Your burning questions about Med School answered….

So, I was helping out at the interviews this week and I noticed similar questions kept coming up time and time again.ย  This gave me the idea to write this blog and I have also had some questions from my Instagram page @themedbeeblog so enjoy!

Do you get much sleep?

Answer: Yes and No

This was a funny one and I honestly laughed a bit because no one has ever asked me this before so I actually had to evaluate my life at this point. The answer is yes but you will feel tired and it’s down to the individual in question. Personally, I identify as a night owl so early mornings are hard which means those 5am starts on Friday kill me. However, I get 6-8 hours sleep a night as I have learnt to go to bed when I am tired (normally 10 or 11pm). This is because it’s too late to drink coffee and I do not learn when I am tired. There are some med students who will stay up to the small hours working and then go and do another day of lectures. I can not do that. I tried it in Block one and it lasted a week. There is no reason you can’t get enough sleep at med school during the normal term (exam time may be an exception) it’s all about how you want to manage your time.

How much extra work do you have to do? or How much extra work is there?

Answer: None

You will never get asked by any lecturer “oh, have you done the work from the last lecture?”. You are an adult learner, especially at grad level where you have completed a whole degree already. No-one is there to tell you to do work and it is up to you how much you do, how you do it and when you do it. You could easily breeze through the entire year having only gone to lectures and nothing else but I can imagine that won’t be a good tactic to have used come exam time. My extra work consists of re-writing the lecture notes to my own way of thinking and completing my anatomy book with lots of detail each week. If there is something that has completely clouded me I draw on the MTC’s whiteboards for a day or go to my lecturers. An example of this is the heart when I was struggling to get my head around the vessels supplying the structure so I took a model from the common room, obtained resources from my anatomy teacher and drew the vessel until I got it.

It’s entirely up to you, you drive your own learning at med school. They just give you the initial kick start and then it’s down to you. However, it does become a natural thing. After lectures, most people migrate to the PC room at the MTC or the main library on campus. I tend to live in the MTC as I like studying outside my room in which my productivity rate is severely reduced.

How do you manage to keep up with everything? / Do you struggle with the workload?

Answer: I don’t / YES

You will be up to date in the first week (and there will be some people who are up to date the entire year) but honestly, I am always at least 2 days behind. There is a lot of work, but it’s so much more important that you understand what is going on rather than being constantly up to date. I have 6 lectures to catch up on still from block 2 that ended two weeks ago. It’s ok to be behind. This took me a while to accept and I stressed myself out so much over it. I prioritise some tasks over others which helps. An example of this is Anatomy as we have the sessions each Friday. I make sure I am up to date with those lectures and that my workbook is filled in before each session (and occasionally I used the two-hour break I have at the hospital to get the last bits filled in).

Honestly, you are drinking from a fire hydrant with the amount of content you have to learn, but none of it (most of the time) is particularly hard, there is just a lot. So you come up with pipes and loops and diversions to send that water on a by-pass trip to when you can find the time to work on it. It’s ok not to be this stunning student who knows it all, no-one is and if they say they are … they are lying ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you ever feel inadequate?

Answer: Yes, but I try and not let it get to me

This is particularly more relevant to the GEM course, something which I initially set out to do on this blog. On these courses, you have everyone from a non-science background to people with PhD’s in anatomy/virology or have been a paramedic/ HCA/ PA for years before. I came from a very specific science background and so for all this term, I have felt inferior to everyone else. It’s taken me forever to grasp some concepts and I have felt a complete failure half of the time. However, it’s important to try and ignore what people have come with and are sprouting out and focus on you.

I sit in CBL sometimes with people who have come from the more traditional backgrounds (Biomed, Medical Sciences) and I kick myself when I don’t know things because I am from a science background and I should know these things. However, in reality, these people have had entire modules on one of the lectures and so understandably know it back to front. I remind myself that in block three, I will hopefully have the same opportunity to teach as my peers did this term not necessarily because I have covered the content before, but neuro is what excites me and I will be over enthusiastic with trying to learn things.

