The musings of a final year medical student

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


Something weird has happened. Somehow, I am already in fourth year and I’m prepping for the infamous final medical school exams.

Despite how astonishingly quick this is all going, I absolutely love fourth year. The timetable is almost entirely composed of hospital placements, with only two lecture days in the whole year! I cannot tell you how much I hate lectures, hence why I’m loving this year so much.

The structure of the year is as follows:
  • Four days per week of placement, 8am-4pm or 9am-5pm
  • 1 tutorial day each fortnight 9am-3pm at university
  • 1 day each fortnight for self-study

People treat you differently when you’re in the older years. You are given more responsibility; people are more interested in your opinion. You actually get to practice being a doctor. While some jobs like ringing the pathology lab are very boring and tedious, others like scrubbing in theatre or helping clerk a patient in SAU feel fantastic.

Of course it’s not always perfect. I didn’t enjoy the five hour ward round, where I hadn’t eaten or had a sip of water while the patients tucked into their fish and chips. My heart sank when a CT1 was continuously bleeped, who turned to me and said, “I hate my life”. It was frustrating seeing some patients repeatedly readmitted for non-medical reasons. I’m stating the obvious here, but the NHS is in crisis. It’s not an exaggeration. I do worry how this will affect my training; will I still enjoy the job if the pressures continue to rise to unprecedented levels?

My other issue is the dreaded e-portfolio that you never ever escape from. It is incredibly strict. You have a list of the minimum number of histories, exams and procedures you must carry out during your placement. The first challenge is finding someone who is free to supervise you. However, you can’t use the same person more than twice. Ideally you should be doing these tasks in front of consultants, as they are more experienced. Then you have compulsory study modules to attach and reflections on clinical practice. It’s a pain, but I may as well get used to it, as its demands will only increase throughout the training.

This is such a fantastic year. In spite of the negatives, I feel reassured that the hard work will be worth it. Loving placement has to be a good sign, right?

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