Block 3 , Week 3


We now return to normal programming! I decided to take a break last week just from exhaustion and not wanting to have to relive the week again. Block three is still proving to be my favourite block and I am loving everything to do with the brain, especially the anatomy.

Monday also happened to be “Blue Monday”, the unhappiest day of the year….supposedly. In keeping with the spirit of the day we had a double whammy of lectures on depression including the pharmacology and physiology of it.


Today we had our second community day which meant leaving the uni at 8 to make the hour drive to the Cotswolds to see our patient. Eventually, we got to the place and due to the strict confidentiality surrounding patient data, we were given a badly drawn map to find to the home of our next patient. However, we eventually got there despite having no mobile data and still being half asleep.

I loved the placement this week as we had a paediatric patient and this is a field I want to go into. I can’t say too much because what our patient has is rare so can be more easily identified than our last patient but they were lovely and after 40 minutes they eventually worked up the courage to show us their hands as these were part of the reason we were finding out about them,

We also visited the local primary school and we all had flashbacks to when the only stress in life was who you were going to line up with to go to assembly. The school was fantastic, and we were told about the adjustments that schools make for children with needs and policies regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable children. The teachers were lovely, and the headmaster offered us to go back there for some experience or if we wanted to work with the school. I was excited about this as I want to run a STEM outreach day at some point, and it would be interesting to look at the effect of outreach days on children’s wellbeing.

We also visited the hospital to talk to a nurse about pre-natal screening in which we were told about the pathways used when a mother is identified as Hep-B / HIV positive. They also highlighted a new test coming into the NHS which will screen the baby’s DNA that is circulating in the mother’s blood which is safer than taking a sample of the amniotic fluid and more accurate than taking measurements from a scan. We finished at three and due to some problems with the roads we could go straight to campus, so I was able to get some work done before my student seminar in the evening.


I woke up early in the morning to a beautiful scene as it had snowed overnight so campus looked beautiful, however, I had to cycle over to the other side of campus so I was slightly nervous about having to negotiate the roads at this point. IMG_20190123_075101

After my appointment, I legged it back over to Gibbett hill to catch the last of the physiology labs that were running. This was a fun week as we were basically shocking ourselves to see our muscles moving. We quickly finished the work set and moved onto shocking further up the arm and producing some PG hand gestures to each other (Lesson of the day: Don’t let us loose with electrodes).


We started the day with our new CBL case and I put myself forward to chair to get it over and done with as I have decided I hate chairing. We had a complicated case of what I suspect is meningitis meaning we didn’t finish all of the case but we are still functioning well as a group.

We then had a 2-hour lecture on ageing and I realised just how long it had been since I had had a lecture lasting more than 60 minutes so it felt a bit “throwbacky” to my undergraduate when we had a break halfway through.

I had to leave before the last lecture in the afternoon due to having the beginnings of another ear infection and I would rather stay out of the hospital this time so I decided to tackle the walk-in centre whilst I could still cope with the pain.

However, before that, we had a lecture given by Mr Dardis again who is a neurosurgeon up at UHCW. He had mentioned about projects so I and another guy ended up chasing after him at the end of lectures as he has a tendency to run out of the med school. Whilst we were talking to him a couple of our year joined and whilst I am all up for everyone bettering their careers, what I did get annoyed about was being pushed into from behind from someone trying to get to the front of the crowd we had formed. I guess this is just a form of competitiveness but it was not something I appreciated considering I am the one being the communication between Mr Dardis and the rest of my year who signed up.


We have finaly managed as an accomodation to secure enough transport meaning we no longer have to get the 6:20 bus from campus ! I get to wake up at 6 rather than 5 which is heaven !

After anatomy, I received a call from Raj who set up a programme called “Becoming a Doctor” which is an outreach project for Pre-meds and Medical students. I have followed these guys throughout my medical journey so I was honoured when Raj asked me if I wanted to join the team. We had a chat about the conference this year and blogging for the website so I am really excited for it all to start !

We also finished clinical skills early (thanks to the winter ball and a lovely clinical skills teacher) so I got to head home at three instead of 5 meaning I could have a nap before heading out in the evening for our flatmates birthdays. It was nice as I had been feeling isolated from the rest of my block so I got to actually sit down and chat to people for once. We also had a punishment system for anyone mentioning the M word so we had an entire evening free of medicine ….. bliss.

