The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 13 November 2016


As the title suggests, the past few weeks have been pretty intense! I have finished my psychiatry placement and have had a week of cardiovascular lectures. Having said that, I couldn't tell you anything about said topic. I've been running around helping with events, doing my research project and marking essays. I haven't actually sat down and done any revision at all this week, because every time I try to I either fall asleep or get a headache. I feel bad for complaining about my workload given that many people juggle more balls than I do. Medicine never relents and only gets busier and busier, and you are expected to evolve. I love this challenge, but some days I can't stand it. Some days I want to lie in bed and not feel a sense of dread of all the deadlines looming in the air; all the knowledge I know I require but do not have yet to pass my exams. 

On top of that, the US presidential elections happened, and I am trying to decide which hospital to station myself at next year. For us at Liverpool, we do our finals in fourth year, not fifth year. You spend the vast majority of time at your 'base' hospital, pretty much doing 9-5 or 8-4. Therefore, the hospital you choose will be responsible for teaching your core finals knowledge, and getting your practical skills up to scratch in order to pass the LOCAS (Liverpool Objective Clinical Assessment System) exams. Some of the best teaching hospitals are the furthest away from where I live, and so it is a massive decision to weigh up your quality of education and where you're prepared to live or commute to. Many of us feel like we are choosing universities all over again.

I've also got a job, but am now worried how I'm going to manage with that as well! I am looking for a new car that is a bit cheaper but not succeeding. 

I am very excited for Christmas, as it's my favourite time of year. But again, there's a nagging feeling that exams are that bit closer and a whole term has nearly gone by. I'm trying to keep calm and carry on, but some days I just want to give up. Other days I am utterly in love with medicine and feel so strongly that this is what I am meant to do. I don't think I've ever worked this hard before, but I think it will be worth it. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


It has taken me the first two years of medical school to finally figure out how I revise! When you study a course that has no strict syllabus, it can be so daunting to revise. I always feel like there is no end point, but now I feel like I have a system that works okay. I am currently writing up notes for psychiatry, so thought I would share with you how I do it.

What do you need to know?
The university usually gives a list of 'learning outcomes' or 'key topics' that should be covered. As well as this, any diseases or information given in any of the university handouts and pre-reading could come up in the exam. Finally, this information has to be combined with all of the content taught in previous years. So, I read through it all, and make a bullet point list of the key information. 

Sometimes, it is more important to know a little about a lot of things, rather than great detail in only a few diseases. I try to pick out what is important about that topic, and make it as condensed as possible, and easy to read. As well as this, sometimes in medical school the most important bit to know is the difference between diseases. Often that can be the basis for an exam question. In this case, make up tables of diseases with similar presentations and state  how they are different. 

Make your own questions
I use the free app ANKI to make decks of online flashcards. You can rate the difficulty of the questions so that you can focus more on the challenging ones. Ideally, you should always revise in the format you are going to be assessed in. 

Find past papers or mock questions
If you can't find any past papers, look in your preferred textbooks and do all the questions that they have in there. You can also find other quizzes online related to your subject. For example, I always forget the circle of Willis and end up doing this quiz each year. 

Ask friends what they're doing
Always ask other people in your year or above what they use(d) for the topic you're revising. If they are in a year above you, ask about what common questions come up. 

Work little and often
Going over 5 questions a day is way better than doing 50 in one day. Doing little bits on a regular basis helps keep you progressing and will make revising during exam time a lot less daunting. 

Save helpful information on Dropbox
If you find something really useful but don't want to waste printing it off, get a Dropbox account  and store it on there. This is so helpful for writing up lectures and saving powerpoint presentations.

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