Going to Medical School….

If you are reading this chances are you have just been accepted into Medical School, if so CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

This is such an exciting time for you; all the hard work, stress (and probably tears) have been worth it and you have achieved something amazing!

Take this time to really be excited about the years to come, don’t be afraid to feel proud of yourself.

During the next few weeks make sure to relax, you won’t get too much chance once you start. Visit school friends before you all leave for University because once you start it becomes increasingly hard to catch up. I found most of my exams were timetabled for just after a holiday so I would go into a revision bubble making keeping it touch really difficult (but don’t worry about that just yet) for now make the most of your freedom!

Get yourself onto the medical school freshers Facebook group (there will be one I promise). I can also guarantee there will be at least one person on there that claims to already be revising for the first exam, DO NOT listen to them. They are probably lying and even if they are working 1) its pointless as until lectures start you have no idea what to revise and 2) they are sad and boring and weird.

Soon you should be getting a big ‘freshers pack’ through the letter box. Get everything out and have a read about all the exciting activities you can do at University (there is more to life than medicine). Make sure to sign up to at least one extracurricular event during the freshers week, even if its something completely random you have never tried before, it might just become your lifeline during the crazy 5-6 years ahead. I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and found it to be one of the best decisions of my University Career (even as a person who has never done/ been any good at sports before starting).

In the freshers pack you will probably get a list of ‘required’ textbooks. Do not get any until you arrive at Medical School and talk to the older years. If you buy everything on the list you won’t have any student loan left to live on! Just wait, you won’t miss a textbook for a week or two. I actually found I used the internet for most of my revision and very rarely opened a proper traditional textbook.

If your University does a ‘Freshers Week’ I would suggest getting a wrist band and joining in with all the activities. In my halls I was the only medic in the building and that meant everyone else was making the most of Freshers as they didn’t have lectures to get up for. I am really glad I spent time going out with them during the first few weeks (even though I did have to get up for 9am lectures…) the first few weeks of medical school were recaps from A-levels anyway…. (I tell myself thankful nothing from those lectures ever came up in exams).

One thing I was surprised about was other non-medics reactions when they found out I was a medic. Most were completely normal, non-weird people about it however there were a few occasions when people (who clearly were just upset they hadn’t been accepted to Medical School) would quiz me about my exam grades and my UKCAT and my extra curricular activities and try and pick holes in my application. If this happens to you don’t play up to it just leave the situation. They are just upset with the system, not at you, and they aren’t worth your time. Go find happy people to spend your time with instead 🙂

This is such an exciting time for you! I am feeling all emotional just writing this and my acceptance to medical school was in 2012!!!

Good luck, enjoy and if you have any questions or want any advice about starting medical school leave a questions in the comments and I will do my best to help you 🙂

Dr. H xx

 

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How I revised in Medical School

I often get asked by students in lower years how I found time to manage my work and social life during medical school. Not going to lie it is very difficult to get enough revision done during Medical School and still feel like you are living a (reasonably) normal life.

This blog post is centred around how I managed my work throughout the year to keep on top of everything (how I revised coming up to exam season I will be writing about in a future blog).

Visualise your time

I find writing everything out in multiple colours is the best way for me to manage my time. I actually use multiple planners to sort everything out.Blog 2

I usually make a wall calendar out of a weekly planner sheet. This then I can write on the big things for the next few months e.g. when I have a frisbee tournament, Birthdays etc.

I have a week to view diary that I keep with me at all times and this is where I write down the timetable for the week e.g. when and where my clinics are, Lectures etc.

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I have a 2-day to view diary also where I can plan my individual days in

30 min intervals. What I tend to actually do with this planner is write down my days to-do list rather than using the specific time slots.

This might seem like rather a lot of planners but actually I find if I write down everything I need in this way I don’t miss anything and I am actually more productive.

Little and often

So if you have spent any time at Medical School you will have an appreciation of just how much there is to learn! It is possible to get through with just a mass cram session right before each exam (but I really would not recommend this!). The best thing to do is to revise little and often, I would try and get at least one thing done every day, even if it’s just to read one section of a textbook or to do 50 SBA questions- I lived on Pass Medicine.

I would often find that I had no motivation to do any revision, especially after a long day of work, so the trick is to find something to motivate you into doing something. I found treating myself with an episode (or 5) of Greys Anatomy if I managed to get an hour of revision in first was a useful goal. I also (sad I know) would use Greys to revise… As patients came in with weird and wonderful diseases I would look them up and have a little read of their presentation and management, this genuinely has helped me in the past when being quizzed by a consultant during a ward round.

Good Resources

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So the most useful textbooks I used during Medical School were from the “Oxford Handbook” collection, specifically Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine and Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialities.

Rather than buy multiple huge (very expensive) textbooks I tried to use internet resources as much

as possible. Patient.co.uk was the most useful place I supplemented my text book reading.

