Answering your questions about 1st year…

Are lectures enough or do you need to go crazy with textbooks?

So each lecture has a set of learning outcomes that ideally, you need to know ( I can tell you for a fact now though that I did not learn the material to every single one of these outcomes). Lectures generally cover everything, but some topics require extra reading outside of lectures. I would say don’t buy any textbooks now. The only one I used the entire way through was greys anatomy (and there is a way to get this free!). You will learn what else you need as you go along and asking the upper years what works well for them is also a good idea. I also used the Eureka book series a lot and a pocket surface anatomy book.

Best resources for a new med student?

The things I commonly used this year were:

  • 3D Anatomy App
  • Greys Anatomy Textbook
  • Eureka Textbooks
  • BMA Library
  • Teach me anatomy/physiology/ geeky medics websites!
  • One Note – I imported all my lectures into here and now I have all my lecture slides and notes that I took during the lecture in one place 😊

Do not buy anything before you get here, you will learn what you need and save yourself some money !

Outside of timetabled sessions, how many hours do you study a day?

I have to put a disclaimer here, I wished I had not spent as many hours working as I did. There were people who actually had a life outside medicine and passed the year as well. However, I generally worked from 6pm – 9pm/10pm most evenings, though there were times where I just went home and slept. It is generally up to you how much you work. I would say to try and keep ontop of work. This doesn’t mean going over all the lectures you have had in one day on the day you have them but don’t try and become over half a block behind! I was 17 lectures behind in Block 2! Most people from what I have heard have had one night a week off and a day at the weekend.

Ipads and Medicine

Personally, its been the best bit of investment for me all year, particularly when it came to anatomy. I could draw the muscles straight on the bones and it meant I didn’t have to waste time drawing everything out. It is also useful for when you have loads of handouts as you can just keep them all digitalised in one place. My friend Sam had his all year and every bit of work he has ever done is on that IPad. However, you definitely do not need one for medical school. Its just a luxury. Pen and paper, laptops and whiteboards also do the job perfectly. We even made our own whiteboards during revision by putting a bit of paper inside a plastic Polly Pocket.

Social Life and Medicine

Ive had a few questions about this but I am not particularly the best person to ask! However, it is relatively easy to do , you just have to make the time. As I have said, there is no timetable about when you have to had learned concepts except for the final exams. It is so important though to have that break, take this from someone who learnt the hard way. Find something you like to do and I would have to say, there are a lot of people in my year who do things completely outside of the medical school such as main campus sports teams and main campus societies. There are also a couple of upper years who play rugby for one of the local clubs. Sometimes you just need a break from other medics. You can’t feel guilty about taking breaks and finding time to get those breaks in is a lot easier than you would think. The first couple of weeks will be hard but do not sacrifice any of the events you want to go to in Freshers week for the sake of doing work. Enjoy everything , you can always catch up later 😊

Accommodation

Generally, people have found it easy to find accommodation groups. I went through the uni, but people have organised housing groups through the Facebook group or through meeting people at the open day. As for finding a house, I can’t say too much on the topic as I didn’t have to do through it all having lived on campus this year.

My favourite thing about Warwick

The campus. Especially the Tocil lake area, bit beautiful and perfect to get away from the course. In spring we have the arrival of the baby geese which is always a cute sight to see!

Best piece of advice?

Take the time to put the textbooks down and go and do something that has nothing to do with the course whatsoever.

Reflecting on first year….

It has now been 4 days since I received the news that I had passed first year. I am still in a bit of disbelief as I did not ever think I would pass first year on the first try. However, here we are. I am currently typing this sat outside in the glorious weather for the first time enjoying it and not revising! I have also just been offered the job as a Residential Life tutor meaning I get to look after first years as they move into their accommodation next year!

Having absolutely nothing to do now means that I have had a lot of time to think about everything that has gone on this year. I can honestly say that looking back, I WAS SO NIAVE !!

We have learnt a lot this year, the equivalent of being hit across the face with a huge textbook but despite how hard it has sometimes been, it has shown me this is where I want to be and what I want to be doing. The greatest challenges this year for me haven’t been the studying or the content, but adapting to a huge change in the way I learn and how I go about studying. You have to be on top of things here, and I only wish I had nailed my lecture note taking from the get go.

However, it has been the best year of my life. The people I have met, the things I have learnt, and the experiences have all just spurred me on! I can’t wait for second year! I am really looking forward to getting in hospital and learning from the bedside, I think that is where I am going to do well. I am a bit bored of lectures now !

I still want to pursue Neurosurgery though the field of radiology has slowly become something I am more interested in so I am going to pursue this interest to find out more about this area. I have already booked a conference for September!

This was just a quick reflection as I want to do a couple more articles on specifics so keep your eyes peeled !

