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Surviving 3rd Year of Medical School

I have cried more this year than any other year so far, fact. To say that I found year 3 difficult would definitely be an understatement, because it seriously drained me.

So when I checked my results and saw that I passed everything, I was too shocked to cry. All I could do was thank God because it was really a miracle that got me through those exams. Especially the written papers- the year 3 short answer paper still makes me cringe when I think of it.

On reflection, there are a couple of things I could have done differently to make this year a bit easier for myself…

1. Taking on a student job in the toughest year of med school, really, Tai? I did enjoy being a student caller, but I didn’t have to do as many shifts as I signed up for, and this was something that my boss only decided to tell me at the end of the campaign. Not so great.

2. Should’ve started revising earlier. I only really got into revision a couple of weeks before exams, so if I’d properly started over Easter like I’d planned, I would have been under less pressure towards the end.

3. Pastest is so much better than Pasmed for practise questions, and is so worth the money. I regret only getting it in June; so much wasted time!

4. Saying yes too much due to my fear of missing out (FOMO) cut into my revision time a lot. I need to bring back year 1 antisocial Tai during exams, because she was so much more on it.

5. Anatomy. And that’s all I have to say about that.

I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed out, but those are the main things I can think of for now. Ahh, 3rd year was definitely no joke, but it really made me trust in God’s will more, because I was comforted by the reminder that no matter what happened, He has a plan for my life.

My family and friends were also a great source of encouragement too, so I’m grateful to have them. Shout out to my housemates- from baking, to crappy TV (I genuinely enjoyed Love Island), to OSCE practise, and conversations in the kitchen, they have been so great, and I really don’t appreciate them enough.

Oh and before I forget: I was a really bad friend to someone who I really respect and count as one of my closest pals. So Samirah, here is another apology for the last day of term. It was really crap of me and I totally deserved your wrath.

So… yeah. My name is Taiwo and I’m a 4th year medical student. COOL.

P.S- I was recently informed that googling ‘manual handling’ has brought quite a few people in my year to this blog. I didn’t know what to say to that, and I still feel a bit awkward about it to be honest, but hi guys! Thanks for stopping by, I guess?

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Module 6 Placement (Renal, Urology & Endocrine)

The last four weeks of placement have been very draining. Early buses and days filled with teaching, ward rounds and clinics have made it difficult for me to find time to revise for end of year exams, so my hopes of being able to post more frequent blog updates were dashed. Apologies to my keen readers, I can still see how many people are reading my posts, so I appreciate the views!

Anyway, how was placement? Well I’m still not a fan of the kidneys, but I don’t hate them as much as I did before. Nephrologists are pretty dang smart and seem to just have all the knowledge, so they’re pretty cool. One of the consultants we had teaching with spent one session going round the group, asking us questions individually, so that was very intense. The same consultant also put me on the spot during a ward round and asked me to take blood from a patient. I haven’t practised venepuncture since last year, so I was quite nervous, but luckily the patient had good veins, YAY.

Urology was very … meh. So many testicles and penises, and just no. Definitely not for me. I finally know the function of a scrotum though, so yay for that? Highlight of urology was getting to catheterise an actual patient in theatre, which was quite cool. Again, I was put on the spot by the surgeon, so I was very nervous because everyone was watching, but I got it in the urethra in one go, YAY.

(P.S. Shout out to the clinical skills tutor at the hospital I was in for being such a total babe, and I will explain why in another post, stay tuned x)

Finally, diabetes and endocrine. I really like endocrine – all the different axises and feedback mechanisms can get quite confusing not going to lie, but it all makes sense when you sit down and think things through. I find it similar to haematology in how it involves a lot of data interpretation and it’s a bit more chilled out, so I really enjoyed it. Diabetes was more dull because the diabetic clinics got quite repetitive, but the antenatal diabetes clinic was a particular highlight. SO MANY CUTE KIDS.

In other news, today was my end of module OSCE, which included stations on catheterisation, cannulation, data interpretation, as well as a shared decision communication skills station on dialysis. Overall it wasn’t too bad; there was definitely one station that I know I could have done better in, and I made some silly mistakes in other stations, but I’m glad it’s over and I can focus on written exams next week. Jesus, take the wheel!

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I Hate The Kidneys (And Other Epiphanies)

Okay, hate might be a bit of a strong word. But I’m definitely finding renal physiology challenging. VERY challenging. Some of this stems from how I didn’t do A Level Biology, so I feel a bit behind on some of the basic kidney physiology, and I’ve had to do some catching up.

It’s not been too bad though; KhanAcademy videos have been very helpful, and I’ll even admit that I started with GCSE Bitesize and A Level textbooks to get to grips with the very basics, so those have been quite useful too. 