You just have to embrace it all, and use it to your advantage? Struggling with anatomy? Find that person who is an expert and ask if they will teach you. Struggle with the RAAS system? Ask the guy (as we do) who knows it to teach it in a CBL session. Everyone should support each other, particularly on a med course as we are going on to become doctors who need to support each other, so why not start now?

It’s normal to feel inadequate but sometimes it’s important to remember once in a while to look back on yourself and how much you have learnt since the start of the course. I am in no way shape or form the best in the year, but I am proud of the progress I have made so far.

How do you switch off?

Answer: By doing whatever the hell you want

This is such a broad question and will be different for every single medical student out there. For me, it’s hard because traditional ” watch a film/read a book/ play sports” does not work for me. My brain does not like being idle so I have decided that alongside my studies to teach myself the guitar and next year I want to learn some basic sign language so I can communicate with death patients before a translator arrives. However, some people in my year play sports every evening, I did revue for two weeks, there’s some who binge Netflix for an hour or so before bed. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you get the subject of Medicine out your head, then stick with it ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your typical week like?

Answer: Depends on what week of the block we are on but…

All days (bar Wednesday) are 9-5pm whilst Friday (depending on your rotation) is 8am till 5pm.

Monday we have lectures in the morning (normally about 3/4) and then CBL/Anatomy in the afternoon.

Tuesday is normally a full day of lectures but is broken up with Soc Pop so it’s not all science heavy content.

Wednesday is a half day of lectures followed by an afternoon off in the first week of every block but otherwise is a full day off!

Thursday we have CBL /self-directed learning in the morning and lectures in the afternoon.

Friday we have an 8am lecture at the hospital followed by clinical skills and anatomy (using the plastinates and surface anatomy models).

In January we will start our hospital teaching so Mondays and Tuesdays become half days at uni and then the other half is self-directed learning/hospital teaching. At the weekends there are events put on by the upper years such as anatomy and physiology days which are optional but I always go to them as sometimes just being taught the topic differently can make you “see the light”. The free pizza helps too.

Did you have any expectations before med school and have your perceptions changed?

Answer: Yes

I went into my first day thinking I would be solidly working from 9am-10pm and managing to juggle a social life and starting to do some exercise on the regular. I can safely say none of this has happened ๐Ÿ˜€

I am 100% not working 9am – 10pm every day. I think I did in my first week but that quickly stopped. I was just exhausted constantly and so this was not a viable option. It’s also taken me a while to develop a new method of getting my notes written up and making sure I understand what I have learnt which has taken a good 8 weeks. This is fine though as I have 60% of the year still to go and Block One will not be an issue to go over.

I also expected it to take forever in terms of settling down. Being on the spectrum I have problems adapting to new places/timetables/routines so I was expecting to have the troubles I did over my undergraduate. This included not being able to eat and going through extreme bouts of homesickness. However, in a nice surprise, none of this happened. I have found an amazing bunch of friends and in all honesty, I think the demands of the course haven’t let me over think the situation so it’s actually been a smooth transition. I know I am still working things out in my brain with regards to getting in a routine which I know I have nearly solved and I hope to work in some time to go climbing or swimming next term.

With regards to the amount of work I expected, it pretty much has lived up to my expectation. There is a lot, and though the content is not particularly hard, it’s the sheer amount that is the issue so you can’t toddle through the term as you need to keep up.ย  However, as said before, some good old-fashioned organisation seems to help here.

