The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

February update

February has been a really good month so far!

Despite a rather irritating combination of tension headaches and migraines, which have stopped me from participating in all my lectures, I have really enjoyed my medical studies this month. We are finishing the respiratory block which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Most of my friends have said they loved musculoskeletal and cardiovascular and hated endocrinology, but I feel the opposite!

I've been managing to really get on top of my anatomy reading and for once felt extremely confident in my two respiratory anatomy sessions. Needless to say, after every 2 hour anatomy session I am always ravenous afterwards. Why does formaldehyde make people hungry?

Okay, just Googled formaldehyde. Did you know it was used to persuade anorexia sufferers to eat? I'm not surprised! Also didn't realise that formaldehyde is just methanal in chemistry speak. Apparently it can be fatally toxic if ingested in large enough quantities.

Anyway, the block has been going really well, and I also had a communication session which went really well, too. We have regular small group sessions where we discuss how we improve our skills in conversing with patients; this sometimes involves an actor joining us, and we watch as each medical student practices carrying out a history. This is by far my favourite part of the course. It's really nice to have a contrast from the monotony of learning biochemical processes and endless latin anatomical vocabulary. It contextualises why we have to learn the course content and literally brings the academic studies alive. I was one of the first volunteers to carry out a history. Prior to the role play, we have no idea what the patient is like or what their condition is. Our job is to extract useful information that we can feedback to a GP before the patient goes into their appointment. I had a great time chatting to a mid-forties ex-smoker who was diagnosed asthma a year previously. It was so much fun! The social aspect of medicine is mainly why I went into it; I love people, understanding their problems, relishing the challenge of trying to win their trust, and the satisfaction of making them feel better, even if all I've done is cheered them up a bit. It makes me really happy. That, in combination with ongoing academic work and the idea of committing to lifelong learning is what makes me love medicine. 

Last Saturday was Valentine's Day, and I had a fantastic time. I got up late, had a lazy brunch and then headed out to central Liverpool and went to Leaf cafĂ© on Bold Street. I had a lovely lime and coconut cake and a cappuccino; Rob had the same coffee and a cherry bakewell slice which was heavenly! Later on we went to dinner at L'Olivetto, an Italian restaurant which was absolutely amazing and reasonably priced. I had calamari to start followed by linguine in olive oil, chilli and king prawns. Would highly recommend! Neither of us had room for pudding. 

Waking up on Sunday was like waking up from a pleasant dream that you wish you could fall back into again, but somehow you can't, and then you have to get up and get on with the day's tasks. 


Today is Shrove Tuesday, and I have eaten far too many waffles! My halls of residence doesn't have a hob so we couldn't actually make pancakes, but waffles were an excellent alternative. I'm debating giving up Diet Coke, potatoes and bread for lent - maybe that's rather too ambitious. We shall see! 

I also got some good news from back home. I got a letter in the post inviting me to receive an award at my previous sixth form college, thanking me for my contribution to the science department and as the elected STEM ambassador. This involved discussing how we can encourage more students, particularly girls, to go into science-based career fields. We organised several science events and it was really fun to work with my science teachers and local science business representatives. 

Tomorrow is the respiratory block test, and for once I am not shitting myself for an end of block assessment! Medical school is finally feeling more manageable. Having said that, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to have time to revise the previous blocks whilst still learning new course content. Each day already slips away before I realise. 

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