Epiphany 2: When you start questioning whether or not you need more than 4 hours of sleep is when you know you really need to go to sleep.

The above is quite self explanatory to be honest. New lows for me this term.

Epiphany 3: I am very irritable on limited sleep.

This is linked to epiphany 2, and it’s not much of an epiphany because I already knew this, but my cranky levels have sky rocketed this semester. I think it’s because I’ve been sleeping even less than normal, and when I’m tired I find most things annoying. Seriously. From people breathing too loud, to the way they talk; the most irritating thing is when people ask me if I’m okay. The frustrating thing is that I know that I’m being unreasonable and ridiculous, which makes me annoyed with myself, and then the whole cycle starts again.

Epiphany 4: I don’t like being set up with people.

It makes me feel uncomfortable when people who don’t know me well talk about my love life (or lack of one), and there are few things that put me off someone more than when I feel like I’m being pressured. I’m very much a ‘let the chips fall as they may’ person. 

Epiphany 5: I have missed blogging.

I take breaks from here when life gets hectic, and I feel like there are too many people in my head for me to honestly convey my thoughts. I’m feeling better though, so here’s to more frequent updates in the future, she blogged optimistically. 

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Module 8 Placement (Gastro) & End of Term

In the four years that have passed since I started this blog, I think this is the longest I’ve gone without an update.

To say this semester has been busy would definitely be an understatement, but I’m home now (YAY), and now have more free time (YAY again), so I can go back to blogging; I’ve really missed it.

A lot has happened in the last month, so I’ll start with some highlights from gastro secondary care placement:

Getting to scrub in and help out in theatre was really fun! It was useful to practise scrubbing in properly for the first time since first year, and the consultant we were with was very patient, such a nice man! The procedure was a panproctocolectomy (removal of the whole colon), and it was quite the procedure- so. much. blood.

I was absolutely grilled on CT interpretation during one of our sessions, and I never got to thank one of my colleagues, who sneakily whispered answers to me, saving me from embarrassment in front of everyone. The person probably didn’t think much of what they did, but it was much appreciated, and meant a lot.

We got to clerk patients from A&E when I stayed out of hours, and this put us on the spot because we had to present our findings to the consultant, and come up with management plans. I felt more junior doctor than medical student that evening, and it made me so excited to graduate and start doing it properly!

In a liver disease clinic, I watched the consultant give a fantastic explanation of Hepatitis C to a patient, and it was truly the best information giving I have ever seen. SO GOOD. The clinic also made me realise that I’d been quite judgmental about IV drug users in the past, so meeting an actual drug user completely shattered my misconceptions and prejudice.

I’m definitely not a natural at suturing- I struggled initially, and it took me a while to get the hang of it, but I’m think I’m there now… well, sort of.

Suturing

We received the results of our OSCE today, and I passed, HALLELUJAH. I’m just so relieved, because the OSCE was the toughest one I’ve had to date; suturing and ERCP interpretation were particularly not great, and not going to lie, there were definitely some tears afterwards, so I’m just grateful to God that overall it was okay.

What else have I been up to? Well the annual charity fashion show was last month too, and I modelled for New Look and the Nigerian Society, and it was so much fun!

New Look 2017Nigerian Society 2017

I’m also finally done with being a student caller for the year, and we managed to raise over £180,000 for various programs across the university, so I was honoured to a part of it all.

Boy am I glad the term is over though! With work and placement and volunteering and revision and well, socialising, ofcourse, it’s been very draining, so looking forward to relaxing over the next week at home 😀

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That Time Embryology Made Me Cry

Yes, this actually happened.

It was last week, my PBL was on the embryology and functional anatomy of the rectum, and nothing was making sense. Hours passed and I’d not written much; I had numerous books out, embryology websites, and even Youtube videos up, but everything they said seemed like a different language. This was when I began to panic.

I was gripped with fear like I’ve never been before. And all my medical school insecurities came out in full force:

“If you can’t understand the embryology, do you really understand any other part of medicine?”

“Ofcourse you don’t get it- you had to do a foundation year so you’re not even a proper medic”

“It’s only luck that’s gotten you this far, and everyone will soon see how much of an imposter you are”

“You’re probably going to fail this year.”

All of this was going through my head, and it was awful. My room started to feel very small, looking at my blank Word document made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, and my chest felt like it was being squeezed.

So what did I do next? Hint: It’s mentioned in the title of this post. I cried.

You see, I debated blogging about this for a while, but I thought it was important to talk about this side of medical school. Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, feeling like an imposter is a huge part of my med school experience. I find it hard to shake off the feeling that everyone is much smarter than me, and that I’m just good at tricking people into thinking that I’m smart too.