Bee

The Night Before The Final Exam of First Year

(Just a quick heads up, this has been dictated because I’m quite tired and I have very little energy to type. So there may be some grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, please edit slide this time!)

As I lie here tonight. I can’t help but think of the evening before my very first day here at med school. I remember feeling so nervous even though I knew I practically have nothing to do with that day. I thought about how lucky I was to be here and if I’m completely honest I still didn’t believe it.

I remember thinking how lucky I was to have such a lovely year group who had met at the meetups and in the pub the night before, everyone seems so supportive of each other and we were all raring to go.
I’m now the night before my final set of first yeat exams. (That’s if I don’t have to resit). I honestly cannot believe how quickly this year has gone. Only feels like 5 seconds ago I was learning about the liver, and now I’m just about to probably read an ECG tomorrow and do some cranial nerve exams (I don’t actually know what’s coming up but that’s a good guess).

It’s crazy how much we’ve all learnt this year. Even when I am kicking myself for not knowing something, I know that if I can pair my knowledge base from now to what I knew back in September, I would not have believed that I could learn what I have learnt.
You learn nearly all the human body. We started off with the stomach and the mouth and the oesophagus and the digestive system moving onto the liver moving onto the big and small intestine. We also learnt about the bladder the rectum and the kidneys, we thought kidneys were hard, boy we didn’t know what was coming.

Moving onto block 2 we dragged ourselves through the heart and the lungs. We studied the physics behind how our lungs expand and how we are able to exchange CO2 and oxygen, relate how asthma affects the airways and how COPD and asthma differ, we also learnt signs of heart failure and how to examine a heart. we also learnt the drugs that we need to administer when someone is having an asthma attack or if they are having heart failure and the precise mechanisms of how they work.
Christmas was a much needed break.

We came back in January to my favourite block. Block 3 , the brain. I enjoyed learning more about neuroscience from a clinical perspective (that sounds really official) I loved looking at how the tracks interact and working out the steps for lesions in the spinal cord and how we eventually perceive what’s happened to us.
I loved it more than I can say, that block showed me just how much I want to go into neurosciences when I eventually pass f2.
We then had to say goodbye to block 3 which I didn’t like.

We then moved on to what was the hardest block the year for me despite my love of anatomy. I just couldn’t keep up with the amount of information that was coming our way. If you think about it we had a lecture on the thigh and knee hip. There are over 12 muscles there. 12 muscles all supplied by different portions of a nerve or different nerves. All also supplied by different arteries and you have to know where those are going and coming from. I was exhausted. The exams began looming like this giant mountain that we just never were going to climb.

During Easter break I found a set of people who have become my closest friends. I revise for them day in day out and they became my family. I am so grateful to have them. They have got me through what was a stressful period with humor and sugar packets chucked around with every negative thought. It as nice to know you weren’t alone. I shared every worry and every lightbulb moment with these people. Thank you guys …….you know who you are.

We then moved on to what has been the most bizarre block. Babies, pregnancy and menopause. Even though I found this block interesting it was hard to focus as exams were getting closer and closer and closer. However, I really like learning about the menstrual cycle and how different hormones affect the body. I enjoyed learning about the process of birth and how babies can present when being delivered. I also strangely enjoyed learning about teratogens and how they affect a babies development.
And then it was here. The big 2 weeks. Exams, well I think the less said about them the better. The short answer question paper was ok, it was tough, but I could reason out some of the answers and I felt proud of the work I done. The first multiple choice answer paper was a bit of a different story. I found it so hard, and at times it was hard to figure out where my knowledge that I spent weeks trying to learn fitted in. I was dreading the multiple choice answer paper 2. However, it was fine and I came out that exam won the most happiest people in the world. I no longer had to spend up to 10 hours a day at a desk drilling information into my head.

And now we wait the night before my final day of OSCES. Today could have gone better, but there’s no use dwindling in the past. I just have to pretend like it never happened and smash tomorrow’s exams.

I’m so so looking forward to being able to have some time to myself. Able to walk around campus and actually explore Warwick. Able to work more on my blog which has become a bit of a sanity escape for me. Able to go home see my pets and my family and my friends who I haven’t seen since January. Able to have an amazing time with my new friends here at Warwick both celebrating the end of exams tomorrow and at the summer ball on Friday.

This year has been the hardest year of my life , no doubt whatsoever. It’s been challenging from the academic point of view, from the social point of view, and I’ve tested my limits in all areas of my life. There have been times where I thought I couldn’t get through it, times where I thought I wasn’t good enough to do this. And even though I still might not be good enough to do this (I could still have to re-sit everything) but I can say to myself that I gave it the best shot I could possibly give.

It’s now I’m going to stop all this reflective lark, and go to bed. It’s going to be one hell of a celebration tomorrow.

Night.

Abbie

Exam Blog

SAQ’s

Monday 03/06/2019

It is finally here. The day I have been dreading since September. We have all been working so hard though, and I could not be prouder to belong to my year group!