The TeachMeAnatomy and TeachMeSurgery websites have also been so helpful, the diagrams I found especially useful.

For testing myself I have had a PassMedicine account for the past 2 years (this does cost sadly but I found it so useful I would recommend paying). It was a great way to revise a topic you had learnt that week or sometimes if I really couldn’t make myself do proper revision I could use it as a bit of passive learning.

Setting out notes

So during clinical years I decided to hand write all my notes. This was a decision I made to try and make the process more active, I found if I types notes on my laptop I wouldn’t be giving it my full attention and I skipped corners by copying and pasting diagrams etc. When I hand wrote notes it meant I had to draw it all myself which helped me understand the content.

I found an A4 page per disease was a good marker. If I was writing much more than this I was going into far too much detail. That is the difficulty when revising medicine-knowing how much depth to go into each topic with as you can very easily get bogged down.

I would start with a section on anatomy and/or pathophysiology depending on the topic and my previous knowledge. If I was already confidant with the pathophysiology behind the disease I wouldn’t bother to re-write it (e.g. Asthma as we did this so much during pre-clinical years I know it backwards).

Next came risk factors, classically who gets the disease: gender, ethnicity, age etc.

Signs and Symptoms were the next thing- I found this section the most important as our medical school wrote most of their exams as a clinical presentation of signs and symptoms and from that you would have to develop a diagnosis with correct investigations and management.

For the investigations section I would try and split this into: Bed side tests, Blood tests, imaging and other fancy investigations.

Management of the disease I would also split, usually into Non-pharmacology, Pharmacology and surgery, again this is how the medical school tend to structure our exams so revising like this was useful for answering their questions.

I would end the page with outcomes of the disease, especially in the life shortening diseases, and any additional information I felt was important to know for that disease.

This is how I would write notes throughout the year. I would then convert these notes into smaller flash cards as I come up to exam season but this will be covered in another blog post.

If you’ve made it this far… Well Done!! I hope you have found something useful to help you through the joy that is Medical School.

Dr H xx

First Day Nerves…

So I start work as a Doctor in less than 48 hours! That is a terrifying thought…. I think I’ve  been coping with the nerves rather well for the past few weeks but last night it finally hit me and sleep was almost impossible!

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I have been trying to occupy myself with other tasks to try and take my mind off the imminent start of work (yesterday I had a lovely afternoon tea with my Mum) but it doesn’t seem to be working as once it’s night time I can’t turn off my brain!

I know once I actually start I will be alright, I wouldn’t have made it through medical school if I couldn’t manage on my first day of work, but the not knowing what to expect is really scary.

As distraction doesn’t seem to work I guess I should take advantage of my willingness to work and get some pre-reading done so at least I can pretend I am prepared for work.

Any thoughts on what are the key things for an FY1? Anything specific to a Resp job that would be useful to revise before starting?

xx

Surviving Medical School

As a recent graduate I can now officially say “I survived Medical School!”.

Looking back I feel a mixture of relief and sadness that that part of my life is over, it doesn’t feel like I have been away at University for the past 5 years but that’s what’s written on my Degree so it must be true…

So over the past few days I have been trying to think of a few helpful hints about how to get through Medical School (mostly) unscathed. This is more focused on the clinical years as pre-clinical is such a long time ago I can’t really remember anything about it.

1- Medical School Guilt

This is a real and terrible thing! What I am talking about is that feeling of guilt you get when you haven’t completed a perceived amount of work. This would range anywhere from I hadn’t actually done any work in a day to having worked a full day on the ward, gone home and done an hour+ of work but hadn’t completed everything on my days ‘to do’ list and feeling like a terrible person who didn’t deserve to be there. Writing it out like this makes it sound insane and thats what it is…. I have spent many hours trying to figure out how to stop this happening and to be honest I have no idea how to stop this feeling! All I can say is it will happen and you are not alone in feeling this way. I think acknowledgment is the first step- I found once I was aware of the guilt it did become slightly easier to ignore.

2- Preparing for new blocks

At my medical school we had 7 week blocks on the main subjects: General medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics etc. This usually involved an “introduction week” then 6 weeks on the wards/clinics/community work.

Initially I tried to read ahead before the lectures- I learnt very quickly this did not work for me… I found I didn’t understand most of the language (especially if it was a completely new topic) and actually I was just wasting time. I found writing rough notes during the lectures to be a useful way of retaining the information being given, especially as it was an active process which forced me to keep paying attention throughout the whole lecture.

The most useful thing I found was to write a list of everything I had to get done during the block. I would start by looking through the workbook (our medical school gave us subject specific work books) and writing a list of all the topics I needed to cover. I would then write out a timetable for the block that included all the timetabled teaching, booked clinics and ward rounds. The spare time around this I would allocate to the different topics to learn, general ward work and rest time.