That was probably why not understanding my PBL caused me to react like that. It didn’t help that earlier that day, I’d had some scary talks about third year exams and how tough they are, so that just added to my worries. It wasn’t the first time I’d come across a topic I didn’t understand, but it was definitely the first time I’d felt like I couldn’t breathe because of it. And that was what made it scarier.

A call from the Keen One a.k.a Kenny was exactly what I needed. She gave me some tough love, and reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:7. She also reminded me that of course I’m going to struggle if I try and do it all alone, and that it was by God’s grace that I got on the course in the first place, so I should stop freaking out and take things one day at a time.

She then got me to close my laptop, go to bed, and go through the embryology with a fresh mind in the morning. My sister is my rock, and I would honestly be so lost without her.

So, to anyone else who struggles with med school insecurities and fear of failure like I do, this is a post to say that you are not alone.

(P.S- If anyone was wondering, I got my PBL work done, and it was submitted two whole days before the deadline. Tai (and God’s help) 1 – 0 Embryology).

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Halfway Through Medical School

I’m about two and half years away from officially being a doctor (by God’s grace!), and that is absolutely terrifying.

(Well technically I’m two thirds of my way through medical school because I did a foundation year, but halfway sounds better so let’s go with that).

Last Saturday was my medical school half way ball, and it was such a fun night! Everyone looked amazing, and it was just great to have the majority of our year together for the first time since freshers’ week back in 2014. As corny as it sounds, we are the “doctors of tomorrow,” and I feel so honoured to be part of this wonderful cohort. Excited to see what the future will bring for each of us!

Cliché again, but it really feels like just yesterday that I started university, scared because I was on my own for the first time in my life, and determined to pass my foundation year to become a “proper” medical student.

That was nearly four years ago, and I’m grateful to God for seemingly little things like how I can answer questions in lectures without fear because I know more now, how speaking to patients and placements have become less overwhelming, how I’m starting to have an idea of what I want to specialise in, and how most of my foundation year pals are still part of my life.

Finally, I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog. I’ve come a long way from my 18 year old self, who initially started this blog to record her gap year adventures because she didn’t get any medicine offers, and now I’m halfway through year 3. And what a journey it’s been!

Okay, enough of the sentimental stuff. Here are some pictures from the ball:

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Special mention to the Keen One a.k.a. Kenny for coming down to celebrate with me. Here is a picture that I wasn’t aware was being taken, but is one of my faves from the ball because SO MUCH LOVE.
so-much-love

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Lessons From Term One of 3rd Year of Medical School

It’s been quite the semester- third year at my medical school is known as the hardest year. Only one term in, and I agree with that completely. On reflection, it’s been challenging, with many ups and downs, so without further ado, here are some lessons I’ve learnt so far:

  • STAY ON TOP OF ANATOMY. This is something I always keep coming back to, and I need to learn from this, because I started off the term well, but ended up slacking after a few weeks. You can make life so much easier for yourself if you dedicate time to going through anatomy. A new year’s resolution for me, maybe?
  • Getting my first student job in third year probably wasn’t one of my best ideas, so I’d say don’t do this unless it’s a job with flexible hours. Working as a student caller was only for a couple of weeks, and I only had to do three shifts a week so it wasn’t too bad. I made quite a bit of money too, so I guess #noregrets
  • Leading on from my last point, time management is very important. This term I had to balance staying on top of PBL/lectures, netball commitments, student caller work, volunteering on Saturdays, and church commitments, so it was quite a lot to handle. But I got through it through the grace of God, and my trusty calendar, ofcourse. So sticking to a strict-ish schedule really helped. Before I go to bed every night, I make a ‘To Do List’ for the next day, and that helps me keep on top of things. It also helps me get to sleep easier, because I sleep quicker with my head cleared of what needs to be done.
  • As important as it is to stay on top of work and various commitments, don’t forget that saying no sometimes is okay too. Looking after yourself is important, and I learnt this a lot this term, because there were quite a few times that I had take time off to be alone, and watch TV, and sleep, and eat, and just have some ‘Tai Time,’ AND IT WAS OKAY.
  • In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island,” and this is so SO true in medical school. I would like to give a very special mention to Alice, who has been such a blessing to me. From practising examinations together, to grilling me on logbooks, to patiently teaching me anatomy, and just listening to me when I was sad/feeling sorry for myself, I would definitely not have gotten through this term without her. It’s very important not to isolate yourself as a medical student, because things can get very overwhelming if you do. So make sure you surround yourself with people who you can count on to be there for you.

I got the results of the OSCE a few days ago, and I passed, yay! So so relieved and grateful to God, praying that next term will be even better! It’s so great to be home and to relax though; coming home for Christmas is the best.

Finally, merry Christmas! To everyone reading this, I hope you have lovely festive season with friends and family wherever you are. As always, I leave you with my favourite hymn: