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Life as a medical student: Clinical demonstrations

vicky hargest medical pre-medical student“During my IMMS (Introduction to Medicine and Medical Science) there have been a number of introductory lectures which give an overview of the body systems, but by far the most interesting aspects of this module has been the clinical demonstrations,” explains Vicky Hargest, medical student.

Every fortnight a doctor presents a real life patient from one of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and we are able to ask questions in order to ascertain what could be causing the symptoms. So far we have been introduced to some core common complaints such as diarrhoea, jaundice and joint pain. In what is called an Integrated Learning Activity (ILA), we are then given a number of objectives to research in small groups and present our findings to a doctor a few days later.

Whilst we are not expected to come up with a diagnosis we are expected to have a reasonable knowledge of the body system involved and be able to discuss the science behind the symptoms. At first the idea of presenting was a little intimidating, however once you get to know your doctor it is clear that they are there to help you learn and understand and not to try and catch you out.

Learning a new language

We are also being slowly introduced to human anatomy through dissection. Although we won’t be exposed to our cadavers until the next module, we are viewing prosections of a different body system each week and discussing surface anatomy, structure and function, and generally getting to grips with the terminology. With thousands of new words to learn in just this phase alone it is best to start early and use words such as ‘anterior’ and ‘distal’ rather than ‘front’ and ‘furthest away’.

Keep on top of the work load

I already feel that I have gained a huge amount of knowledge in such a short space of time. I recognise how this course could seem overwhelming, however the key is to try and keep on top of the workload. One useful way to do this is via the formative assessment that we are expected to complete online every week. This assessment does not count to the end of year exams in May; however it is one way of testing your knowledge and seeing how much you have taken in over the previous week.

There is no time limit and books are allowed as it encourages further reading and research. The questions are multiple choice and are based around anything learnt from past lectures, demonstrations and seminars and can even include making a diagnosis based on a set of given symptoms. The feedback comes in the form of a lecture and is a valuable learning tool. It really does keep you on your toes.

Fancy dress nights

Whilst it may seem that the Introduction to Medicine and Medical Science has been all work and no play that is certainly not the case. There have been a whole host of opportunities to socialise with students from across all the phases including a buddy scheme, fancy dress nights, a formal ball and lots of charity events. With so many people in the year there are still some unfamiliar faces, however I am looking forward to getting to know more of them over the coming weeks.

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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