Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

Well, sort of.

As any of you who regularly reads my blog may know, I am an aspiring doctor. As I am now in Year 13, this year I had the exciting (yet daunting, I won't lie) task of choosing which medical schools to apply. I narrowed it down to Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Plymouth. I've had interviews at all (apart from Edinburgh, which doesn't interview anyway), and with an unsurprising rejection from Cambridge, I am glad I have a back up now that I have an offer from Plymouth, which I received in December. And I only have to get AAA!! (Let me clarify, AAA is the lowest a medical school will ever offer.)

Today, I was lucky enough to be able to partake in a medicine offer-holder day at Plymouth, along with 19 others who will hopefully become my course-mates next year. Unlike the majority of the group, I only live a little distance away from Plymouth, and actually go to school in the city, so there was no long car or train journeys for me. Although, I think going to Edinburgh will make up for that. With this blog post, I want to explain the sorts of things medical students, especially those that go to Plymouth, get up to, something I hope will both be interesting to anyone, and perhaps a helpful insight to anyone hoping to pursue a career in medicine.

In the first part of the morning, we got to have a look at Clinical Skills, a vital part of training that ranges from communication and teamwork, to actual procedures. Plymouth's Peninsula medical school has fantastic facilities for this, including a range of dummy patients and even a simulated ward, where you work with actors who pretend to be a wide range of different patients you may encounter. Fortunately for me, I was quite familiar with the facilities as I did my Year 10 work experience with the medical school.

Aside from a tour of the facilities, we got to perform a couple practical tasks. First of all, we got to intubate dummy patients, which is when you push a pipe down their trachea so that they can breathe. It's surprisingly difficult, and I think we all instantly appreciated why we don't try this on real people first, as most of us managed to inflate the stomach rather than the lungs, and no-one did it particular fast, so I'm sure our whole room of patients would have died if they were real. But don't worry, I'm sure that in 5 years time we'll be able to do it with our eyes closed! (Not literally, that could be a little dangerous...)

Another exciting thing we did, was learn how to perform intramuscular injections. Perhaps not as exciting to write about, but learning how to keep things uncontaminated, and how to correctly draw up a solution and inject it into (once again a dummy) patient was fun, and surprisingly complicated!

The day also consisted of a tour of the university and Student Union, a free lunch, and an overview of the course and how Plymouth, as a modern uni, is different to those that try the traditional approach to medicine.

In the afternoon, we got to watch an hour of a PBL session. PBL, problem based learning, is when students work in small groups to focus on a case, where they apply previous knowledge, and go away to research new topics, to understand the situations, how things can be done differently, and perhaps even form a diagnosis or solution. It's a very modern way of learning, and different to the traditional lecture-based method. At first, I wasn't too keen on the idea, but now it has been broken down a little, and now I've had a chance to watch a session, it seems like a really interactive way to learn.

After I had finished at the university, I popped into the city centre to do a spot of book shopping. I ended up buying The Elite by Kiera Cass, and Cress by Marissa Meyer (the previous books of both series have been reviewed, so go check them out from the Review page!). I also had a discussion with a man who worked in Waterstones about Red Queen and it's sequel. He, like me, wasn't that sold with Red Queen, although found the ending good. He has, however, convinced me to consider continuing with the series. (Red Queen has also been reviewed).

If anyone has any questions about Plymouth uni, medicine/medical school, applying to uni, etc, please feel free to comment! Also, if any of you reading this are medical students, I'd love to hear about where you study and what you think of it.

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