Medical School

Reflecting on My First Block of Medical School

So it’s been approximately 5 weeks since I started medical school. Well 6 weeks if you count induction week. I meant to post an update much sooner than this but things just kept piling up until eventually I resolved to make this post at the end of my first block. So let’s recap.

Induction week was pretty cool. It just consisted of some introductory lectures, signing agreements and basically everything you’d expect in a med school induction. The few lectures we had were so chilled out that I thought this block would be a breeze. Oh how foolish I was. But more on that later. Induction week ended in pretty much the best way possible: The Induction Ball.

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I especially loved the fact that it was a black tie affair and as we already know, any excuse for me to put on a suit…

So. Block 1. We’re taught in 5-week blocks and at the end of every block, we do what’s called a formative assessment which consists of MCQs and SAQs (short answer questions). Block 1 was Health, Metabolism & Homeostasis. In all fairness, the content itself wasn’t inherently difficult but the sheer volume of information being thrown at us was something else entirely. Ever hear the drinking from a hosepipe analogy? It’s surprisingly pretty darn accurate in this case. I think something I’ve struggled with is my learning style. My previous degrees have required me to do some very in-depth research and study. Whereas medicine so far is less about depth and more about breadth. Put simply, I’m used to learning a lot about specific areas whereas medicine is learning a lot about, well, a lot. But this is something I’m working on and will surely improve upon. Having just sat my formative assessment for this block and getting 80%, I find myself reflecting on the block. What I liked and what I didn’t. What went well and what didn’t. And what I can do to improve in block 2.

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Just a random picture I took walking towards the med shool

Something my med school does is CBL which is case-based learning. Every week, we get a new case which corresponds with the week’s lecture themes. I really like my CBL group and we all seem to be on the same wavelength. I like to listen to everyone’s views and process everything before I comment: It’s amazing to see how people think differently from you and even moreso when someone mentions something you hadn’t even considered. Also, there was a, erm, unanimous decision to have weekly cake at the end of each case. I have zero complaints about this.

Every Friday we’re at the hospital doing Clinical Skills and Anatomy & Imaging. It’s awesome! I actually feel like I’m learning real medicine when we’re there. We have to dress “appropriately” for the day which means smart shoes, trousers and a shirt for me. No complaints here. I actually feel more professional.

We’ve been doing things like percussion, auscultation, patient consultations etc. We also spend hours in the anatomy lab working with plastinated prosections. Our school gets plastinations from Gunther Von Hagens which is pretty sweet. I think so far, Fridays have been my favourite part of the block.

There have been a few nights out. Most memorably Doctors and Nurses. The women were dressed in scrubs with fake mustaches and the men, well, we dressed up as, erm, sexy nurses. Complete with make up and glitter. No. You will see no pictures. I’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure they will never see the light of day.

I’ve also really thrown myself into extracurricular activities. I think it’s important to have a life outside of med school to maintain my sanity. I’ve joined a bunch of societies, I’m on the committee for the surgical society, I’m on the medic’s football (soccer for my American brethren 😉 ) team. Possibly at the top of that list though, I’ve joined a charity called StreetDoctors which works with at risk youths to teach them techniques which could potentially save their life or the life of someone else in the future. I got to go to the annual StreetDoctors conference and it was such an enlightening experience. Bring on StreetDoctors conference 2016!

You know, something nobody ever mentions is how quickly your first month at med school goes by. I’ve been here, what, 5 weeks? Yet it feels like I’ve been here for ages and I’ve known my classmates for ages. But I have made a few incredible friends, one in particular who’s responsible for introducing me to the StreetDoctors charity.

And in true med student fashion, I also now have a whiteboard.

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So yeah. That’s block 1. Block 2, please be gentle…

4 thoughts on “Reflecting on My First Block of Medical School

  1. I love your blog! Congrats on starting med school!
    I have a few questions if you don’t mind
    -have you found the workload challenging so far? Has you science background helped?
    -would you recommend KCL for neuroscience?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Questions are always welcome 🙂

      So far the workload is pretty intense. There’s a lot to do. A lot to learn about a lot and you’ve got to stay on top of the work or it will bury you. It’s not very easy to catch up if you fall behind. I don’t doubt however that my science background definitely helps. We’ve got a mix of people in my cohort from science and non-science backgrounds and I find myself thinking just how difficult this must be for those from non-science backgrounds. It’s a lot of self-directed learning as lectures only scratch the surface, so I can only imagine how much more work those from non-science backgrounds have to do.

      Regarding KCL for neuroscience. I’m not sure about undergrad. But if it’s for an MSc, then I would absolutely recommend KCL. You’d be part of the IoPPN which is a world class institution. When I think back to my time there, I can’t really pick out any negatives. And anything we were unhappy with, we raised at SSLC and school education committee meetings and they were quickly addressed. Hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions 🙂

      Like

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