Hello guys, I apologise as I realize this blog entry is a bit delayed because I have had a couple of things on my plate for the last couple of weeks. First of all, it was the progress test (see last month’s blog for a full breakdown of my anxiety levels) before the introductory week to the next and final placement of fourth year. The block started well with what was probably the best introductory lecture week of the year. The way medicine works in 4th year at Cardiff is that you complete a week of introductory lectures on the block you are about to study, you then complete the block and have a wrap up week to help you consolidate what you have learned in that same block. So after the exam we had a week or so in lectures and I have started my final block of placement of the year which consists of neurology, psychiatry and ophthalmology. An added twist to this block is that I am up in Bangor for it. Even though I’m from near Bangor I was still a bit apprehensive about the prospect of coming up here for 8 weeks.
However so far so good, the accommodation we are provided (free of charge of course) is really really good and a number of friends are up here as well so it should make for a fun 7 weeks. Given it’s in the lead up to what is essentially our finals its good not to be wasting time commuting in and out of placement and just to be conveniently located on site. Everyone also appears to be really friendly and keen to get us involved which is good so I’m hoping placement wise it will make for a good 7 weeks. The main reason it’s worth mentioning is that a lot of medical schools send you away to certain places for big chunks of the year so if your thinking about studying medicine it’s a consideration you probably need to think about making. Overall many people enjoy being away and often because the smaller hospitals are less saturated with students the Doctors are more likely to want to teach and get you involved on the ward which is good. At the moment I’m doing psychiatry which isn’t too hands on but its been a really really interesting placement!
So what does Cardiff offer you in terms of away placements, from third year you can be sent anywhere in Wales for your placements (unless you have a health or other personal reason for needing to be in Cardiff). This is something that people understandably complain about at times but I personally think it’s one of the advantages of studying medicine in Wales. First of all, from an academic perspective it provides a diverse demographic of patients to learn from in many different environments. This ranges from busy A and E departments in Cardiff and Swansea to rural GP practice’s in West and North Wales. This is a really good thing about studying medicine at Cardiff. In addition, sending medical students away for their placements is not something unique to Cardiff and many other medical schools are known to do it to achieve the leaning needs of their students. However, on top of this the reality is that many of the parts of Wales Cardiff send students too are much more pleasant than the towns in England that some of my friends who are studying medicine in England have been sent! (I won’t name any). For example, near me there are fabulous beaches in Anglesey and the mountains of Snowdonia are a mere 5 minutes drive away. This essentially means Cardiff in many respects provides you a good deal with accommodation provided to any placement that is over 40 minutes commute from Cardiff which again is a much better deal than at many other UK medical Schools.
In summary then, being away is a pretty good deal if you are a Cardiff medic. It helps you achieve a better learning experience, a fuller grasp of what medicine is like in different contexts and the chance to see some amazing places!