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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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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:

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Hello, I’m A 3rd Year Medical Student

Another year, another house. Hopefully this house will be my third and final student house! My new room is a massive upgrade from last year; it’s a double room with a double bed, and a massive wardrobe, YAY.

Back at uni for my fourth year of student life and my third year of medicine, how time flies! This will be my first year without Starbucks Gal and Bangladeshi Bae, and I’m already missing them </3, but I’m looking forward to getting to know my new housemates better though! I’m sure I’ll be writing more about them as the year goes on.

So, year 3. I start on neurology this year, which is apparently the hardest module, so to say I was nervous would be an understatement. Determined not to get overwhelmed with work/too stressed out this year; it is well!

Goals for this year:

  1. Be better at time management- get my PBLs done earlier in the week so that I have more time to summarise lectures.
  2. Anatomy, anatomy, ANATOMY. I need to take it more seriously this year because neuro ain’t no joke!
  3. Join Sexpression.
  4. Cook more Nigerian food.
  5. Go running and to the gym more.

And that’s all I can think of for now! Off to make the most of my last two nights of freedom before lectures start, by going to watch a film, of course. Which film though? Hint: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife…

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Module 4 Placement: Vascular

Secondary care placement is over, HALLELUJAH! It has been a really long month, even though it also feels like it’s gone by really quickly as well? Weird.

Vascular week was tough. It involved being grilled a lot by consultants. Like, a A LOT. As in so much that I almost cried in theatre because the consultant I was with just wouldn’t stop, and everyone in the theatre started laughing at me. It really was awful.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wow such a crybaby, get over yourself?“, but I cry when I’m angry, as well as when I’m upset, you see, and when the consultant kept asking me questions about dialysis and the kidneys, I just couldn’t take it. I tried to tell him that we haven’t done the renal system yet, and he just laughed and said that his 8 year old son could answer the questions he was asking me. Cue even more laughter from the theatre staff. Not nice.

It was really unfair because I understand him having a go at me for not knowing things we’ve been taught, but when it’s questions on a module we don’t do till next year, WHY DO THIS? A lot of consultants can be so unnecessarily harsh sometimes, as if they don’t remember that they were medical students once too, and this has just made me so determined to be nice to students when I qualify (by God’s grace!).

Maybe I just massively overreacted, but he was mean, it was early in the morning, and I was really tired, okay? Just look at how happy I was in my scrubs before going in to theatre:

Scrubs
Ahh, if only I’d known what was to come…

It wasn’t all tears in vascular week though! Learning how to do ABPIs was fun, as was finally learning how to put on gloves properly in our sterile technique session. If only we’d had this teaching before last year’s end of year OSCE- I dropped the gloves on the floor and put them on anyway, so I really wasn’t that surprised when I failed the station to be honest… Yeah.

The week ended with time on the ward, where I got to take blood from a patient. The junior doctor had to help me find the vein, but I got there in the end! I also got to educate a patient on the meaning of my name, as his first response to me after I introduced myself was, “Your name is quite an odd one, isn’t it?” No, it really isn’t. Uncommon here? Maybe, but Taiwo means “tasted the world first,” and it’s a traditional Yoruba name for first born twins in Nigeria.

He found it all very interesting, and realised his faux pas in calling it odd, so we had a nice chat after that. This was a lesson that some patients are just ignorant and don’t mean to cause offense; all they need is some education on different cultures, and they will think twice before saying something problematic in the future! It was a lovely end to secondary care placement 🙂

An Introduction to PBL Q

It was recently pointed out to me that I haven’t written anything about my PBL group this year. I did one about PBL M in first year, so it’s only fair that I do a similar post about my new group. So, without further ado, here’s PBL Q (Ooo that rhymes…)

Ed– The only postgrad in our group; we constantly tease him for being ‘old,’ because with being alive for almost a quarter of a century, Ed’s seen life, you know? Every teardrop is a waterfall with this guy, and even though we laugh at things he says and does, he really is the heart of our group. Fun fact: Ed used to be a choral scholar.

Flo– The queen of throwing shade- Flo’s shade throwing is subtle, with a smile, and one of the best parts of primary care placement. She once told me that when she was younger, she wanted to run away with a circus, and I wasn’t even surprised to be honest, because that’s just classic Flo. Fun fact: she can play the bagpipes.

Heena– Ahh, Heens. At the start of the year we started compiling a list of quotes from her, but gave up on that because we just couldn’t keep up. From moments like when she thought 11 written down was Roman numerals, to the bold claim that everyone will die from diabetes, there’s never a dull moment with her. Fun fact: She can do the splits.

Jay– The rugby guy and king of puns, Jay’s anecdotes are always entertaining. My favourite is the story of his house getting alcohol for pre drinks from an estate agent, because they wore shirts advertising them on a night out. The stories about his house are just funny in general- they’re really serious when it comes to food left on the edge…  Fun fact: Jay can play the guitar.

Mo– Wiz Khalifa’s biggest fan- the look on his face when our PBL tutor said she didn’t know who he was? HILARIOUS. The footballer of the group, he’s always so mysterious and refuses to tell us the film that made him cry… Fun fact: Mo has never seen High School Musical and has said he never will.

Samirah– One of the most dedicated stalkers readers of this blog, she’s even gotten a shout out in one of my posts. She’s #TeamVegan with Flo, and she’s also a walking jukebox, as she has the impressive ability of being able to name songs after only a few seconds of listening to them. Fun fact: She has a sister called Shakirah, but whether or not her hips lie remains unanswered.

Sarah– The girl who is always on it- we would be so lost without Sarah. She’s so organised, and we can always count on her to sort out patient allocations and our mock OSCEs. I’m also living with her and Flo next year, exciting times! Fun fact: Sarah is a long distance runner, and does 5km to 10km.

Simi– Last but not least is Siman, who calls me Taiwo sometimes, and it’s nice because not many people do. Even though she was born in Holland, she refuses to speak Dutch with our GP tutor, but one day she will. One day. Fun fact: She’s from Djibouti, which is an African country I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of before meeting her. My geography is shocking…

And that’s my PBL group! We have really good GP tutors, and our PBL tutor is a 4th year who intercalated, and she’s so SO great.

It’s no secret that I had (and still have) a lot of love for my PBL group from last year, so I was really worried I wouldn’t get on as well with my group this year. This has not been the case though, because PBL Q are lovely, and even though we’re all different, it’s a good thing because it’s a great mix of people. We spend a lot of PBL sessions and placement laughing, so I’m glad I’m in this group- our PBL ‘Circle of Trust and Safety’ time is definitely one of the highlights of my week 🙂

PBL Q