Life as a med student…

Life as a med student…

For anyone who is interested in what I do and how it works – I’m a third year medical student at a London medical school. Our first 2 years are lecture-based where we cover a lot of physiology, anatomy, diseases, pharmacology, histology etc.; the “basic sciences”! Then years 3 to 5 are spent on clinical placements in hospitals around the area, moving around through the different specialties and learning the more practical side such as taking patient histories, examining them, doing various procedures, interpreting diagnostic investigations, instigating management plans etc. For this we have a log book we need signed off to prove that we’re doing everything we should. We also have a bunch of exams and things called SSC’s – Student Selected Components, where we’re supposed to choose an area of interest and do a bit of work within that area. My next SSC will be in Anaesthesia. We also get one day every other week to spend with a GP out in the community, which I personally really enjoy.

So far I’ve only done Surgery didn’t give us that much opportunity to practise things and get them signed off, and it was frustrating waiting around for not much to happen (although there was the odd Grey’s Anatomy moment where we got to scrub in on surgeries, that was cool!).

On each placement (a.k.a. firm or rotation) we are supervised by a consultant or two, and the team under them which usually consists of 1 or 2 registrars and a couple of house officers (generally referred to by their year of training – FY2/FY1’s – or just SHO’s). These are listed from most to least senior and they are roughly equivalent to the US terms attending, fellow and resident/intern.

Teams within a specialty vary in how much they can teach us. A 3rd year student isn’t really very helpful assisting on surgery as we’re completely untrained. Patients who come in for non-emergency surgery usually come and go pretty quickly too. It’s not the best for learning a lot. General Practice on the other hand, there’s a lot of time for teaching students and patients are paid to come in for us to practise our skills on.

Anyway, that’s probably more than anyone really cares to know, but could be helpful in deciphering what I’m going on about in future!

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