Monday, 24 December 2012

Compartmentalising - A summary of Leicester Medical School

I suppose I'm trying to break up all the events of this semester at medical school into little pieces so that they make sense to anyone who didn't live them. I wonder sometimes whether I'm writing for myself or the people who read my posts and find my writing becoming less personal and more people-pleasing to ensure no one is bored to tears by someone else's foreign experiences. But if I did that, if I wrote purely with readers in mind, I'd get a job as a writer instead of as a future doctor with a cathartic repository for a blog.

So, this is my space and I don't know why I'm apologetic about it. 

Last time I mentioned that this semester has been difficult. I'd start by talking about the academic side and then the personal side but they're so heavily interwoven I'm not sure how to separate the two. I'll have a stab at it and talk about the university for now, at least that way I'll feel less guilty about more personal, less relateable posts. 

Leicester is an excellent medical school. Our medics committee is second to none giving medics separate clubs and events to fit in with our timetables. The med student events are the envy of Leicester let alone the university - the locals join in during introweek :)
Leicester Medic's Pyjama Pub Crawl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-jRF1Vyb7I
Leicester Medic's Introweek: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAUnc-5gDrg

The teaching and integration of clinical and pre-clinical years is seamless. OSCE training starts early in semester one with regular practise sessions at Leicester Royal Infirmary for history taking and consultation, the dissection room for taking BP etc and assignation to one surgical and one general practice patient whom we visit either in their home or the hospital. 
The older years offer excellent peer-peer help, organising clubs and support groups for anyone who needs it. We have medic family revision sessions, there's a real sense of community. The competitiveness is palpable but non-threatening so far. 
Pastoral care is phenomenal, from personal experience, with lecturers and other qualified doctors giving their time to offer anything from academic assistance to a patient, kindly ear - this on top of your personal tutor who acts as first port of call for any concerns. There's a welcome lack of elitism, most fellow medics are down to earth and almost everyone is exceedingly friendly. 
We're given booklets containing pretty much everything that needs to be covered for each unit with learning objectives so we get used to structured, ordered learning very quickly. The emphasis on integration is heavy ensuring you always know or at least ask why you're learning something. Spoon-feeding is there but you're expected to look at the information synoptically, putting it all together during group work sessions. 
And there's no learn-it-for-the-exam-forget-it-later - we have end of semester exams called ESA1 and ESA2. If you attain a satisfactory in both of these you are exempt from the end of year exam called the Year 1 Exam (previously known as The Qualifier), get less than satisfactory in any one of them and you have to take the Year 1 AND redo the OSCE. A satisfactory in LMS is 70%.

I laughed nervously too when I first heard this but, apparently, it really does sound a hell of a lot worse than  it really is (I'll let you know after my ESA1 in January). Its also justifiable - a doctor with at least 50% of the knowledge or a doctor with at least 70%?

To top it off, most of our professors have a very different approach to teaching than I experienced in biomed. Some are very personal with us and you are treated as though you were a fully qualified FY from day one. Some are amazing orators taking you from fits of laughter to sobriety within an hour several times. One thing you will never forget as a first year (and will be grateful for for probably the rest of your medical career): Dr. Hsu and his Health and Disease in Populations unit - statistics would never be half as funny and exciting while still managing to teach you sobering cautionary tales without his lectures.  

And the societies! We have a Quidditch team which has to be seen to be believed. There's also the Assassin club where you're given a student target to assassinate and you have to find out who they are and get to them before they get to you - this involves pretend-stabbing them in the back with a plastic spoon/spork/knife or anything you have handy. Its much cooler and less loserish than it sounds. I promise.
There's the AstRoSoc too who meet for sightings at the on-campus observatory. They build rockets too - I've missed out on all the fun because I'm usually all funned out after a long day. Plus there's The National Space Centre which I'm going to attempt to inhabit at some point.
Medics' Badminton, Hockey, Rugby for men and women, Football, Cricket, Tennis, Wilderness Expeditions, Running, Walking, Bridge. Book clubs at each hall, pub quizzes every Sunday, events at the O2 Academy every day, different medic society meetings, conferences and training events - literally lost count of all the things you can do.

I'm clearly trying to sell it.

No but really, its a great med school, you'd be fair to call bias of course but I fell in love with the place on sight. 

You've heard that medicine is tough, long, harsh, demanding, unrelenting and it is. Having a host of things to keep you sane and a dedicated support network makes you feel like you have a much better chance of taking the hits as they come. 

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