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Life as a medical student: Beyond lectures

vicky hargest medical pre-medical student“Lectures and clinical demonstrations make up a large proportion of the teaching at Sheffield, but what keeps this course really interesting is the opportunity for self-directed learning and small group work where we gain knowledge of physiology, anatomy and clinical skills,” explains Vicky Hargest, medical student.

Physiology practicals run alongside lectures and complement the module that is currently being taught. For example, within the cardiovascular module we visit the labs in small groups and try out various pieces of equipment on each other in order to measure and interpret normal and abnormal heart sounds, ECGs and the effects of posture changes and exercise on the heart.

We are very fortunate to be facilitated by junior doctors; not only are they willing to share their knowledge, they are also happy to divulge the highs and lows of working on the wards. I even think some of them secretly wish they were still students!

Working with cadavers

Having been introduced to human prosections during the IMMS (Introduction to Medicine and Medical Science) module I was somewhat keen to experience dissection with the cadavers. Walking into a room with numerous bodies laid out is quite an experience and making the first incision is one that I will never forget.

Now that I have worked with my cadaver a few times I find that can detach myself to some extent and concentrate on learning anatomy. Once again we focus on the body systems within the modules, starting with the thorax where we have dissected out the heart and lungs, the great vessels, and nerves. Learning all the terminology can be a little overwhelming so it is a definite advantage to read anatomy books before each session.

Training at the clinical skills centre

Like most other medics I get excited by the idea of clinical practice, so the opportunity for hands on training at the clinical skills centre is always appreciated. I initially had visions of administering injections and carrying out the Heimlich manoeuvre on real life patients, but at this stage we are only let loose on the likes of Resus Anne, our resident manikin.

We have also been taught how to wash our hands for the purpose of clinical practice and have been made aware of the new “bare below the elbow” policy being implemented across hospitals to reduce infection. I now appreciate how fundamental these skills are and I guess we all have to start with the basics.

About Vicky

Vicky Hargest is a medical student at the University of Sheffield. Although she has an arts degree (health studies) she has taken the pre-med route (six year course) in order to learn foundation sciences.

She is the first in her family to enter higher education - proving that medicine is for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Having worked in medical education for the last six years she is now seeing things from the other side of the fence.

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