At Imperial, Medicine is not coarsely divided into ‘pre-clinical’ and ‘clinical’ blocks but instead we are exposed to a clinical environment from our first term at medical school. However, during first and second year this exposure is scattered throughout the year which makes third year the first purely clinical year of the degree.
I have just finished my first of three placements during which I was based in General Surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Therefore, I felt now would be a pertinent time to share a couple of reflections on my most substantial clinical placement to date.
While I had already been primed to expect third year to be less structured than first and second year, no longer being in my comfort zone of a lecture theatre still took some getting used to.
This is the third academic year of my degree but I am more nervous than when I first started. This year is a lot more clinical than the previous years. Lecture halls have been replaced with hospital wards, practicing taking histories by simulation on my peers has been replaced with actual patients with real illnesses and instead of just learning about management of conditions I am seeing it play out in imaging, surgical theatres and in outpatient departments. I am just coming to the end of my surgical attachment at Charing Cross Hospital where I rotated through several specialties including acute gastrointestinal/general surgery, anaesthetics, breast and urology.
In this term, one of the assignments we had was to create a Quality Improvement Project on a subject of our choice to present to our clinical fellows. This includes identifying a problem that we notice on the wards or in surgical theatres and designing a research to find out more about the problem and an intervention to implement to improve this problem. My team were stumped for quite a while on what to choose before we settled on continuity of care. Every day we came to our surgical placement and it was difficult to keep track of who was in and remember all the doctors, so how difficult must that be for patients that may be uncomfortable, in pain or confused?
I know, I know, no one wants to hear about the next school year when there is still summer to enjoy but it’s got to be done. I used to think that I had to go buy stationery I won’t use and or books I won’t read to get ready. I still remember stationery aisles in the stores laying bare after the students rush to fill pencil cases. I hate that feeling of turning up on the first day of the new year and already feeling behind. So with that being in mind, here’s a little curated list of things you can do to get you prepared for anything that comes your way.
Most people associate medicine with white coats, stethoscopes and hospital wards. Whilst clinical medicine certainly is a big part of the subject it is not the only one. Today, alongside their clinical duties, doctors are also expected to engage in teaching or mentoring, and many choose to undertake research of their own.
Research skills are fundamental in medicine. Their utility is not restricted to those who conduct their own research but extends to every practicing doctor. Doctors need to ensure the care they provide is evidence based and constantly evolves in line with new data that emerges. Appraising scientific literature is crucial but is also a learnt skill.
Medicine is not always a using a stethoscope and learning anatomy. I think a lot of people have the perception that that is all we do for the entirety of the degree. For the summer term of my 2nd year, I am doing a CRI module which stands for Clinical Research and Innovation, in which students complete different research opportunities and we come together at the end to share our experiences at our individual placements.
I am fortunate to be at the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank at Imperial’s campus next to Hammersmith Hospital. I still have a few days left here but I was excited to tell you about it.
With our second-year exams well and truly over, this week we had been timetabled several sessions entitled ‘Medical Skills Kitchen.’ I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was slightly confused by this in the first instance. This confusion further increased when we received an email informing us that we would require two potatoes, two carrots, two bananas and one courgette to take part in these sessions as well as telling us to pick up a ‘kit’ after our last exam. However, when I actually read the session description in full, this confusion was soon replaced by excitement.
The ‘Medical Skills Kitchen’ is a course co-created by medical and culinary professionals enabling us to develop our practical skills, in preparation for third year, from the comfort of our own kitchens.
Exam season is upon us! Don’t fear, I am here with more tips and tricks to get you through the next few weeks. Most of these will be tailored to medicine, but some are applicable to GCSE, A-Level or anything you are studying. I wrote a previous blog post with a lot more tips that are all applicable to any type of studying so go there for even more advice.
As usual, everything will be linked in 🙂
Acland’s Anatomy is an amazing resource to watch videos with actual specimens which I find can be more useful than textbooks with coloured diagrams as it is more realistic, and they also have exams to test your knowledge.
I have just completed my second hospital placement on a respiratory ward at Northwick Park Hospital. This placement felt night and day from my first placement I did in December in the hepatology department at St. Mary’s Hospital. In December, I felt very awkward and always in the staff’s way and I felt nervous to ask questions. I always felt I was not bringing everything I needed or maybe I was not dressed right. Now, it felt a little more familiar and comfortable. I felt more confident asking for help and answering questions. It also didn’t hurt that I luckily had a very short commute, this time it was only 15 minutes, but it took me over an hour to get to St.
Communication is something most people take for granted. It just comes naturally, doesn’t it? Therefore, it comes as a surprise to a lot of incoming Freshers to see that a fair amount of their timetable is allocated to ‘Communication Skills’ (or Comms for short). Sometimes in straight three-hour chunks. This sense of shock isn’t unreasonable- after all most medical students studied Science or Maths for the majority of the time at A-Level so having classes dedicated to a social skill seems alien. If I’m being completely honest, I too was a little sceptical by the concept of having to study Comms- surely I didn’t need to be taught how to communicate?