I left the evening early feeling lie a complete party pooper but I had a 6:20 bus to catch the next day for….


NANSIG ! This was a neurosurgical careers day held at imperial in which neurosurgeons talked to us about their careers and gave us tips for our own. This is a field I have dreamt of going into after reading Henry Marsh’s book in year 13. Henry Marsh was meant to be at the event, but he was ill on the day so could not attend. However, it was still a great day and I picked up a lot of tips and information about how to build up my portfolio to stand a good chance of getting an interview. There were some other presentations about the tools used in Neurosurgery and the ones that are being developed. One memorable one was the AI camera which could analyse the procedure and tell the surgeon when it was time to move onto the next step. It wasn’t perfect but it could help to train new surgeons and I am watching the world of AI as this is going to become a more common place in hospitals as we progress through our career.

It was also nice to chat to my fellow warwicks who had come down for the day too. I met Ollie from the year above before and we spotted a couple of people in the third year after the conference had started. We rarely get to see the other years because they are at hospitals whilst we are in the MTC so it was nice to actually sit down and talk to them instead of doing the old “smile and nodd”.

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We had to battle the tube after since we managed to exit at the same time as the science museum kick out and spent 15 minutes trying to navigate the turnstiles but in the end we got onto the trains. I walked into M&S after as I wanted a snack for the train and my bag ended up looking like a 4 year old had raided the shop with sweets, yum yums and sausage rolls but , it had been a long day.


MOST UNPRODUCTIVE DAY EVER. I seriously have spent half of it on my bed binge watching “How I met your Mother” and trying not to eat my body weight in snacks. However, its ok. Med students dont need to be on the game everyday, you don’t need to be constantly studying , sometimes its ok….. to just do nothing.


Block Three Week 1

aaaaaaaand we are back! Mum and grandad moved me back in on saturday and I spent the weekend basically unpacking and sorting my room out ready for another term.

Finally! The block I have been waiting for! This block, Block Three, The Neuro block is the one I have been looking forward to for ages. It is the same area as my degree though I make no assumptions on actually knowing anything. The only downside is that my timetable changes dramatically and I don’t like that fact but oh well.

Monday did not start untill1:45pm for me! Our year finally have bedside teaching and instead of getting 200 first-year medical students descending on the local hospitals every day for one week, we are split in two. One half of the year on Monday morning and the other half on Tuesday afternoon of which I am part of. I used the morning to go over a block one lecture and get ready for the upcoming block.

It was nice to see everyone after Christmas and I got really excited for one of my friends who had submitted their PhD thesis over Christmas, once he gets it he will forever be known to me as Dr Tom and that’s all I will address him as until the time comes that we graduate and then he will be Dr Dr Tom.

We eventually got into the lecture theatre to have our intro to block three by dawn who has quickly become one of my favourite lecturers just because she runs block three and is an avid neuro nerd such as myself. Understandably most people do not share the over-enthusiasm as I have for block three so there was a lot of calming us down and a lot of informing us about drop-in sessions but there was a lot of information given to us at once so I need to go over it all.

We do so much in one week that I have to have my timetable open when I writing this to remind me what I have done!

One of the first lectures was nice as I knew about 90% of the lecture but I got a bit twitchy when the cells that became my entire life for 4 months during my dissertation were referred to as “just” the bridge between neurones and blood vessels…. They are so much more than that and I had an internal struggle not to defend my astrocytes out loud.

We finished with an ascending tract lecture which at the time was really confusing but after a lot of drawing at home and some going over, it became straight forward. That’s the thing with neuro, you have to get the big picture to get the minor details.


Some neuro doodles


Tuesday brought one of my favourite lectures ever. Neuroimaging. I was in my element looking at brain scans and histological slices for an hour and I was surprised at how much I did know despite never having done much neuroanatomy as an undergraduate.

In the afternoon I had my turn at the hospital teaching and Matt was an angel and offered me a lift to the hospital in the afternoon. We spent an hour trying to get a car parking spot but thankfully we managed to get one by sheer luck and made it to the lecture theatre on time. It has been free car parking at UHCW this past couple of weeks so it is bedlam up there.