The people on the course have also surprised me. I expected to feel inadequate at every turn and for everyone to be a lot cleverer than I am. I expected everyone to find it easy and for me to be struggling. However, this is not the case. Everyone is lovely here, no matter what year/person/level of qualification you speak to.ย  One of my good friends has a PhD in anatomy but is one of the humblest guys I know and if someone is braggy and showy off (I haven’t encountered anyone as of yet), you just tend to ignore those bits of that person’s personality. I am 100% committed to the fact that the graduate entry course was right for me. Everyone is lovely here, which isn’t surprising as if you are a decent human you will make a good doctor and are more than likely to get into med school. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who have come from so many backgrounds (I sound like I am promoting the med school here) but for everyone to have the same common goal…. To pass the first year ๐Ÿ˜€

Does it feel like a dream?

Answer : Yes and No

It really did the first couple of weeks but as the stress grew, reality hit and I was wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea. However, sometimes I do still sit there and think about how this time last year, I never ever thought I would be in the position I am today. I never thought I would even get an interview, let alone two offers from the universities I loved the most. Sometimes, when I am working and typing down notes such as “how to manage anaphylaxis” and I realise that I am not just learning this to get a grade, it really does hit me that I am here.

My friends and I often do talk about how crazy it is that we are here and we know how lucky we are. 1600 (ish) people applied to Warwick last year and they let in (roughly) 200. That’s a 1:8 chance. We’ve managed to prove ourselves against 7 other people and even though we do moan about how tired we all are, I don’t think anyone would have it any other way. In a way, these odds help you get through as a lot of times I sit there thinking that I am in no way able to do this course, but they must have seen something in me right? I think also finding out the head of admissions is our head of anatomy (who is also on the interview panel at the royal college of surgeons) gave me a bit of a confidence boost. Just remember I need to keep proving myself as he could be deciding if I get my job one day!

 

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Block 2 Week 11 (#12)

Monday

Today I woke up when my brain decided to wake up. It felt amazing. I don’t think I had had a decent lie in since 24th September and it just felt like another weekend day and I had to keep reminding myself that it was Monday.

However, it’s not all rest and mince pies and we still have our MOSCES to go. This explains why for 6 solid hours ,we were in our kitchen with our makeshift bed playing doctor. It was useful as I felt 100% more confident for Tuesday but I now never want to hear my name out loud again. Also, thyroid exams are great to be a patient in if you want a neck massage….

We also had our blocks secret Santa – my present to Samson went down well and I got a cute door sign from nadir ….

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Tuesday

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Why I was so stressed out today I had no idea as the OSCE’s were just formatives, meaning they did not count. I think the worst part was waiting around as mine was not until 1:30 in the afternoon. It went OK ! I ran out of time on some of the stations and forgot the patient ID on the final one but I think I had passed them all so I am pretty content with that !

Maariyah also decided to get her fit bit steps in and since we can’t wear anything below the elbows – we ended up going “prison tag” on the fit bit front.

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I headed home after and ran through some exams with my flatmates before crashing at 6pm. I ended up binge watching Louis Theroux and Love Actually and started diagnosing the characters … because I am a nerd like that and my brain hadn’t switched off.

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Wednesday

The first official day I don’t have to be in uni however, I still had the formative to do. I managed to get through it before 1pm though and I now have 3.5 weeks off !!!

In the evening we headed out to join the rest of our year to celebrate the term being over. It was a much needed night out to let off some steam and it was nice to see people outside of the MTC – the all consuming building of our lives. It is pretty safe to say I made a complete idiot of myself the entire night but isn’t that the point of a night out ?

This is going to be the last “weekly” blog till the 7th of January as my December break is a mixture of working , trying not to work and sleeping. None of which is particularly interesting ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s pretty insane how quick this first term has gone. Reflecting (see Warwick , I do it !) back on the past 12ish weeks, I can’t believe how much I have learnt even though I feel like I know nothing. I have sat through 97 lectures (that’s more than my entire second and third year of my first degree I believe) not including welcome week lectures. I can just about do most basic clinical examinations and I start hospital teaching next term. My block three lead uploaded the material for block three today and I sadly got over excited (seems to be a common theme with me) about it. The lectures look really interesting and I can’t wait to start learning about the most complicated organ of the body next term.

