Medical school and beyond

the journey to graduation

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Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun (part 2)

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 31, 2008

Evenings last week were fairly uneventful, went to work at football on Tuesday – did absolutely nothing (boring), pub quiz on Thursday – we trek a fair way to go to the quiz but for good reason, its a family fortunes type quiz with questions such as “the top 5 things with a bell”, we actually have a chance of winning it since its not general knowledge based! The prize is £20 of food and drink vouchers so when we do win we go to the pub early the following week and have tea. We’ve won it about 5 times since we started going just over a year ago, in the past two weeks we have lost on the tie-breaker and by 2 points. Close but no cigar.

Weekend – Saturday was a houseparty at a friends house to celebrate his birthday – was muchos fun watching people get steadily more drunk (including one who passed out on the sofa), its always entertaining when people try to convince you that they are not drunk by proving they can stand up without having to hang on to the kitchen worktop for support (in this person case the test didnt work, as soon as he let go he started falling backwards!) hehe.

Sunday – working at the football again. I had a different job than usual for this match though, I was inside answering the radios and dispatching first aid teams to treat patients. The reason I had a different job – I was hobbling around everywhere with an injured knee, I’d managed to make a fool of myself by falling down the concrete steps outside the library earlier in the week, in full view of everyone including all the passing traffic too. Ooops. So my boss took pity on me and let me have a job which I could sit down to do!

I’ve almost brought you up to date now!

More later



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Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 30, 2008

Well a week or so since I last posted and lots has happened – I now have my own office! (more later), but now a brief run down of recent events.

Sat & Sun (18th & 19th)

Spent all day being taught about the basics of pre-hosptial trauma. I’m doing my ETA (Emergency Transport Attendent) course with St John Ambulance, its an 8 day course with an assessment at the end which allows me to go to events and work on an ambulance. Its not a paramedic course, nor does it lead to me being a technician. Essentially when I finish I’ll be doing advanced first aid and perhaps some A&E support work.

I’m really enjoying the course – I was a bit apprehensive about it before we started as being a medical student in St John a lot of the time people just expect you to know everything without being taught because they don’t realise that we don’t actually get taught about trauma/pre-hospital things in Uni and unless you seek out the experiences, med students won’t necessarily have experience of those areas.

The people on this course are fantastic and the paramedic that is training us is great. He assumes nothing, doesn’t make you feel stupid asking daft questions and obviously enjoys teaching. The 2 days went so quickly and I learn a lot – it was the first time that anyone has actually shown me which parts of all the systems examinations are relevant for a primary survey and how to accurately assess someones GCS score. These are both things that I have read and learnt about before but never been shown how to do in practice. Looking forward to the next weekends in Feb.

Started my intercalated year with a week of lectures on, amongst other things, how to write a dissertation*, ethics and research, designing a successful project, literature searching, and how to use endnote. Most of the lectures were good, some were awful and we didn’t have any 9am starts!

*the thought of actually writing my dissertation at the end of this year scares the hell out of me – not helped by the fact that I have 2 supervisers but no defined project. How on earth does anyone write a 30,000 word document! 150 references, its a sickening thought.

Lunch time – will write more later – lots to talk about.

Take care


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Teaching and learning

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 17, 2008

Well I definately underestimated my landlord the other day. By 5pm the day after we reported the damage we had a brand spanking new microwave sitting in the kitchen and the shower has been reattached to the wall courtesy of some rather long screws and some silicon adhesive. I’m very impressed with the speed of the repairs, just waiting for the tiler to come to repair the roof – hopefully he’ll come before we get more torrential rain.

Last night was spent helping teach CPR to people who have never had any first aid training before, I really enjoyed it, I love teaching – especially when its a topic that I am completely confident in and can just relax rather than having to think and rethink through everything that I’m saying. I would really like to be a first aid trainer – so one of my goals for 2008 is to at least have started the process! If I can manage it, it would definately look good to have teaching experience on my application for a FY1 post in 2010.

Currently watching BBC News 24 and the current big news story happening at Heathrow. From whats being reported so far it sounds that the pilot has managed to glide the plane in safely after losing power and controls, if thats true he deserves massive congratulations.

