Hello everyone! I hope that you are all enjoying yourselves now that you are back at uni and that you’re hopefully exam free! It doesn’t really feel like I’ve just come back at all, as I actually started second term back on the 5th of January and since then have completed two more cases (only four more to go and then its third year!), moved from Newport to Merthyr Tydfil on placement and have spent my Saturdays giving lectures to sixth formers who are hoping to study medicine. So one question that I find that I keep on getting asked, by not just prospective students but also medics in older years is what do you actually do in your two week cases? So for our last case on the heart (without giving too much away!) here’s what we got up to…
Monday Week 1
The first Monday of the case is actually free for most students in second year, as our cases now run on a Tuesday to Tuesday basis. However for about 50 students every two weeks, they will be doing one of two things on that Monday. The first is learning how to perform certain intimate examinations in small groups of 4. At the moment students in year 2 are learning how to perform a breast examination and how to take an adequate history from patient’s who present with such complaints. While other groups of students will be up in clinical skills, working on their communication skills with patients, practicing taking histories and explaining to them different medical conditions in layman’s terms- which I’ve been told is actually really difficult! Those of us with the day off have ‘self-directed learning’ which gives us time to either finish different bits and pieces from the last case or catch a breath before the next one starts.
Tuesday Week 1
This is when we have our first case-based learning session. There are 30 cased based learning (CBL) groups in year 2, with half meeting in the morning and half meeting in the afternoon. In this session (which lasts 3 hours) we are presented with the case by our facilitator, and we work through it identifying the problems and questions we need to answer in our self-directed learning. Most groups like ours also have a pretty serious cake club going on, with someone bringing in home-baked treats to get us through every session! Other than this, the rest of the day is free for us to begin working our way through our learning outcomes ready for our next CBL session.
Wednesday Week 1 and 2
We were all actually pretty spoiled this case as we had both Wednesdays off for self-directed learning. So that meant a good opportunity for a lie in followed by a day of case work (and fun breaks in between). There is actually a deli at the top of our road so my housemates and I made the 1 minute trip up there for some brunch! And then depending on how brave you were feeling before placement… some of you may or may not have made it to the LASH at the union!
Thursday Week 1
So the first Thursday of the case is when I go on placement! So that means heading up to Merthyr Tydfil for a mixture of teaching sessions, clinics and GP placements. Seeing as this case was about the heart, we were taught in small groups by two 5th year students about how to take a focussed cardiovascular history and how to perform a cardiovascular examination on patients. As I’m in Merthyr that means I’m taught in the new and shiny Kier Hardy centre which you may have seen on the news! Just last night I was caught off guard when suddenly there was a news report about keeping doctors in Wales and I saw lots of my friends on screen while on placement. There is no hiding when you’re wearing those red lanyards!
Friday Week 1
Fridays tend to be spent in the lecture theatres where we have plenaries which relate to the case we are doing. So for this case I had one lecture on relevant physiology, one lecture on the clinical presentation of certain heart conditions and in the afternoon a 2 hour symposium on cardiac arrhythmias.
Monday Week 2
The second Monday also tends to be spent in the lecture theatres. For this case we had a couple of lectures about the various treatments that are available for certain cardiac problems. The lectures were in the morning so the rest of the day was allocated to self-directed learning, making sure that we had all completed the work we needed to ready for our second case session on Tuesday.
Tuesday Week 2
This is when we have our second case session which also lasts for about 3 hours. In this time we discuss all of the information we have learnt about the case with each other, working our way through the learning outcomes we had given ourselves as a group. It’s a great opportunity to work through things you might not have understood as a team and once again there is always some kind of cake going! The remainder of the session is when we deal with what is called the ‘reveal’ of the case. We are given extra information about the hypothetical patient we have been studying. From this extra information we then generate more learning outcomes and things we need to look up ready for Friday, when we have our final case session.
Thursday Week 2
We spent our Thursday also as a case group, but this time we weren’t tackling the case but rather we were in a 3 hour ECG tutorial. Being shown how they are recorded, how they work and how to identify and diagnose certain heart problems on the trace. Also if you were up at the Heath Hospital on this Thursday you might have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of HRH The Princess Royal, who was visiting the university in celebration of 50 years of Occupational Therapy Education.
Friday Week 2
This Friday marks the end of the case, in the morning we have a 2 hour case session with our groups to discuss our findings regarding the ‘reveal’ we received on Tuesday. We are now able to discuss the case in its entirety after piecing together all the different things we have learnt. In the afternoon we then attend a ‘Case Wrap Up’ which is a 2 hour lecture delivered to us by the case writers. This session makes sure that we are all the same page with our learning, gives an opportunity for students to ask questions about the case, and also includes some example exam style questions for us to complete. Then that’s it! The case is over and it all begins again on Monday… eat, sleep, case, repeat.
See you soon!