Day 2 - Back to School

Today was a re-introduction to every minute aspect of biology that I've forgotten over the last three years. We started with lectures in cell & tissue biomedicine, as well as a primer on biological molecules. Thankfully most of it was very familiar, but I did notice there were some very basic elements I would not have been able to answer if asked about. We were recommended yesterday to avoid falling into the trap of hubris, by assuming we already know the content because of our degrees, which I took very much to heart. I also happened to be wearing clothes identical to that of the lecturer, which I chose to be a good omen rather than a comment on either of our senses of fashion.

We were then introduced to the 'social & population perspectives' module, which concerns the social and behavioral determinants of health, epidemiology, delivering patient-centred care and the like. This seems interesting enough, certainly very different from the hard science of the earlier morning. There was no teaching content in this first instalment, but I'm looking forward to seeing the class proper.

A talk on our 'student agreement' followed, a binding document outlining the standards expected of us as medical students in line with the expectations of the GMC. Professor Macdougal, the head of the MBChB advised us to read it thoroughly before signing it and to discuss with him any problems we might have. I had, of course, signed it as soon as I sat down. It also transpired that I share a birthday with one of the admin staff, strangely enough.

After lunch, we had our very first crack at a 'Case-based Learning' session - we were presented with a simple medical case, including presentation notes and a list of standard test results. In our group of 8 we were responsible for tackling the case ourselves and talking things through, wondering about potential diagnoses and approaching the case in a structured way. We took the time to make sure we understood the relevant medical terms and eliminated irrelevant or distracting information whenever possible to make our investigation more focused.

I really liked this method of learning - completely unlike anything I've ever tried before and I was enormously impressed by the range of knowledge displayed by our team, each using our own experience and knowledge to contribute. The session took an 'official meeting' format, requiring a scribe and a chair. which I volunteered to do based on my experience of chairing meetings during my time with the iGEM project at Newcastle University.

We ended our academic day with more biology lectures. At this point I begun to realise how rapidly we are going to be learning, and how much material is going to be covered. It's very striking, and I've heard from many sources that Year 1 is an 'absolute hard slog'. Still, it's what we signed up for.

In the evening we met our 'medic parents' - second year students who volunteer to help our vulnerable bunch settle in. Once again everyone was incredibly lovely and welcoming, and gave plenty of advice for getting through the first year safely. I am however looking forward to tomorrow night which lacks a late-evening activity, meaning I can potentially get some proper sleep for the first time since I got here.

I've spontaneously decided to add a random question to the end of each blog entry, to reveal a sliver of my twisted personality to you in an episodic format.

Q: What is your favourite fruit?
A: I'm partial to cherries, hardhearted though they are.