Stay safe


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Self destructing household appliances

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 15, 2008

The past few days have been quite fun. Sunday was spent having sunday lunch with friends, we were going to have chicken – free range thanks to Hugh but after touring all the supermarkets we couldnt find a single free range chicken for sale! We could only come up with 2 possible explanations for this; due to Hugh’s programme there has been a massive increase in the number of free range chickens being sold, or that supermarkets round here don’t stock free range. I hope its the former.

After a lovely lunch a spur of the moment trip the cinema to see PS I love you, I’d not seen or heard any advertisements for it and after hearing a brief run down of the plot I wasn’t really expecting great things. But I was surprised it was really good, enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone wanting a nice ‘easy watching’ film with a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure.

Monday was spent building IKEA shelving units! Successfully I might add, theres not an uneven shelf in sight and its even secured to the wall – figured this was a good idea since its going to be piled high with textbooks and folders and is within falling range of my bed and desk – the places I spend the majority of my time. (bed>desk!)

Also amongst all this, one of my housemates came back and together we have been discovering problems in the house which have emerged over christmas. In a time when no-one has been living in the house more things have gone wrong/broken than the whole of the previous 6 months we’ve been here! Yesterday we had to report to our landlord;

1. Shower unit hanging off the wall – top 2 securing points snapped
2. Leaking roof in attic – bucket used overnight to catch the running water!
3. Microwave broken – still heats but not turning/no light

Landlord has been round and now we can’t use the shower until the plumber comes round ‘later on today’ – will believe it when I see it – the microwave has been removed with a new one being delivered in a few days and a tiler is coming round tomorrow to look at the roof! At least we have a decent landlord who does sort out problems, I’ve had landlords in the past who wouldn’t even answer the phone!

Today I’ve spent the morning watching the rain, and then received a text from work saying that the event this evening has been cancelled due to the severe weather, this is good as I didn’t really fancy standing outside in the rain this evening – I’ve got too much tidying to do!

Right now I really need a shower – do I risk using it against landlords advise and risk being in the shower when the guy comes round to repair it, or do I stay smelly?

Stay safe


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Back at uni

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 13, 2008

Well christmas is officially over. (I know for most normal people its been over for while but for me it never really seems over until im back in my tiny little uni room preparing to go back to learning)

After a very uneventful drive up the M1, I got back, unloaded the car and then went straight to work. No rest for the wicked.

Work was ultimately boring – I saw nor treated no patients in 4 hours. I was bored. Out of my brain. I don’t want to wish injuries on people but I hate standing around and doing nothing.

Tomorrow is a day of tidying and shopping. Also a sunday lunch – complete with free range chicken after watching Hugh’s Chicken Run – with 4 friends is eagerly awaited.

Right now, I’m going to curl up in freshly washed bed covers. Nothing better.

Stay safe


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Screwed circadian rhythms

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 4, 2008

As you may have realised from the date stamps on some posts, I’ve not exactly been conforming to ‘normal’ sleep patterns recently. When I have nothing dictating when I need to be up and awake I tend to become nocturnal, sleeping between 5am and 1pm. It happens when I’m revising, on holiday from uni etc. So since I finished exams in the middle of December that’s how it’s been. I really need to get back to normal if I’m going to do any shifts at work – since it requires driving at 9am – and then ultimately get back into 9am lectures.

So here’s where you guys come in, are any of you shift workers? What have you found to be the best way to switch back to a normal sleeping pattern? Is it best to just try and sleep at a normal time, stay awake overnight, have a short sleep and then go back to normal? What works?

In other news, I found out that one of my friends got engaged on New Years Eve whilst watching the fireworks in central London. Am very excited for them, they’re a really cool couple. Seems to be the in thing at the mo, one of my uni mates got married just before Christmas, another two are getting hitched in March, another couple in August and then this recent one will be next November. It’s strange to see friends having babies, settling down etc whilst I’m still at uni and nowhere near ready for things like that!

