Yay, so here’s where the fun begins! The long wait for the clinical part of the course has finally come to an end and you’re hitting the hospitals. You’re looking dapper in your work clothes and all your friends think you’re now a doctor with very important duties. Doctors mistake you for interns and you feel ready to save the world when you put on your scrubs for the first time. Em…maybe not.
Everything you need to know:
One thing students struggle with when they start hospitals is knowing who’s who. Firstly, each hospital has its own student co-ordinator who you’ll get to know very well from the beginning. With regard to the doctors, in each team there will be at least one intern (bottom of the pile…just finished final year), an SHO (Senior House Officer-one up from intern, although most SHO’s do two years so they may be first or second year), a registrar (higher up again), and a SpR (Specialist Registrar i.e. more senior than a reg…next best thing to a consultant!). You’ll always be able to tell the consultants from the rest of the doctors as they’ll be the ones wearing the suits! Registrars and consultants in surgery are called “Mr or Ms”, while in medicine they are called “Dr”. There are also three designated lecturers in surgery and medicine respectively and there is a Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Surgery, both of whom will be attached to a team in their own right.
What to Wear…
Once your hospital rotations start you’ll be wearing your “hospital clothes” every day. You must wear your white coats everyday and are not allowed onto the wards without them. You’ll also need your ID badge to get into various parts of the hospital building and although it’s never been said, there is an unwritten rule that medical students should never wear their stethoscope around their neck so stuff it in your pocket until you qualify!
Medicine & Surgery:
These are split into two blocks each that you sit in Sep-Nov then Jan-Mar. There is a huge amount to take in so we recommend that you get on top of things from day 1 (like you do every year yeah ?). The days are long and you’ll have to be with your teams in the morning and afternoons before two hours of lectures in the evenings. These are given in either the Mater or Vinnies and streamed to the other hospital. Make sure to show up on time for these lectures as most of the people giving the lectures are consultants, and don’t take kindly to people being late. The login for the lectures will be floating about (someone generally grabs it from one of the peripheral hospitals) so you’ll be able to log in to the lectures at home if you’re sick (or lazy).This does really slow down the connection though so when everybody cops onto this later on in the semester it makes viewing them pretty difficult.
The amount you learn with your teams is entirely up to yourself. If you’re interested and polite, most of the doctors from interns to consultant level are more than happy to teach you a bunch. Although it may be tempting to just hit the books, you tend to remember things really well if you actually see them in person. One great tip I was given by an intern was to note down things you see during the day and look them up THE SAME day/evening as it will really stick in your memory.
However, you aren’t going to earn any brownie points or golden stars for standing around in hospital doing nothing, so if you feel nothing is going on hit the library for a while. There is a fine balance to be struck between clinical exposure and academic learning. Make sure to look up the medical and surgical tutorials that are on during the day too. You’ll most likely be given a timetable of the ones you are supposed to attend on Day 1 on blackboard. In reality, a lot of people don’t show up to these, but they are fantastic training for your OSCEs. You’ll feel very intimidated the first time you get a grilling in front of a patient but with time you’ll get slick at answering the questions.
Make sure to go to the Seery tutorials on Friday afternoons in Vinnies as they are great for the OSCEs.
In November, you’ll have your Medicine OSCEs. These are very predictable so start practicing your physical exams early on and you’ll fly through them.
After the Christmas break you dive back into the thick of things for 12 weeks. There will be no more surgery lectures but the medical ones continue and focus more on emergency medicine and data interpretation. You’ll continue to rotate around the different teams on surgery and will do another two blocks in Medicine (one in Dublin and one in a peripheral).
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine – This is your bible. I was told early on by an intern that you’d score an A in Medicine if you knew this “little book”. You’ll soon discover it is packed with information and it often feels like an onion, each time you read it you go one layer deeper.
Data Interpretation by Pastest- Most of our year used this for the data interpretation. It was really clear and gave you a good base to work off. I’d recommend knowing the clinical biochemistry section of the Oxford Handbook really well for you data examination too (especially electrolytes !).
Flesh and Bones: This definitely seemed to be the most popular book for Surgery. It has most of the important stuff in it but you’ll need to check the lecture topics list as some of the lectures aren’t covered in here (or very lightly) so you’ll need to use another resource for those (EG: Tetanus).
There are plenty of other books you can use too such as Rapid Surgery, Surgery Recall and Surgery at a Glance. We recommend you stick to one or two books and know those well or you’ll have difficulty covering everything.
Medscape: A fantastic website for everything medicine based and will provide you with more accurate and up to date information than Wikipedia for most topics. It is a great tool but there is often much more detail here than you’ll need for your exam so don’t bother about trying to memorise. However this detail can often be valuable in understanding a concept which makes it much easier to memorise once you use to something more high yield like Oxford.
Online MCQ Banks: These can be great for doing a bit of study when you can’t hack the books and need something more interactive. I used Passmedicine as it was the cheapest (#studentlife haha) and I was really impressed by what was offered. Other sites are Pastest and Onexamination.
Check out some reviews here (with links to the others at the bottom of the page): http://almostadoctor.co.uk/content/passmedicine
Forensic and Legal Medicine:
This module takes place during the 3 weeks before the Christmas break. It is nice to be back in UCD with your pals from the other hospital. The module is fairly relaxed but watch out for spot checks/sign in sheets for attendance during lectures. These will happen a couple of times during the module. There is a joke that everyone gets a C in the module but if you try really hard you may get a bit better than that (although As are pretty damn rare).
The lectures are a great core for your learning and you’ll find many resources online if you need to add anything to your notes. There is a book recommended for the module but you really don’t need it unless you’re gunning for an A+ (lol jk, nobody gets that). If you’re quick to the starting blocks (ie the library), you may be able to nab a copy of it at the start of the module. There is a free pdf of the UK version of the book available on the UCD library website but be aware that some of the laws are slightly different.
You’ll be given cases to prepare in groups for a presentation near the end of the module and one of the cases is guaranteed to come up on the exam so make sure to know these well.
After your MED 2 and Surgery B rotations you’ll be starting your specialist rotations.
Check out this fantastic guidebook for all Res Year - including your specialist rotations