Slept through for the first time this week, always a nice way to start a day. This morning we were headed to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire - we set off early and arrived with plenty of time to spare, grabbing a drink before our morning lectures. Many coursemates started to appear in the hospital cafe area, and I noticed that larger and larger groups formed, even between unfamiliar people. The excitement in the air was palpable, it was starting to feel real now.
After a lecture on cellular signalling mechanisms (thankfully to less depth than we covered in my undergraduate degree), we had our first talk on tissues and coverings of the body, which was then followed by a very basic anatomy lecture. I found this extremely interesting, as I've done virtually no anatomy before, and I actively look forward to going over my notes and trying to take the information on board. From talking to coursemates during the break, we all found that having the clinical context helped consolidate our learning and provided motivation, much more so than just learning in the abstract.
Before lunch, we were given a very rapid tour of the relevant areas of the hospital for us as medical students, including the Surgical Training Centre, which is where we will learn anatomy through practical exercises including the handling of plastinates and occasionally demonstrations with live tissue. We have been given substantial workbooks with tasks and reading to pre-complete before the classes here, with the goal being to enhance our learning by asking questions concerning concepts we didn't understand fully.
We were also given lockers to use during our time at the hospital, as personal belongings such as bags are not allowed in the training centre. My 'locker buddy' for the next year is my housemate Ryan (pictured above), which is fortunate - we both share an interest in surgery, which will make pursuing additional shadowing and observational opportunities a good shared exercise.
After we had eaten, we returned to the Clinical Sciences Building (containing the large lecture theatre where we had spent the morning) for our first talk on Clinical Skills. This was led by a fantastic Professor with an incredibly sharp wit, which was aimed squarely at a few of my coursemates several times during the session.
The lecture focused on the relevance of clinical skills to medical practice, with this first session acting as an introduction to taking a case history from a presenting patient. He asked for volunteers, a request taken up by both myself and Tom, whom I am sure you'll have seen in my videos before. The four volunteers were each assigned one of four 'frames', sections of the history-taking process which gave us guidance for asking questions of a trained volunteer patient. I'd never attempted something like this before, and while I didn't get it exactly right, I am happy with my first attempt and I thought it better to get stuck in early and make the most of the opportunity to learn. It seems very clear that these skills are only going to be improved through practice, so I feel I should embrace every chance to do so.
Although leaving the hospital car park was delayed by a broken ticket machine, we eventually made it back and I collapsed onto one of the large leather sofas in our living room. The first week of medical school has flown by astonishingly quickly, without much time to stop and think. I am physically exhausted and in quite severe need of a good night's sleep. Two of my medical housemates have returned home for the weekend, while I plan on getting stuck straight in on revision tomorrow. Slowly at first, of course, but I want to start the year positively and keep on top of things.
I have no doubt whatsoever that this first year at least is going to be incredibly difficult and academically straining for me - it's not the depth of the content but the sheer volume of knowledge required of us. Juggling preparation for all my classes, the CBL cases and maintenance of information is going to be very tricky, but I'm really excited by the huge range of skills available to learn here.
It's 9.37PM as I write this entry, and I spent almost an hour on the phone with a prospective medical student earlier on this evening to discuss the application process. I'm pleased that people are finding the blog, and hope that those who read it find it useful. I'm determined to keep it up for the foreseeable future, and wonder if I'll reflect fondly on it in the future.
Q: What is the last dream you remember?
A: While sadly I remember very few of my pleasant dreams, I do have quite frequent nightmares. For some bizarre reason, these usually take the form of my A-level Chemistry exams, from which I occasionally wake up in cold sweat. It takes a few minutes to remember that I have finished my A levels, and then a few more to grasp that I actually have a degree at this point.
Interesting Fact: 80-85% of medical diagnoses are made based upon the case history of the patient alone.