I got to meet my consultant who is lovely. We were on the wards within 20 minutes and before I knew it I was examining my first patient, a male complaining of chest pain. It was nice to know that I had retained something over Christmas and our findings were actually being written down into the patient’s notes! I got to do an abdominal examination and a respiratory exam, most of which I had remembered! After we were sent off to discuss treatment plans and differentials and got to have a long discussion with our clinical fellow afterwards, he even took the time to teach us ECG’s and show us some X-rays of chests including dextrocardia and cannabis abuse. It was incredible to have this opportunity and we all came away having learnt something.

At the end of the day, I had been offered a lift home but I spent 20 minutes trying to get into the wrong locker. In my nervousness I had filled in the label on the wrong locker so spent most of the time trying to break into someone else’s locker. After that, the chaos was not over as we had to fight the rush hour traffic so it took an hour and a half to get back to campus. I felt bad for Stuart who had offered me the lift and I was sure he was regretting it fairly quickly, so I owe you a couple of pints!

It was our coursemate’s Abhi’s birthday that evening so after my run, I gathered a group of Tocils and we headed to her room, except she wasn’t in. We ended up leaving a kind of memorial to her outside her door with flowers and cake and actually ended up sitting in the corridor having a chat as a block. It was nice as I normally don’t get to see everyone as I choose to stay in the MTC after uni so it is easy to feel disconnected from my block and that sometimes it feels like I am an outsider so these little moments are nice to have.


We had a half day today as we do at the start of every block in which we covered neuroendocrinology, analgesia and study designs. After I did some work in the MTC before heading back and having a bit of a lazy evening, something I would regret on Thursday as I had to fill in the anatomy book … all 17 pages of it.



We had our first CBL session of block three and it was nice to be back. I scribed for the session and brought chocolate and biscuits as snacks. I was keen to scribe this block as I wanted to do something in the best 5 weeks of the year from my perspective 🙂

The afternoon lectures brought some of the heaviest material of the block but also some of the best lectures I think we have had.

A stand out one was consciousness given by Mr Ronan Dardis, A consultant neurosurgeon at UHCW. I was over excited and was keen to speak with him at the end. He gave an incredible lecture on GCS scores and how you measure the arousal state of a patient. He also mentioned about projects that his team can offer so I am hoping to get one of those one day to help me in my career!



The first day of the new Friday timetable. Instead of having anatomy last, we were first in and I prefer it this way. I don’t know what it is about Fridays but I am always done with the day at 3pm so by having anatomy first, I could be focused throughout the whole session. This was great as I got to teach some of my coursemates the material which I seemed to be picking up easier than other blocks. The only issue with this is that we now have clinical skills last meaning that the already long sessions seem to drag a lot more, but that’s nothing a cup of coffee can’t fix.

I got back and prepared for the next day. I was excited as someone I had met through Lancashire Science Festival had offered me some busking experience (not the musical kind) as a local science education conference. I brought my brain puzzle which I had made myself so I had to quickly write annotations onto the jigsaw about the names of the lobes and basic functionality.

Up again early to get to Birmingham for the ACE conference. I managed to get there on time though as was chatting to other outreach people and it was nice to learn some more outreach activities such as oboe straws (crush one end of a straw, cut into a triangle and blow) and fire with steel wool. I also got to meet two people from UCLAN who I miss more than anything, the YSC crew. These people became more than my bosses as such during my third year and helped ignite my passion for science outreach and I would often go to them when I was stressed so to see them was a gift. I also got a lot of encouragement that day for pursuing science outreach so I am now going to start planning some outreach events up at the medical school with the hope for a mini-festival at some point in my medical education.

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I got back to Coventry at about 5ish with the intention of doing some work. However, I ended up crashing out on my bed and did absolutely nothing except binge watch How I met your mother for the millionth time in a row and catch up on the Big Bang Theory (I am sticking with it till the end).

A day of work today but in the evening my flat and I headed over to the local pub to eat and play board games. It was nice as we had not actually done anything as a flat and breaking out of the medicine bubble was a well-needed break. We ended up playing QI (as it was the only game with all the pieces still present) and I came third…. not bad 😀

Here is to a brilliant 5 weeks!