 

 

I am such a geek.

 

Block 2 Week 10 (#11)

Monday

The final week of block two!ย I can’t say I haven’t been looking forward to this, it’s been a stressful block for many reasons and we are all shattered. We had a lecture by the GMC today and it was different from what I was expecting. We talked about professionalism in social media and messaging and highlighted the importance of professionalism. In the afternoon we had our final CBL of 2018 which meant secret Santa presents. I still don’t know who got me but I arrived to find a bumblebee note book on my desk which was amazing! Whoever got me nailed it so thank you!

The case was hard and again the dreaded ECG reared its head and we spent a good half an hour trying to get our heads around it. However, after the session ended and we said goodbye to our facilitator (who was lovely and it felt like we had less time with her than our last one !) we all headed to the lecture theatre. The cardiac society had put on an ECG masterclass of which I think a good 75% of the year group had attended. This session was brilliant and I can’t be more grateful for it, I now know what the squiggly lines mean a lot better than I did before.

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Tuesday

Today we had our final student seminar of 2018 and of block two. We had a special Christmas themed session where we played pin the ECG on Santa and I diagnosed Santa with an MI STEMI. Thankfully he survived to live another Christmas. It felt sad to finish these sessions because they have been really helpful and with only two of us in the sessions, it’s been like having 1:1 teaching ๐Ÿ™‚

We also unintentionally matched Christmas jumpers!

 

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I got back to the flat on a high because I had finally got my head around ECG’s. It was nice to go to bed and feel accomplished!

Wednesday

Today we had a day off so I trecked back up to the MTCย  (Suprise Suprise) and spent the day getting my head around cardiac veins which I nearly managed to do but it’s a lot to take in so I am not too fussed. I am a lot clearer now than I was at the beginning of the week so I suppose that’s progress!

 

Thursday

We had our final block round up today which was not as painful as the last block. After I hung around in the MTC to do some work. Sheryl and I grabbed some beanbags from the MTC common room and made a den in the computer room which made doing the work so much more comfortable!

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We also had clinical skills society in the evening in which I practised cardiac exams. My medic dad was my patient and decided to be the most uncooperative patient on the planet (family love right ?) I went home that evening with a bit of a smile on my face as it went well (even though I turn into a bag of nerves whenever I do anything observed) and with any song that mentioned being 21 in it because ………

Friday – Feeling 22

….. It’s my birthday! Warwick had treated us to a half an hour lie in as our lecture did not start until 08:30 instead of 08:00. We had a lecture to tell us about our upcoming MOSCES (Mock OSCE exams) and then we had what was the most productive clinical skills session of the term. We started out in Dr Gill’s station and he congratulated me on my birthday and then quickly corrected himself by congratulating the planet on another trip around the sun with me just holding on for the ride. I corrected him as this was a pretty hard year to hold on through (dissertation, med school interviews etc) so I still deserved a well done ๐Ÿ˜€

I feel a bit more confident about OSCE’s now but I am going to need to go over it all this weekend as I get confused about what I am meant to be looking for on the hands as there is a lot of overlap.

We then had an incredible afternoon in the anatomy lab of which I waffled on about on my Instagram page. We were privileged to see some fresh tissue specimens. The station which I will never forget was the thorax station. We were shown how the lungs inflate and what the chest looks like in reality instead of just the chest x-rays we are used to seeing. It was incredible and I got to inflate the lungs using the bag and it was amazing to see how much force you need to initially inflate the lungs (which also explains some of my lecture content this block). It took a minute for me to initially come up close to the table as seeing all the organs within the thorax was a lot to get my head around and I felt extremely mortal in that instance.

I hung around at the end to experience some of the thorax even more and was eventually dragged out of the lab by my friends who were waiting for my to get the bus home.

