Student blog post

A day in the life of a first year medical student

Navin gives an insight into the typical day of a medical student.

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As a medical student, what better day to share about than the day we had our first formative assessment?  To begin with, a formative assessment is a test that we sit for to test ourselves on how much we know and don’t know; it is not counted toward our final grade, so it’s a conducive time to test ourselves. It being our first time sitting for such an examination, and it was an eye-opening experience.

The beginning

To start off the day, I woke up at around 7.30 am and carried out my regular morning routine; then I had my breakfast while I watched the daily headlines though a live telecast of a local News channel.  After that, it's off to the lectures of the day; every day of the week (at least since I started) we attend lectures on various topics for three straight hours. It may seem daunting, but trust me, it is worse than that than you think! Not one day has passed without me dozing off in the middle of at least one of the lectures (not proud, but it happens – sorry lecturers).

Life sciences building

The front of the Medical Science block where we had our lectures 

To be honest, it is not the lecturers’ fault completely; sometimes after a night out or in the case of the formative day, a night of intense revision; it is just plain hard to concentrate and stay awake in lectures.  Then again, DO NOT SLEEP in lectures, you might think no one noticed but everyone does! I still remember the first time I dozed off, everyone around me was like, “Wow! Navin you slept!” It may have been because I was an international, as that comes with some expectations that I always have to stay awake and be completely concentrated (I mean come on…that’s a hard stereotype to live up to). But yeah, the moral of the story is: don’t sleep in lectures because you will miss out on a lot of important information that will surely be tested.

So, after the long morning of lectures and information overload, most of the time, we will have a 2-hour break before the second half of the day. This is when you finally wake up, have lunch, watch some shows or even arrange for your small group meetings if there is any work that needs to be done. Honestly, this is the time of the day I look forward to, mainly because it's lunchtime but also, it signifies the end of lectures for the day and we can look forward to doing something fun/interesting to do for the afternoon.

Second half

In the second part of the day, what we do varies widely: clinical skills practice, General practice small group sessions, lab sessions or even GP visit/patient journeys. But today was not one of those days, it was our formative assessment.  We headed to the Tower Building, which is supposedly the place we will be doing most of our assessments in the near future. Since most of our assessments in the first year are multiple-choice based, we were in the computer suites which will be where we would be doing most of our tests. The test itself was not much of an issue; we were tested on the various aspects of principles of medicine we were taught during the first 8 weeks of our medical academic year:  Anatomy, Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology (etc.).

Tower Building as viewed from Nethergate

Tower Building, where we did our tests

If it not had been formative, Wednesday afternoons are usually reserved for sports and leisure.  On other days, like said above there is a wide array of things we do, and most of the time it is in our second home, Ninewells Hospital. Here we do our clinical practice sessions where we learn key concepts of the clinical aspect of medicine, it ranges from first-hand experiences of history taking and learning about potential sources of problems and complications that might arise when we treat a patient. Sometimes we even get to go to local General Practices, to learn how an actual clinic works and know about who does what in those clinics. As prospectus doctors, it gives us an insight into what we will be doing in the near future and gives us a glimpse of the lifestyle and the type of patients we might be seeing when we finally become doctors.

And that concludes a day….psych! Of course, it does not stop there, after school is when the fun starts. Medics are not all work no play Joes. We play hard and work harder!  The type of night out is dependent if there is anything going on in the Union, of course, this would also mean pre and post-parties. So….if you are a student still deciding to do medicine, here is my advice: It is gonna be tough, boring and very dry at times (actually most of the time) but don’t let that hinder you in doing what you want because, at the end of the day knowing you are one step closer to becoming someone you have dreamed of since you were young, makes it all worth it!!

Reflections on week 7

Well, this week was quite eventful, I got to know where I stood relative to my cohort, and got to know where I should put more effort in helping me fill in those knowledge gaps. Though, this test does not matter at all and has zero impact on anything, it is very useful in knowing how well you have learnt and lets you know how much more we need to do. I know some medics out there, including myself, might feel down or discouraged by your score for this test, this is what I have to say: it’s alright, things will get better! Honestly, how hard can it be?

Navin Kumar Subramanian

Navin studied Medicine at the University and is from Singapore.

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