I did all of these things at the start of every block and I found it gave me a clear view of what I had to get done and when. It meant by the end of the block things were starting to make sense and I went into all my end of block exams with confidence- this showed as I did pass every exam whilst at medical school.

3- Exam stress

Stress is a common thing- especially in Medical School. The way I found to help cope with this (not completely remove stress as that’s not going to happen) was to plan ahead. To begin with I would write a list of everything I had to cover during my revision. I would then split the number of days I had to revise into a morning, afternoon and evening session. I would fill in each session with one of the topics to cover, making sure to give myself lots of breaks- my mum loved to take me out onto lots of walks. This would at least help me to visualise how much work I had to get done and in what time frame which helped to remove some of the stress around exams.

4- Life outside Medicine

This is sooo important! I don’t know how I would have coped through Medical School without having some friends outside of Medicine and something to do to take my mind of work once in a while. I found Ultimate Frisbee to be a great way to unwind. It allowed me to get some exercise in, I made some amazing friends and I had lots of weekends away at tournaments that I found helped me work harder and more efficiently throughout the week knowing I would then have the whole weekend free.

Whatever you do at University there has to be more than just Medical School. If not you will burn out… it may not happen until you start actually working but at some point it will happen!

I managed to make it through Medical School and you can too! It may feel like hell at the time but trust me it will get better and suddenly you will be about to start your first job as a real Doctor!!!!

xx

Preparing to start work… 

IMG_0341I will start my first job in just over two weeks so I thought I would run though the things I am doing to prepare myself.

1- Getting organised! I am a list person, I cannot actually function without always having a to-do list by my side. So the first thing I have done is written everything I need to get done down. There will be so much, from pre-employment checks to completing online e-leaning courses. If you start a few weeks early then you can get these things done steadily rather than rushing (that’s what I tried to convince myself anyway). Along with a list I have also recently upgraded my diary to a more official ‘filofax’ system so have been trying to get myself sorted with that before work starts.

IMG_03402- Revision. Not sure about anyone else but it has been 4 months since my finals and I feel like most of the information has already fallen out of my head! I decided that a bit of revision over the next few weeks will help me to remember the bits I may have forgotten and give me a bit more confidence when I actually start work. I have decided to split my revision into two sections: 1-specifically Respiratory pathology as this is my first job, 2- general information important for FY1s (things like fluid prescribing, death certificates, dealing with acutely unwell patients etc.)

3- Physical preparation. My first day will start at 7.30am!! As I have spent the last 4 months sleeping in until 10am I figured the first thing I need to do is get back to waking up early! I have decided to set my alarm slightly earlier each morning (by 15 minutes or so) and hopefully in two weeks time waking up at crazy early times will not be too much of a shock.

I have also recently joined a gym… I figured start as you mean to go on…

Lets hope these small changes might make my first few weeks of being a doctor slightly easier to manage.

Moving into my first “adult” home…

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New keys for our lovely new flat
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Cute cards from parents wishing us luck in the new flat.

My mum loves to remind me of a time when I was 3 years old. Apparently I promised her that even when I am grown and married I would still live with her and Daddy. Recently I broke that promise and moved into my first official ‘adult house’ with my Boyfriend.

Moving out of the childhood home can be daunting to say the least. I suppose I unofficially moved out when I went to University 5 years ago but going back home for the months of holidays you enjoy as a student just isn’t quite the same as officially leaving.

It is a strange feeling that last morning being at your parent’s home before the big move. I felt rather conflicted an odd mix of excitement about moving in with my boyfriend and sadness that I would no longer be living in my childhood home.

 

What no one tells you is how expensive moving into a new home is! It’s the little things that all seem to add up. We went to buy plates and cutlery the other day at Ikea and managed to spend over £100!! I’m not sure what on…. We went for our first food shop (at ALDI) and still managed to spend £80, when we got home and put everything away it still felt like there was nothing in the house!!! This has been especially difficult as we have both just finished Medical School and neither of us have ever had a proper job (or proper savings!)…. We are both lucky enough to be able to rely on The Bank of Mum and Dad for the next few months but that first pay check cannot come soon enough!

 

For now we have finally got the keys to the flat and the next few days are about sorting out where we want all of our belongings to go and making it truly ours…. I cannot wait!

Hello…

My name is Hannah and I am a 23-year-old (nearly) Junior Doctor. I am about to graduate from Medical School and start the next chapter of my life living with my boyfriend in Leeds.

My passions include traveling, being outdoors and playing Ultimate Frisbee. I have decided to start a blog about being a new doctor, maybe with a few travel/ general life stories thrown in.

I have always enjoyed writing as I find it a good way to relax and shut my brain up (often the only way I can get to sleep at night is first by writing down my thoughts of the day) so I figured, why not publish it?

This is my first time trying to write a blog so it may be terrible… I am sorry in advance…

Anyway that’s me. If you are reading this Hello! Welcome! I hope you enjoy xx