specialty training kept being repeated to us over the course of the three days so it is something I need to look into. The careers fair was useful because we were able to talk to consultants without the traditional student-consultant barrier and I got some insight into different specialties which has made me think about what I want to do when I qualify. One of these was PICU (paediatric intensive care unit). The consultant was lovely and was open and honest when we asked him about why he has chosen PICU over NICU. I was also able to chat with the professor who had run a session for us on the first day in which my group won the presentations and a GOSH textbook! I was chatting to him about getting into research and what consultants expect from their medical students when it comes to helping out on projects in hospital. He was lovely and told me to just get out there and do it. It did boost my confidence a bit because being in a lecture theatre where you are the only one who didn’t get straight A’s at A Level, you can feel a bit like the underdog. I also had a conversation with one of the Neurology consultants at GOSH about how best to prepare for applying to work in the neurosciences and the answer was what I was expecting: Get involved in research and show dedication. He seemed receptive when I was talking about my undergraduate degree so I am hoping that is a arrow in my quiver already.

After our careers fair we also had a GOSH arts session where we had 44 medical students standing up all singing, and I have to say for a bunch of people who have seen the inside of a hospital more than their own homes over the past couple of years, the harmonies were really good!

We also had a small drinks party after the second day. This was held on top of GOSH hospital and you could see out all over London. It was a beautiful day and we were being shown buildings such as the royal collages around GOSH. It was a lovely evening just getting to talk with other med students from different universities. I even bumped into a F1 from George Elliot! I also got talking with a soon to be F1 about being a medic at Glastonbury and he was telling me about how they managed to get discounted training though having a large group so I’ll be looking into getting a couple of Warwick guys down!

Overall the three days were invaluable to me. The best advice I received all week though from the medical director at GOSH was “you shouldn’t ever change yourself to suit the job you are going for, instead be bold and be the person to be different”, so I guess surgery has a quirky, excitable medical student heading their way!


July 11, 2019

Babies, sleep deprivation and festivals!

Last Friday I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Warwick MB ChB Education conference, where all of the staff involved in education at the Medical School attend and share ideas. I was there presenting a poster I had been involved in with a third-year medical student and one of the faculty who teaches on the course. We were presenting a method of teaching professionalism to medical students and the poster was well received by the attendees, with lots of interest in our work. It was quite surreal to be at a conference with all the people who are usually teaching me, but everyone was very welcoming to the students who were there and keen to hear our ideas about how teaching on the course could be improved. There were also lots of new ideas about how to innovate in teaching medical students, which as a student who is very keen on being involved in teaching, were of great interest to me as to how I could improve my own teaching skills. For example, one of the anatomy teachers was showing us a method called “Do It, draw it”, which is about using visual cues such as drawing structures and ideas and acting them out as an aid to remembering them. I found this fascinating as an idea for how to teach complex ideas to students and is something I will try when I next get the chance to teach. Overall, the conference really helped confirm for me that I want to be very involved in medical education as I progress throughout my career and has given me some practical ideas as to how to improve my own teaching skills.

This week my clinical partner and I had our first shift on a labour ward, which also happened to also be my first ever night shift! It was slightly surreal turning up to hospital at 7:30pm, to get changed into scrubs and meet our assigned midwife for the evening. This shift gave us an introduction to childbirth, and we were attached to a midwife who took us through the labouring process. The time went quicker than I expected, although I did start to flag at about 4am (nothing a bagel and sweets couldn’t sort). In the end I managed to see a natural birth and assisted delivery (where the doctors help mum in getting the baby out). I was hugely thankful to the mums I was able to be with at such a stressful time. It was a very special experience (albeit tense and dramatic at times) and I loved forming a bond with the mums, willing them on and reassuring them throughout the process. Both births ended well, with two perfectly formed babies, and I even got a chance to cuddle one of them for a while whilst mum got some rest (call me Uncle Jordan). I was exhausted by the time 8am came around, having been awake for a straight 24 hours in total, but it was totally worth it for the experience.

