Monday, 13 May 2013

End of first year

So as predicted in my last post, a few days ago I hit a low point, then started going up again. So currently I'm in a reasonably positive mood and I've been making some reasonable progress with revision (even with the dreaded immunology). Anyway, first year teaching finally came to and end last Friday and today we had to give patient case presentations for the SSM we've been doing this term (an SSM is like an optional module: everyone has to do one, but you get to pick which area you want to do it in).

If truth be told, I was rather annoyed at the medical school for landing this presentation on us so close to the end of year exams. Clearly everyone is likely to be very stressed out by revision at this time of the year and whilst the presentation itself is short, it still requires preparation, practice and effort - all of which dig into precious revision time. Like, couldn't it have been scheduled for after written exams? I'm almost certain the whole year would have been happy to stay on for a few extra days. Still, never mind, it's all over now.

It didn't go too badly I think. Admittedly, I'm comparing the experience to the last time I gave a presentation to a panel of examiners - this was in December 2011 and very early on during the Q&A session I realised I did NOT know as much about apoptosis as I thought I did. When I was asked a question to which I genuinely had no clue about, I did something which I'm sometimes prone to do in awkward scenarios, something which has very rarely (if ever) actually paid off: I decided to inject some humour into the proceedings. Cue a rather cringey joke on my part involving the band Deep Purple and haematoxylin & eosin staining (ha bloody ha ha). To say that the examiners were not amused would be an understatement, it was really rather reminiscent of the audition scene in Back to the Future:

Anyway, fast forward to May 2013 and thankfully I had slightly more of a clue about this presentation and actually managed to answer the follow-up questions without a) being caught like a deer in the headlights or b) resorting to telling rubbish jokes. I'm not saying I aced it, but I don't feel it went terribly either.

So with that, the final bit of year 1 coursework was done and I've been released into a two-and-a-half week void before the start of written exams and OSCEs. I just can't believe how quickly the year has gone, especially the second term (since January) - I feel like it should only just be the beginning of March now, but nope, here we are, almost halfway through the calendar year and with exams around the corner. Exams which aim to test me on two-thirds of the pre-clinical curriculum. Exams which are seeing most people in the year walk around either with a deadened look in their eyes or with the grim manic zeal which comes from too much caffeine and a subconscious realisation that time is fast running out. Exams which are technically passable (the existence of the second years proves this) but which don't feel passable a lot of the time.

Still, despite the horribleness of exams, I've really enjoyed my first year of medical school. I feel like I've learned a lot. About my own body, what can go wrong with it, and about how to interact with patients, the latter being something I'm really looking foward to learning much more about if/when I make it to the clinical phase of the course. I've been taken far out of my comfort zone, away from a city I call home, away from friends and family, but I feel that it's been worth it, because despite the horribleness of exams, I really do enjoy medicine and training to be a doctor. For the first time in my adult life, I've finished a year of education which I've genuinely wanted to do as an end in itself, and not as a stepping stone to some other course. That feeling of comfort and peacefulness has certainly been the best thing about this year. I just hope I can continue experiencing these positive feelings by passing into second year!


  1. "Exams which are technically passable (the existence of the second years proves this) but which don't feel passable a lot of the time." - Hah, so true!

    Good luck with your revision :)

  2. Good lucky grumpy! just remember after the next few weeks, you'll have an awesome summer to look forward to! you can do it!