Saturday, January 21, 2012


Well I'll start with a photo today...

I was hoping to be able to share a more exciting photo, but I didn't get the chance to take a picture in the anatomy workshop room, there shall be more on that later as I should probably start at the beginning...

So today was open day day, first open day of the season was University of Nottingham's GEM day (in Derby). After the usual talks containing "come here because we're awesome, but only if you're good enough" my group started with a "meet the students" session. This involved about 20 of us (mainly people wanting to apply for 2013 entry, but a few that had applied for entry this year), and 4 current 1st year students. The first thing we did was go round and do introductions. Now this surprised me, I'd expected the majority of people applying for the course (and therefore on the open day) would be in their penultimate year at uni so they could graduate in the summer and start the GEM course that year. I guessed there'd be a few people like me who, for one reason or another, were going to have a year in the middle so would be in their final year at the moment. I was wrong. Very wrong. I was the only one that was still at uni, everyone else had graduated (and many had then gone on to get phds or do a masters), and not only that most of them had been working for a while. This is already worrying me. Is this going to be a representation of students applying for this course across the country, or is Nottingham/Derby individual? How am I ever going to compete with people that have actually done things? Me, that went straight from school to uni, and then have plans to do nothing exciting in my year off because I need to earn money.

The day did provide a great insight into the course though, we had various workshops and taster sessions including neurophysiology (particularly interesting to me since the issues I've had with nerves in my arm) and a clinical skills workshop where we all had to take each other's pulses in 3 places (and declare each other dead seen as none of us could find a brachial pulse!). The anatomy workshop we had was I think the most impressive, seen as it took place in the dedicated "anatomy workshop room" - the wall was filled with shelves of various models as well as examples of medical imaging. It looked pretty impressive! We were informed about the room next door containing various bits of people, many of which were pre-dissected. Sadly they didn't let us in to see, although I did get to hold 2 actual femurs (one with part of a hip replacement and one without). Slightly surreal holding an actual person bone in each hand!

We also had a PBL (problem based learning) taster session. In principle I know this is a good way to learn, as your putting things into practice and seeing the application of material in your lectures. But as a concept its something I've always thought I'd struggle with (avoided a Chemistry course at one university based on it), because I tend to lack confidence to speak up in a group session. Half an hour we sat in there, discussing the ins and outs of a "78 year old retired miner with a cough". I didn't say one word. I thought lots of things but didn't speak up, and then just as I was maybe getting the confidence to say it someone else jumped in with my point. Need to work on that one!

All in all it was a good day, really informative. It has got me thinking though. There's going to be a point where everyone who applies for medicine and gets onto the course becomes a medical student, at the beginning they're just like me now - turning up to lectures, doing coursework and studying a subject they enjoy (or try to enjoy). That can be seen by talking to the students that I did today, just discussing anatomy or whatever but at some points the paths deviate from one and another. Medicine is unlike any other degree in that at some point you have to develop certain competencies and then at the end, assuming all goes well, you get spat out of the end of the education system with the badge of "doctor". I'm almost at the end of my chemistry degree and although I often describe myself as one I certainly wouldn't say I "feel" like a "chemist" - so is there a magic moment when you go from feeling like a med student to feeling like a doctor?

It's just made me question myself, I knew it would. I'd made a decision, but until I hand over vast quantities of money it's not set in stone. So I'm doubting myself - my motives and my abilities. And then I take it further, I'm probably only doubting myself because there's a decision to be made so it's all going to be fine. But what if it's not?

I don't know what to do! Will someone just tell me what to do?

In summary - the prospect of medicine has me feeling excited, but at the same time somewhat overwhelmed and nervous too!

All this ponderation of life and the future etc. is not good for revision! Not helped by the fact that I have apparently got to the point in life where I can sit a 3rd year chemistry exam and not be phased by deriving the translational partition function from the Schrodinger equation, but then chuck away easy marks by deciding that a cubic metre is the same as a litre. Really?

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