I managed to get some rest on Friday, and then Saturday I was up nice and early again to head down to London. In the summer, I help out as a first aider at festivals, which is a great way to gain clinical experience (and also get paid to help buy all of those coffees which are a necessity as a medical student). While I’m there, I basically just help out with people who have accidents or are taken unwell at the festival. The company I work for creates a really supportive atmosphere, with senior nurses, paramedics and doctors on hand to help out with any patients you aren’t 100% sure with, so it is a great way to cut your clinical teeth and work the diagnostic muscles. I saw some pretty nasty trauma cases and injuries, as well as a fair share of people who had just had a bit much to drink! I’m sure it will be great experience when I come to my A+E placements in third year. Having had a great weekend with more than a few interesting cases, I ended up getting home at 1am Monday morning, ready to sleep and then start the week afresh. No rest for the wicked!


July 02, 2019

“Sharp scratch!”

During the last fortnight my clinical partner and I started our new GP placement. In contrast to the previous two surgeries we have been placed in which have been in more rural and suburban settings, our new placement is in the heart of Coventry city centre. It has been really eye opening to see the difference in patients, cases and the overall running of the surgery in this more diverse, busier setting. The patients we saw on our GP day tended to be younger and present with more acute illnesses, rather than follow-ups and monitoring of long-term conditions.

This week we also got the opportunity to spend time with two community midwives (and lots of cute babies of course!) If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really have much idea of the world of community midwifery but it was really interesting to see all that goes into pregnancy and post-natal care. I had the chance to get hands on and palpate the babies whilst they were still inside. Handily I was able to practice on the midwife I was shadowing as she was expecting too and kindly let me practice. The experience was really good fun and I left both days having learnt a lot (and feeling like I need a baby in my life – watch this space!).

I have also had my clinical skills session on giving injections and blood glucose testing. We were shown how to carry out several types of injections including intramuscular (for injections such as the flu vaccine) subcutaneous (for injections such as insulin delivery) and transdermal (for administering local anaesthetics). As for blood glucose testing, I had an unfair advantage over the majority of my colleagues as my partner is Type 1 diabetic. It felt quite exciting being able to practice these procedures and whilst they seem relatively simple it’s important, we are able to carry out these injections properly as they will be key skills in our day to day lives as doctors! I also learned the correct time to say “sharp scratch” when popping the needle in to distract the patient.

The clinical skills sessions in second year have probably been some of my favourite parts of the course as we get to learn the skills we will need to look after people, rather than just reading about things! Injection technique was our last clinical skill session for Year 2, and we have covered the core skills required of doctors – taking blood, putting in cannulas, acute assessments, life support, urinary catheterisation, administering oxygen, blood gases, blood glucose and finally now injections. After our assessments, we are now signed off as being able to go out and practice these skills under close supervision, which means that if the chance comes along, I will be able to have a go!


June 25, 2019

The results are in….

I PASSED!!! I actually passed! I am now a second-year medical student. Typing those words is so surreal. I honestly didn’t think I would get here! I had basically convinced myself I had failed this year, I kept re-guessing all my answers and was a right state when we reached results morning. The results were due to be released at 10am so by 9:55am I was a wreck. I was just sat slumped against my bed nervously watching the clock tick over to 10am. I had to physically talk myself into opening the link with our results. I was terrified. I eventually made my thumb move the 1cm to my screen and opened the link:

“Congratulations, you have been deemed satisfactory for this set of examinations”.

I gasped. I read the line over and over again. I had passed. I was a second year! In complete honesty, I still think the med school are going to send out an email saying they had mixed up the results. I keep staring at the page as if it is playing tricks on me. In fact, I have it as my lock screen just so I can keep checking it’s not a dream. It is silly to dramatize this but I had fully convinced myself that I was never going to pass first time, that I was totally reliant on the re-takes.

I called my mum crying down the phone and I am not sure who was happier! Now I have to think about what I want to do over summer. I’ve been offered a place in GOSH summer school which helps students wanting to go into paediatrics and now I know I don’t have to re-take, I am really looking forward to that opportunity! I won a £100 ticket by simply re-tweeting their tweet, twitter is very handy!

We also had our summer ball which was before results meaning we could all relax without the weight of results looming over our heads. It was a fantastic evening and it was nice seeing my year all dressed up and looking amazing having had some sleep since exams ended. We happened to have it in the same venue as we had our welcome ball in which was a nice little circle to complete the year off! It was nice to celebrate with members from the other years as well as they had been as bigger part of our year as the lecturers here. We got a photo of our student seminar team that has to be one of my favourites here at med school. I got home quite late/early with a huge smile on my face knowing I had nothing to do the next day.

