After recently finding out which hospital I’ll be working in for my first two years as a doctor, the culmination of medical school feels very much in sight. I officially finish in the first week of June 2019, marking the completion of six years of medical school. After a six week break (in which there will be a lot of travelling abroad), I will begin work at the very same hospital I was born in. Moreover, my first four-month rotation is in Obstetrics & Gynaecology which means that I will be returning to the exact maternity unit I was born in 25 years later, only this time I’ll be working there!
My final year of medical school has comprised five different blocks, each lasting six weeks. We get to choose which blocks/specialties we want to do and if you’re lucky enough (like me) you get your first choices. I started the year on Renal Medicine, which I quickly discovered is an incredibly interesting and fulfilling speciality. It involved looking after patients with an array of conditions including inflammatory conditions, acute life-threatening conditions, diabetic complications and kidney transplants amongst others. Furthermore, the team I was a part of was absolutely fantastic and Renal ending up being my favourite block of the year and by the end of the six weeks, I had learnt and achieved so much, that I felt ready to start my foundation years as a doctor.
Next up was cardio-thoracic surgery. This is the type of surgery that deals with heart problems such as valvular defects and blocked coronary arteries as well as lung and other chest problems such as lung cancer and lung resections. As someone who does not find surgery all too interesting, I chose this type of surgery because it always fascinates and interests me how it is possible to make the heart completely stop beating, put the patient on a heart-lung bypass machine and then fix whatever needs fixing. It was a true pleasure to be a part of and I got to be involved in harvesting leg veins that were used for the bypass surgery.
My third block was Emergency medicine which I was very excited for since this is the specialty I will be pursuing in the future. It was great to be a part of the emergency department team again and the learning and experience I had gained from my electives and my intercalated BSc in Emergency Care paid dividends. This block just further cemented my love for EM and as part of this block we also did a pre-hospital shift with the ambulance service which was a great day filled with a variety of presentations, including the need for us to drive the ambulance onto a ferry to cross a river so we could help a road traffic collision patient who was trapped in the car!
My penultimate block was Paediatric anaesthetics. Although this is a very specialised field, I was given the opportunity to get stuck in right from day one by doing airway manoeuvres, putting in airway devices and cannulating small children//babies. I had one-to-one time every single day with a Consultant which meant that by the end of the block, I had progressed massively in my knowledge of anaesthesia and in my practical skills to the point that I was even complemented by a Consultant as being better than some of the Registrar doctors!
I am now finishing up my six years of medical school with a six week block of General Practice. I really enjoy GP, despite the sometimes negative stigma that is wrongly attached to it. As a student, I am given more time with each patient which means I can fully explore their concerns and ensure that any underlying anxieties or hidden agendas are addressed. It feels very gratifying when, just by simply reassuring a patient or offering a treatment for a condition they thought they would just have to put up with, I’m able to make a difference to someone’s life. Sadly, we are also seeing more and more ill mental health in GP and by being the person they can trust completely and open up to, I feel able to build a rapport with these patients and ensure they can get the help they need.
I feel very fortunate and blessed to be finishing medical school with such a fantastic final year filled with a great variety of specialties, allowing me to immerse myself in a whole host of learning experiences that will undoubtedly hold me in good stead going forward. I now feel adequately prepared and ready to start work after graduation rather than nervous, which is a massive credit to my medical school. I am very much looking forward to the upcoming challenges of being a doctor as this presents an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Overall, this final year has been extremely relaxed as at our medical school we sit our finals at the end of the previous year, meaning the only assessments we had throughout the year were the placement-based assessments e.g. cased-base discussions and CEXs and competencies as well as two MCQs that we had to pass and the SJT and PSA. Now that all of these have been done, it is just a case of cruising through the next few weeks and enjoying my last few moments as a medical student.
This academic year has been filled with many new experiences already including multiple holidays, meeting new people, charity dinners, teaching other medical students, interviewing future students, ventures with family and friends, reading many amazing books and planning ahead for the ‘real world’ including searching for a new car and familiarising myself with the junior doctors’ contract. I have also just began fasting today as it is the month of Ramadan which adds even more excitement as this is a great time for introspection, charity, reflection and strengthening ties with family, friends and my community. I feel extremely grateful and privileged to have had such an incredible six years, allowing me to work towards my dream life.