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Leo's blog

There are always a few spare hours in the day.

4th year starts

4th year starts

So after what has probably been the summer holiday of my life its back to the reality of medicine after a year intercalating in medical genetics. I’m expecting its going to be a bit of a shock to the system, not least because I think I’ve probably forgotten quite a lot of clinical medicine. That being said as always I’m excited for the start of another term at Cardiff University, more rugby and starting another academic year that will no doubt prove eventful.

Given I also spent most of the summer in Patagonia where it was really really cold the end of the summer in Wales was relatively pleasant. So what does 4th year medicine involve? Well it’s very much a clinically focused year with three eight week blocks shadowing a team of Doctors and attending clinics. There is no general practice element in year 4 as it mainly focuses on the main specialities in hospital medicine. For example, my first 8 week block will be split between paediatrics (Child health) and Women’s health, I’ll then be doing care of the elderly with orthopaedics and rheumatology in block 2 and then I’ll be doing neurology with psychiatry and ophthalmology in block 3. A good twist to this if you do medicine in Cardiff is that the placements and teaching take place in hospitals throughout the whole of Wales and thus its an excellent opportunity to see a different part of Wales. The teaching is usually excellent in smaller hospitals and is also good as it gives students a taste of what serving rural communities involves, an important reality of medicine in the United Kingdom and the world more widely. I’ll be in the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant, the Royal Gwent in Newport and Cardiff and Wrexham for my placements which should be quite exciting. I’m hoping I can go back to North Wales for my general practice block in year 5 and hopefully do some medicine through the medium of welsh!

We’ve just completed our first two weeks. The first week was mainly introductory talks. These included lots of interesting talks on Paediatrics, Obstetrics and gynaecology. Unfortunately it rained a lot on the first day which made getting back to the grind even painful but once Lectures started I enjoyed the teaching. There were naturally a few nights out to celebrate being back and it was good to see all my friends and catch up with everyone. I’ve started my first week of placement now, which is Paediatrics at the Royal Glam. It’s been really busy and the team have been doing their best to keep us involved. I’ve done a couple of on call shifts this week which has meant staying until nine o clock on two nights. I really enjoyed it because once again it was a really good chance to get involved with the clinical team. It was probably the most involved I’ve felt with a clinical team while I’ve been studying medicine.

I’m very happy with my placements and hope I can make the best out of them. In recent years the curriculum at Cardiff has changed substantially and a number of exciting developments have taken hold that hopefully will enable us to enjoy the course more and become better Doctors. In fact, the ranking of the medical school has improved dramatically to being third in the UK now which is a pretty incredible achievement. Now instead of sitting exams all at the end we do a finals paper three times throughout the academic year (with the marks adjusted for 4th years). This encourages us to learn continuously with the first exam being in November. Its quite scary to be examined so soon but I think overall it will be a good thing. We are required to sit three progress tests next year each of which with an equal waiting to our mark and then also sit a final ISCE. This is a clinical exam where students are asked to communicate with patients, examine them and perform clinical skills. This is usually quite stressful but tend to be quite interesting exams and are a good way of testing how you would behave in an actual clinical setting. The 4th year in the old curriculum had lots of exams in the end going on until late July which meant it was a really long academic year and was quite exhausting for the students doing it. Now our exams are in May of 4th year and then we are done until 5th year. We then proceed to do a research project for the remainder of the year called an SSC. An SSC is a period where we undertake a research project in any field we want. This is a good chance to focus on developing interests and studying thing that might be of interest later on in our careers, at the moment I’m torn about what I would like to do but think it will be paediatric based. What exactly, I’m unsure of as yet

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