I also had the discovery of having weird hands. I was discussing with one of our clinical fellows about how I was investigated for Horners Syndrome as I had headaches every day during a summer a couple of years ago. My pupils are slightly different sizes so I had an MRI scan on my brain (the most amazing thing for a Neuro nerd). She also explained how her hands are weird so that she can’t move her thumb without the index finger moving also, something which I discovered I also have…… Bodies are weird.

I headed back home on friday expecting to drag some of my friends up to my room to watch love actually. Laura and I had stopped off at Tescos on the way to grab some food and we walked back to campus. I got up to the flat and went to drop my shopping off in the kitchen expect there was the addition of some new decorations. I thought my flatmates had gone further to decorate the flat except when I went in I noticed the light did not turn on as usual and then a huge scream of “surprise” took me back. My block had arranged a surprise party for me. I was tearful as this was one of the nicest things anyone had done for me. There was so much food on the table and Taylor swifts 22 playing in the background.

I am so grateful to everyone here who made my birthday amazing and it was nice celebrating the end of block 2 – bee style ๐Ÿ˜€

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Saturday

We had a day of OCSE prep up at the med school today which was really useful. I now know my friend’s hands back to front. It was nice to go over everything and get feedback. I now ready for next week….. The mock OSCES.

 

Block 2 Week 9 (#10)

Monday

Decided not to go in for morning lectures because I am really not gelling with the style of lectures currently being delivered so I decided to spend my time working to catch up rather than zoned out for three hours.ย  I am slowly getting my head around this block, even if it is taking forever.

We had our closing CBL in the afternoon and I was pretty happy to get rid of the chair position. I was a good learning experience but it’s not me … especially when I have no idea what is going on content wise.

Monday evening brought a meeting with Tom in the year above (who I embarrassed myself in front of at my own interview by declaring ” You’re Tom from Ollie’s blog !”… not my finest hour). We were being briefed for the Sunday on which a group of second years had put on an MMI outreach day and I was going to be on a student panel. I was looking forward to it but I had got annoyed with someone when they snorted with laughter when I announced it take me up to 5 hours to get through one lecture, so I was in a pretty bad mood. Not everyone is like that at med school and most of the time it’s only occasionally that people do act like it but it drives me up the wall.

Tuesday

Tuesday brought part two of my community day. We presented our patient cases to the rest of our group and despite being a member down, we got some really good feedback! In the afternoon we have external speakers come in to talk but two of us were lucky enough to visit a special needs school. It has always been an interest of mine to find out about education and care needs for children with extra needs, especially with my uncle. He suffered an accident when he was little so I’ve grown up with him and he is one of my favourite people in the world. However, I have always known him as an adult so to see what facilities there are for children answered a lot of questions.

I had my student seminar in the evening and with my medic dad jetted off halfway around the world, Ollie Bond from the year above stepped in as our “guest lecturer”. Again, these seminars save me as I now have some idea of what is going on meaning I can make my notes from the lectures and actually understand them!

Wednesdayย 

I went to bed having done no extra work last night after my flatmate told me it would be fine because we have Wednesdays off… which is normally true, except I had forgotten about all the training that I had to do that day.

We had our first session up in the MTC for the medical school interviews happening in two weeks time. I remember every second from my own interview in Jan so this was nice to peek behind the curtain.

I did not realise, however, how much weight each medical student brought for the fate of the medical school and the teaching hospitals. WMS pays 40% of the constant salaries at UHCW so if the medical school went under tomorrow (because of students dropping out) then UHCW would also close. This is terrifying to think of so it’s essential the right people are picked. Which of course gave me a huge self-esteem boost.

I am really looking forward to working for the interviews although I can’t tell you guys any more than that because it’s confidential but as far as training sessions go, it was one of the best I have been to. Concise and to the point.

As we came out the MTC Christmas tree had been put up and it’s amazing to see..

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Our second training session was moving and handling at UHCW so I legged it over there on the bus and made it for the afternoon training. The nurses were lovely and just as keen to get it over with as we were so less than an hour and a half later, I was on the bus back to campus.ย  Result.