We sat our SAQ today which is a series of 15 STEM short answer questions. STEMs are small papargaraphs at the begining of a set of 10 questions that give us some clinical context to the patient.

I was terrified about this one as SAQ’s mean you HAVE to know your stuff. There is no logicing it all out, you just have to do it. I got to the med school early and had some breakfast and a coffee whilst flicking through some notes to try and absorb some last minute things.

We started at 9:30 and I was so nervous I nearly could not bring myself to open my paper, but I eventually had to because , well I had to sit the exam. I was releived to see that the first question was something I had practised a lot so I felt a bit more relaxed and trundled my way through.

I broke out afterwards and chatted to a few people but I was adimant I did not want to talk about the exam , which is why I found myself chatting about the exam on the way to treat myself to some lunch at the dirty duck ,:).

I had a lovely lunch , caught up on some admin and walked with Dan back to the MTC to do a bit of chill study making sure I had some small detailes nailed. I went home at 6:45pm and had a relaxing evening binging Big Bang Theory and Sherlock, as well as writing this blog !

MCQ 1

I woke up today feeling a slight more happier about the prospects of the day. MCQs were not the exams I was worried about. I did the same routine as yesterday and ended up having a moan about some of the questions in the SAQ that we had the day before. However, I should have been so much more on it. The exams were …. hard. I was struggling to piece things together and we were tested on some of the less talked about aspects of the course.

I felt horrible coming out but thankfully, I quickly realised everyone felt the same so that calmed me down a bit. I cycled over to the post room to pick up a surprise parcel of mine and found that my best friend from my undergraduate has sent me a little exam survival pack and my birthday present So that was a very much needed cheer up.

I ended up not revising and going home just lying on my bed feeling a bit sorry for myself in the evening bracing myself for the next day.

MCQ2

Tonnes better than yesterday. We were all pretty nervous about what was to come. I was panic revising some neuro anatomy but inside I just wanted it all over and done with. I was now sick to death of revising and preparing for these so I was pretty happy to enter the exam room and sit down. Thankfully , the exam today was better than yesterday and I felt like I could use everything I had learnt to get through it.

We came out and it was STRAIGHT down the Dirty Duck. However, we were all slightly early because of how early the exams had finished So we decided to get some “refreshments” and sit on the parade. Everyone was in such a good mood ! We had finally finished the writtens!

Wednesday to Monday

“Hello my name is Abbie and I am a first year Warwick Medical student, can I take your name and date of birth?”

These words would be said hundreds of times over the next coming days. It was OSCE prep time and although there is a small amount of theory that goes along with it, the best way to revise for these things is repeating it over and over again. We were also using Geeky Medics videos and the WMS ones to make sure we knew what we were doing.

I was pretty sick of them by day three but the second years organised a OSCE prep day for us so I was up there practising. However, through all the exam stress I had semi forgot I had an interview so I had to leg it down to main campus and quickly change (wiping off the mud kicked up from my bike).

OSCE Day 1

So the big day had arrived and we had to be there by 8:30am. I walked up to the med school, grabbed some coffee and sat waiting. WMS had started to keep first years in isolation so my slot was at 11:45am so it was a LONG wait. The actual OSCES could have gone better, I made some silly mistakes because of the nerves but I am hopeful some might have gone well. I pretty much went home after and tried to do some more theory revision. However, I was really worried about the next day. I was fully convinced I had mucked it up and had failed. I struggled to get to sleep and I was just a bundle of nerves for the next day.

OSCE 2

THE FINAL EXAM DAY. I woke up feeling good but also, I could feed my heart pounding in my chest. I got to the MTC and prepared myself for the long wait. However, it turns out they switched the groups around and I was in at 9am. My heart lept into my throat and I could feel myself becoming slightly dizzy. We made it over to the circuit and began. THANKFULLY , it was a lot better than the day before. I only screwed one station up (anatomy). As soon as the last buzzer went off after my final station (cranial nerves) , I developed the BIGGEST grin on my face. I had done it. I finally, finally made it to the other side. I HAD COMPLETED FIRST SIT FIRST YEAR EXAMS!!!! My official final station was a rest station so I was just sat there grinning and hardly sitting still.

We spent the next three hours in isolation playing games such as Mafia and Organ Attack and just generally celebrating. After we were FINALLY released we headed to the dirty duck but not before I had cracked open the little bottle of bubbly my best friend had sent me. We all then had a few pints and some food before crashing so we would be ready to party the night away !

It has been a ridiculously hard ride. Im saying this before the results come out but that was the most intensive two weeks of my entire life, to to mention the 7 weeks before hand.

Seeing everyone dressed up at the ball, I was so proud of us all. We had done it, made it through exams. Whatever the result on the 24th June, everyone should be so proud of ourselves. We did it !