STAGE FOUR

Everything you need to know:

So all of a sudden its not pre-med anymore and you find yourself entering 4th year, hitting that wall of realization that you're beyond half way to finishing your medical degree and still know next to nothing. It's nice really only being half-way while the rest of your friends have probably already graduated from other courses!

4th year, otherwise known as 3rd med, is split into 2 semesters. First you will complete your pre-clinical learning - semester 1 of 3rd med is a continuation of your Pathology, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology - you will do 5 core modules; Haematology/Immunosuppression, Respiratory Diseases, Endocrine Diseases, GI/Hepatobiliary Diseases, and CNS Diseases. This will be in the typical fashion of having mounds of information thrown at you on each subject during 12 weeks and then being given a study week where you hope to cram the 12 weeks into your brain by the end of it. And it will be highly likely that you will do the exams in the typical torturous 5 exams in 5 days format - put in the work and you will get through it!

Second semester gets a little confusing - you will have 4 core modules - 2x10 credit modules: Clinical Skills and Therapeutics, and 2x5 credit modules: Ophthalmology/Otolaryngology and GP & Professionalism.

First you will do an 8 week block - first 4 weeks will be lectures in the 4 modules and then during the remaining 4 weeks you will spend 1 week at a GP practice, 1 week at a community hospital (COVID-depending, as last year it didn’t happen), 1 week learning 'clinical skills' (finally!) and a 'light reading' week. For most of you it will be your first proper exposure to the medical world - scary but very exciting! And then after those 8 weeks you will have a week of exams for the 4 modules - completing the 5 credit modules and then completing a percentage of your 10 credit modules - you will have your final exams for these at the end of the year.

After the first 9 weeks you will then begin the great adventure that is known as BABY RES!! Kind of like transition year in UCD medical school - you've finally completed all your pre-clinical studies and after all that super hard work for nearly 4 years you finally get to enjoy the wonders of hospitals. You will have 2 blocks of rotations in 2 hospitals – last year there was a 3-week block and then a 2-week block. The hospitals you could be placed in include the Mater, St Vincent’s, Loughlinstown, St Michael’s, Beacon, Wexford and Mullingar. You may be in one hospital for all 5 weeks or you may be in two different ones.

It's important to make the most of the hospital experience during baby res - the interns are usually very helpful and want to teach you cool stuff. You will be exposed to both medicine and surgery during the rotations and it will finally start to feel like you're learning something useful! 

Baby Res is a great opportunity to do some of the things that we won’t have much time to do in Res Year. This includes standing in (and maybe scrubbing in) on some surgery or going on Ward Rounds with your team. Hospital attendance is very much left to one’s own discretion because you will have no one watching over you!

At the end of baby res, you will have to do a long case for your Clinical Skills module - where you will get to show your newfound skills of history taking and clinical examinations. It's important that you get used to talking to patients and practice presenting cases before your long case - the examiners are usually able to tell who has been coming into hospitals and who has been on a 7 weeklong vacation! Be careful.

Therapeutics is completed with an open book BNF online exam - basically testing to see how quick you can type CTRL-F on the BNF page. It's a bit like a fun computer game!

Overall 3rd med will be the most enjoyable year for a lot of you - first semester may feel very repetitive and will be very much like the semesters you've seen before, you will probably feel grim at times as you sit at your same seat in Health Science Library during those dark winter evenings for the 4th year running.. But just remember you will then be going into a semester after Christmas where everything you've learned so far will finally be worth it and you'll get to enjoy some real clinical exposure. Not to forget spending many fun hours deciding which colour stethoscope you're gonna get, and a great FB profiler update after White coat ceremony in February ;)