Thursday

We had a new CBL session today and I was happy to not be chairing or scribing. We also set up our secret Santa in our group so I am excited to see what we all bring on Monday. I had found the perfect present for my person but it was ยฃ20 postage…. slightly above the ยฃ5 limit …..

Ashika had made brownies again and Dillan displayed some impressive concentration skills by decorating Kajanis hoodie with orange sticky notes… So good session ๐Ÿ˜€

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Ollie had also given me back my Marsh book and I could not stop smiling for the rest of the afternoon. I finally had it and I geeked out for a full 10 minutes and even now I can’t not smile when I look at it. All three of my medical bibles are now signed …. :

 

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In the evening we had clinical skills again and there were a significantly increased number of people there due to the nature of respiratory exams. I had a shocker of a headache pounding through my brain at this point so I was not feeling my best. However, the session again cleared a lot up and despite me having to run off before practice (sorry to let you down Will !) I value these sessions more than anything.

I also found out that a friend from my old uni had placed third in the European powerlifting competition. I am so proud that she has accomplished this, well-done bobby!

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We also had our reunion meal that evening. Everyone from revue had come together to eat curry ( our curry nights get spicy) and have a giggle. It was amazing seeing everyone again and I realised how much I missed them all. We had a couple of awards to give out named after inside jokes at the med school and I am pleased to say that the table gained special recognition as the biggest muck up of the evening.

Friday

Up to the hospital again for a morning of “Making every contact count”. Although I enjoyed the sessions and it was far less dry than I was expecting. We were basically thaught the same thing over and over again which was slightly tiresome at the end. We also received our hospital ID badges (cue the rugby scrum of medical students) and I am pleased to say I look like I could appear on an episode of the Simpsons…

Managed to get a lift back in the evening after anatomy which was amazing as A) I didn’t have to sit on a bus and B) I could leg it over to the mailroom where a parcel had been left for me. Annoyingly, the team had decided to email me back just as I walked into the building to say that they hadn’t processed it yet. The next time I can get there is Wednesday so I hope they don’t process it before Monday otherwise my parcel will be sent back.

I had also brought myself a treat last Friday which I finally got round to putting up, remote control fairy lights!

 

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Stress-Free Zone!

 

Saturday

Dragged myslef out of bed for physiology day today. Again, another lifesaver of a session as I discovered that I knew more about the lungs than I thought I did but nothing on the heart (which is not surprising as I haven’t actually made notes on it yet). Cosco pizza was also delivered and I got the chance to chat to Will over lunch and we decided to go to the Christmas carol concert where my medic mum is playing next week as I mentioned I missed the carol concerts from my secondary school days.

In the evening we headed over to cannon to pick up some secret Santa presents before getting home and finally finishing a lecture I had been trying to get through for 5 days…

Sunday

The final day of a busy week! Today was the MMI day that a group of second years had out on. The day was brilliant and was run free of charge to the students involved in the hope to widen participation in medicine.

In the morning I was in charge of an MMI circuit (by far the most stressed out I have ever been) but it was nice to be on the other side instead of a nervous candidate. The second years were pretty stressed due to some printing / stapling disaster going on but the day went amazingly well and despite how tired they all looked, the sixth formers hopefully got something out of it.

A massive well congratulations must go to the team of second years though as they had arranged it off their own backs on top of their degrees. I’ve been moaning on this blog about how tired I am but I am pretty sure at least one of them is running on 10 hours accumulative sleep this week. It gave me an of inspiration for the STEM outreach day I want to run in the summer as part of a URSS project but again, that’s a backburner idea…

Finally, got back to the flat and begrudgingly did my washing, cooking and wrapping of secret Santa presents and despite my promise to myself to do some work, I can feel my eyes becoming heavier… It’s ok, I would rather not be tired tomorrow… FINAL WEEK OF BLOCK TWO ……. THANK THE LORDS OF MEDICINE