We also had our final open day of the year and it was a bittersweet day. It was lovely to meet everyone, but we were also working with Dr Roebuck in clinical skills who we had recently discovered was leaving us. Dr Roebuck’s lectures are infamous, and we are going to miss him next year, he has been a huge help to us all explaining concepts in the clearest way possible. I don’t think I am ever going to forget the human broad ligament or the lectures with chocolate, skittles, drinking competitions (don’t worry it was squash)!

I still can’t believe I have passed. I’m sitting here, still not believing it! The new first years will soon be upon Warwick for their offer holder’s day. I remember mine as if it was yesterday and I even found the running order in my room when I went home. It feels amazing to think I can actually start planning for next year now such as medic families, student seminars and neuroscience society without having to add the work “if” in front of my sentences. I want to run a science demo competition next year as it was something I loved back at my old university so I need to set the wheels in motion!

I guess now, it’s time for a complete break. I need to give my old brain a bit of a rest and to have some much-needed therapy time with my pets! My friend is working the fridge festival in Edinburgh, so I am hoping to pop up to Scotland to experience it! I am also watching Andrew Scott in the Old Vic over summer as well which is a small pick me up I bought before exams and cheers me up every time I remember I am going! A huge congrats to all my year, whatever the result, we got to the end! Here’s to an incredible summer and a slightly more relaxed second year!


June 18, 2019

Bones, Bones, Bones

Over the last two weeks I have been very busy finishing off my protocol for my research project for third year. So, at the beginning of third year, we have this module called Student Selected Component 2, which is where we pick a research project and undertake it. As part of this, we have to write what’s called a protocol, which is basically a roadmap as to how we will undertake our project. My project is to do with Cremations in the UK and the role General Practitioners play in this process, which is slightly unusual! I am excited to start my project as it is the first piece of research I have done where the idea and execution will be entirely led by me. Slightly terrifying, but exciting too!

We also started Core Clinical Education 3, for which time period I am on placement with an Orthopaedic surgeon (bone surgeon) and also attached to maternity. The block started with a bank holiday, which is never a bad start, and then I was helping out on the Warwick Medical School open day, where myself and the other student blogger Abbie were giving a presentation on being a student here. I think this is a hugely important part of the open day and also important for students who want to come and study here. I attended an open day when I was applying to Warwick for Medicine and the presentation from the students was far and away my favourite part of the day – hearing from current students about what the course is actually like is so important when deciding if it for you. I would recommend that anyone who wants to apply to come here apply to come to the open day if you can as you will get a real insight into what Medical School is all about.

This week I also attended some clinical sessions with the orthopaedic surgeon I am attached to for the duration of this block. Orthopaedic surgeons deal with a huge range of issues, including disorders of the bones (fractures, dislocations), muscles and tendons (including sprains and tears). I went to fracture clinic on Wednesday, which is where people who think they may have fractured a bone may come to have their bones X-rayed and reviewed by one of the surgeons, who may recommend surgery or bed rest. Our consultant is amazing and really keen for us to get involved with everything, so we were sent off to talk to some patients and do some examinations. Then we presented back to the consultant and we had a look at the X-ray together, where we had to have a guess what was going on. This was really fun and was almost like being in a smaller (bone related) A+E department.

On Thursday, we attended theatre with our consultant, and were told to “scrub in”, which is where you wash your hands multiple times in a specific way and put on a surgical gown and sterile surgical gloves. This was our first time doing this so it was a little scary, but luckily, we had a friendly scrub nurse to help us and advise if we were doing everything right. Once scrubbed in, you aren’t allowed to touch anything, or even scratch your nose, so you have to distract yourself to avoid being driven mad by those little itches! Luckily, we had plenty of distractions as it was a large operation so we were able to get involved and help hold things and even help close the wound with one of the trainee surgeons (under very close supervision). I had never thought I would enjoy surgery that much, but it was great fun and very satisfying to be getting stuck in and fixing the patients problem there and then. I still don’t know what type of doctor I want to be – but you never know, I may go into Orthopaedics!


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About our student blogs

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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