The musings of a final year medical student

Saturday, 20 February 2016


Hey everyone, 

This week I was on a hospital placement working on a geriatric ward and an acute stroke ward. In my last post I was feeling a bit deflated and anxious about how I was going to pass medical school, but I do feel more confident now. I haven't done any revision, but this week of placement has made me feel so passionate and interested with medicine that it helped me to learn much more.

To be honest I used to hate placement on the hospital wards. I  felt like a spare part, I didn't know anything and I wasn't allowed to perform any useful tests such as venepuncture. When I would get ready in the morning my chest felt tight and I was constantly panicking, rereading Clinical Medicine to see if I could anticipate what the consultants would grill me on. I also felt very inadequate next to the other medical students, particularly if they had previous degrees. 

This week all of that has changed. Each day I have arrived at placement 30 minutes early just to have time to relax, get in the zone and do a quick bit of revision. This time I tried to be the only medical student on the ward round, rather than be one of 3 and stood at the back. This made such a difference. It meant that I couldn't compare myself to anyone in my year, and I actually had the time to ask all of the questions I had wanted to ask. Sometimes when there are too many students it is just impossible to get a word in, or sometimes someone will correct you mid sentence which is very embarrassing! Especially if you were right in the first place. 

I felt great because the consultants were lovely to me and I do think part of that was because I showed a genuine interest and asked loads of questions. I always keep a notebook in my scrub top pocket and I was constantly writing interesting stuff down. It would take me 1-2 hours at the end of every placement to look up all of the things I had written down in my notebook!

The things I regret are not being more confident and also not saying "yes" more. I was offered to do a PR (rectal) exam on a patient but I said no and let the F2 do it, and acted as the chaperone instead. In retrospect, it would have been a good learning experience even though the thought of it is pretty gross. 

I've learnt that in order to make the most of the placement I have to put myself out there and just have go, even if it goes wrong. It's taken me four weeks to realise that but now I can actually look forward to my next hospital placement rather than dread it. 


Monday, 15 February 2016


It's 9.15pm, I'm in bed with my laptop, diary, notepad and Kumar and Clarke's Clinical Medicine. I'm trying to revise what I know about strokes because I have a stroke clinic tomorrow afternoon. I really want to impress my consultant, but it all looks too complicated. Stroke, FAST, TIA, infarction, cardio-embolic, hypo-perfusion, intracerebral, subarachnoid, stenosis, vasculopathy, foramen ovale, dissection, atrial fibrillation, statins, amaurosis fugax, hemianopia, ataxia, polycythaemia..... 


Revising about strokes is evidently not a light evening's read. And it's times like this that I truly wonder "How do I pass medical school?". 

I think most medical students would agree that there's never enough time to get everything done. I'm lucky enough to have mostly lecture-based teaching this year, whereas next year I will spend most of my time in a NHS setting 9-5. And in spite of this, I will be expected to revise and study in my spare time (weekends) whilst seeming to already work a full time job I won't get paid for. How do people do this?!

This year has been amazing but also scary. I feel so passionate and enthusiastic about medicine now that we are getting formal teaching of pathology, but equally it feels like someone has opened Pandora's Box, and what's coming out is frightening.

I now feel very invested in medicine and I have a 'thirst for knowledge' that I've never felt before. And it can be quite crushing when you pour your heart and soul into something, and then you do just OK in the exam. It is so deflating, exasperating even, to think "But I couldn't have worked any harder, and it's not good enough".

The thing is, it is good enough. You're not meant to know everything in second year. However, I feel very strongly that I want to excel in medicine and be a valuable contribution, and now doing brilliantly seems to be impossible. We all have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow, but it still stings and I still get embarrassed. 

With medicine, there is no 'end-point' to your knowledge. You could always read more, always look up more. And that is quite a bitter pill to swallow.  


Monday, 1 February 2016


On Saturday I went with Rob to the annual medics' ball! We went with our other lovely medic friends and we all had a fabulous time. 

For the ball I chose a figure-hugging, red strapless dress from ASOS and paired it with red strappy heels from M&S in the sale!

I was debating fake tanning but decided not to, I feel like I am becoming more comfortable with my pale skin and in fact I think it was nice against the vibrant red dress. For makeup I used my normal products but changed my lipstick to Maybelline's Color Sensational Matte lipstick in Fatal Red and a red L'OrĂ©al lip liner. It was really comfortable to wear but did require regular touch ups. I put my hair in heated rollers and felt like a proper Scouser. 

The real challenge was finding a good strapless bra. I did try a Primark one but it was crap, so I went and got a Wonderbra. They are expensive but oh my god it did such an amazing job! It gave me a lovely cleavage and I didn't have to pull it up once throughout the whole night despite lots of crazy dancing. 

To accessorise I wore a black Primark bag and black nail polish. 

Overall it was a fantastic night, it was so lovely to go out and forget all about work and deadlines and just have fun. 

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