After spending over 100 hours in the dissecting room, bulk buying poly pockets and finally learning which way to put the stethoscope in my ears, my first year at medical school is coming to an end! And what can I say? My year as a fresher certainly did not disappoint! It still feels like only yesterday when my parents dropped me off at my new home at Talybont. With the car overflowing with all those ‘essential’ clothes that I expected to fit in a one door wardrobe, and a multitude of cooking utensils that my parents optimistically thought I would know how to use. So people really aren’t lying when they tell you how quickly your university years flash by! Especially when I think I’m now 1/5th of the way to becoming a doctor, SCARY!
My first year at Cardiff has definitely been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and I hope I can give you a whistle stop tour of my favourite parts of one of the best years of my life so far.
Eagerly knocking on my fellow medic flatmate’s door at 7am every Thursday meant only one thing, and no, not that I had managed to emerge from my bed at an impressive hour following the lash, but PLACEMENT! In Cardiff we are given the unique opportunity from first year to go on placements each week in one of 4 hubs in South Wales, including Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil. On placements we spent time at GP practices going on home visits and getting to take medical histories from the patients we saw. Who would have thought that would happen in first year? I found placement to be a great break from lectures and a real chance to start learning and enhancing the skills I’m going to need as a doctor. (It also made me feel very excited to wear my stethoscope around my neck!). As part of our placements, we also spent half of the day learning clinical skills, and because I was placed in Cardiff, that meant I was taught in the shiny, new and perfectly equipped Cochrane Building; to learn procedures that originally were reserved for third years and above, including male catheterisation, physical examinations and how to administer injections. Making placement one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had as part of the C21 course to date.
Did someone say work hard, play hard? Of course they did. Because as medics that is the mantra we all swear to live by. Although in the winter months we frequently leave in the dark and come back in the dark, doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy our fair share of socials, nights out and embarrassing fancy dress parties. Being part of the medical school means we get to go on plenty of socials as a year group, allowing us to get to know each other outside of lectures. During my first year we had socials ranging from a back to school disco with our medic parents, as well as nights out in Cardiff dressed as army cadets and members of the nativity at Christmas. Also if there is one thing that medics love more than anything else it’s the chance to suit up and most likely recycle your prom dresses from school, for the Fresher’s Ball and the Pre Clinical Ball! With the balls held at the Millennium and SWALEC Stadiums, the MedSoc committee are no strangers to knowing what makes a great night, providing us with the first 3 course meal most of us probably would have eaten since moving into halls, and well most importantly, what felt like unlimited wine!
Becoming a student at Cardiff University also meant that I now had the opportunity to join and become a part of as many, or as few societies and clubs that I wanted to. And the best thing about the societies and sports teams is that there is literally something for everyone, whether you’re into bringing out your inner ‘pitch perfect’ and joining the acapella group or want to try a new sport such as ultimate Frisbee. You are sure to find something to do with your spare evenings each week. One of my favourite societies I joined this year was Sexpression, a nationwide group run by healthcare students which teach sex education in local high schools and sixth form colleges. This volunteering opportunity not only allowed me to help deliver the teaching in schools but also meant that I was able to make friends with other healthcare students in other years. To bring out my sporty side, I also embarked on the challenge of learning a new sport, and joined the university lacrosse team. (My desire to do so may or may not have come from watching wild child too much!). Lacrosse was incredibly convenient, with the training held in Talybont and was a great chance to meet more students studying a huge range of different courses, not just those which were healthcare based.
So I hope I’ve managed to give you a little insight into my first year in medical school, and now I really ought to get back to revision! You know its exam season when your fruit bowl is now filled with chocolate, and there is an alarmingly large amount of energy drinks in the fridge!
When I started writing this blog, I was actually revising…but I’ve now finished my exams and first year is now officially over! After surviving the post exam socials and nights out, I can assure you that my fruit bowl now actually contains fruit… (promise!)
See you soon!