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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!


June 12, 2019

If you need me, I’ll be sleeping.


Exams are finally over, and with that last sound of the buzzer marking the end of the OSCE station, I could feel the biggest grin stretching across my face. I have made it past the exam period!!

It has not been easy, and I can safely say this was the most stressful and exhausting two weeks of my entire life (and that includes my dissertation!). We had our first exam on Monday 3rd June. The SAQ. This had been the paper I was most worried about as it relied on us knowing the knowledge well enough to write it down. I had practised short answer questions over and over again. The exam was ok! There were some questions in which I did not know the answer to but I tried to logic it out and come to the best conclusion I could offer.

I was pretty happy afterwards, a couple of us went to the Duck on campus to have some food as a treat and just to have a break before hitting the books again. I walked back up to the MTC with Dan and we spotted a Heron walking around in the Tocil lake, apparently, they are meant to signify that a change is coming in your life and you need to embrace it. I hope that is a message of good change.

Day 2 and we hit the first MCQ paper. This. Was. Ridiculously. Hard. I was trying my best to apply my knowledge but I just felt deflated coming out of the room. Thankfully, I had an email saying I needed to pick up a parcel from the post room. It turns out my best friend from my old uni had sent me an exam survival package including hot chocolate, sweets and a book. It was the best pick me up I could have asked for. I tried to go back to the MTC to do some work but I was just frustrated at myself from the day’s events and I could not take anything in so I decided to go home and just fall into bed watching random videos on YouTube about asthma and ECG’s until I fell asleep.

Day 3, the final written! I was in such a good mood when I woke up. Today was the last day I was going to have to sit at a desk for a while, and I could not wait. I was still a bit apprehensive as I was worried about what was coming up based on the exam the day before. However, this exam was so much better, I could piece together the puzzle for most questions and others, I just had a good stab at.

Coming out of that exam was a huge breath of fresh air, I was ridiculously happy it was all over. The sun was shining and all of us headed to the Duck after to celebrate the end of writtens. It was a fantastic afternoon and I went to bed with a massive grin on my face. I had stopped worrying about how it had gone and instead I was just basking in the fact the exams were over.

Thursday arrived and this signalled the beginning of 6 days of “Hello my name is Abbie, I am a first year Warwick Medical Student”. The OSCE’s had arrived. We practised the exams on each other constantly, so much so I can probably do the Cranial Nerve exams backwards. This, however, did not stop me forgetting to ask the patients name and date of birth at the beginning of each station (facepalm). I am not sure how the OSCE’s went, it could go either way, the same with the writtens. I am just ridiculously happy it’s all over; I have not stopped smiling. I am looking forward to getting up tomorrow and doing what I want, when I want, or I could even not get up at all! (Though, that won’t happen, I am not someone to spend all day in one spot, I can barely last an hour in a lecture!).

The next two weeks will be about relaxing and enjoying any scrap of sun that comes my way. We have summer ball on Friday which I am really looking forward to and I am popping home to get a bit of respite from uni. The results are on the 24th so I guess I will find out how I did then, just keep your fingers crossed for me guys!


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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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