In an attempt to try and fall asleep before 5am, I’m going to watch a DVD (House MD – Series 3 – great programme!) with the lights out whilst laid in bed. Not that I need an excuse to do that!

Take care


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Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 2, 2008

… am I still awake at 4:30AM?



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Recognising professional development

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 2, 2008

I was volunteering at my local football club providing first aid cover yesterday afternoon. It was pretty quiet in terms of the number of patients treated which was good as it meant I got time to catch up with people that I’ve not really spoke to since I was back last Christmas!

The one patient that I did treat was a bloke in his 50’s whose main complaint was that his legs had given way and he’d fallen. I was working in the main first aid room so essentially he was my patient. It was a pretty routine job, nothing serious and he was discharged back to the event after about 20 minutes.

Reflecting on the job afterwards and I realised just how much confidence I have developed over the past year, just by being on the wards and doing/seeing more. It felt good to be able to take a full focussed history, do a relevant exam, and exclude any red flag symptoms. All the time I was working through a list of differentials in my head, and deciding what we were going to do for the patient. I even had to use a few of the communication skills developed in my psychiatry placement in the history. It felt great to be able to feel confident in my abilities to manage this patient and its something that I know I wasn’t able to do completely at this stage last year. Good sign for the future too I guess!

The rest of the event passed without incident, and I even got to leave slightly early to avoid the traffic.

I need to decide when I’m going to head back to Uni – officially I don’t start back till until 21st Jan but I think I’ll go crazy if I stay here until then so an early return coupled with picking up some shifts at work might be the way forward, especially now that ‘normal’ daytime tv has returned and there’s no more Christmas specials/films to watch – today’s highlights were Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins – super stuff.

Thats all for now, take care


p.s. I’m loving the comments, keep them coming – its nice to know that people are reading!

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Choosing a career

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 1, 2008

In response to Kingmagic‘s comment:

When the time came to apply to university I was choosing between medicine and paramedic science/practise. I chose medicine and I’ve always questioned whether I made the right decision. I’m really interested in pre-hospital care – I find I can read journal articles and books about new advances, treatments, case reports etc and it doesn’t feel like I’m working, its actually interesting. There are not many topics that I can say that about. I have experience of working in the pre-hospital arena through voluntary work and my part-time job and I love it.

Recent experiences have allowed me to reason with myself that I did make the right choice all those years ago. We have modules in our course that we can self design in order to explore career options and do placements of particular interest. I spent my option module with the local ambulance service.

In those 6 weeks I spent time on frontline vehicles, on an RRV, and with ECP’s and it was great. I learnt a lot, appreciated just how hard the job you guys do is and how good you have to be at it. But I also came to the conclusion that it is not the career for me. I found it very soul destroying to be going to jobs where a 999 response wasn’t really necessary and the monotony of chest pains started to grate, as much as I enjoyed it I don’t think I could have done it forever. The few really interesting jobs, the traumas, the ones where you really had to think about what was going on, it wasn’t enough to counterbalance the rest.

I’m doing my intercalated year in pre-hospital medicine; one of my supervisors is the medical director of the local ambulance service. I don’t have my project fully sorted yet but it’s looking like being something related to the development of the paramedic practitioner role or reducing the workload of 999 ambulance services. I’m really looking forward to this coming year – less so to the dissertation and viva at the end.

Career-wise, I’m left with acute medicine in a hospital setting, be it in A&E, acute admissions or elsewhere, I’m hoping that as I do more specialised placement one of these areas will stick out as the one for me. Anyway, with MMC, MTAS and the job application system the way it is I’ll probably end up working in dermatology in Scotland!

(The novelty of blue lights and sirens didn’t wear off over the 6 week ambulance placement; I still found it childishly fun going through red lights and on the wrong side of the road. I’m sure it’s not that entertaining for you lot from the drivers seat though).

Stay safe (especially those people working tonight looking after all the drunken revellers on the UK’s streets and A&E departments)


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Auld Lange Syne

Posted by studentdoctoruk on January 1, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone!

For me it was a quite evening at home with a glass of fine red wine whilst watching the London fireworks on tele.

Goodbye 2007, I hope 2008 brings good things to all.

Take care


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