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Dim ond yng Nghaerdydd

Student Selected Components

24 Tachwedd 2014

Hello everyone! Once again I’ve had such a busy month this November in University. As we have whizzed through two more cases from our year 2 cased based learning, and also have had a week of something a little different. This week was part of ‘Student Selected Components (SSCs).’ Which are an opportunity for us medical students to choose a topic to study that interests us, which stretches beyond the standard medical curriculum here at Cardiff.

Student Selected Components actually form part of the curriculum in each of the five years of the medical degree programme, meaning that every year we are able to dive a little deeper into topics that interest us or we can try something new every time. So I think you can tell where this is going….! I’ll be giving you a little run through of two of the SSCs I have done since being at Cardiff University (one from year 1 and one from year 2).


Year 1 SSC- Literature Project- Rural Health Weekend

In year 1, one of the SSCs you will do is called the ‘Literature Project’. Now the literature project as the name suggests nearly always involves writing an essay about your chosen topic. With the literature SSC we have a week off timetable in order to complete the assignment, giving us the time to read any relevant research papers we may need or to meet up with our tutors for guidance about the project.  So in year 1 we choose our literature projects from a huge list of titles (I think there were over 50!) and we rank them in order of preference. The list is so comprehensive that there is bound to be something for everyone, with topics ranging from public health and the effects of disease and the importance of certain drugs… to my SSC which was a Rural Health Weekend (and nearly everyone’s number 1 choice!).

So the rural heath weekend SSC was absolutely awesome! It actually ran on a weekend in March (so nearly 2 months ahead of the actual literature project week) meaning that we could write our essay about the weekend in that allocated week or we could do it as soon as the weekend was over. Meaning we could get it out of the way so we could have the allocated week off to revise for our summer exams. The weekend actually involved 16 of us leaving Cardiff and heading up to Newtown, which is in Mid Wales and we stayed in Gregynog Hall which was a huge country manor on a vast estate- complete with pheasants!

So while we were in Newtown our aim was to try and learn a little bit about and gain an appreciation of rural medicine and how it differs so greatly from how we practice medicine in city areas such as Cardiff. Our SSC was actually run by a rural GP, who gave us a few talks about how to cope in certain situations. Where for example you may urgently need an ambulance for a patient but it’s going to take over 30 minutes to arrive. We also had talks about practicing medicine abroad in rural areas such as the outback in Australia and on expeditions in places such as Antarctica where your closest hospital might be a plane journey away. The weekend also involved a little bit of placement, as we went to a rural hospital which believe it or not only had one ward, a nurse led A and E and finally a small radiology department. We also visited a midwife led birthing centre where pregnant women in rural areas such as Newtown can choose to have their babies.

But aside from the medicine side of things the weekend was also fantastic because on Saturday afternoon we headed up to an outdoor pursuit centre to have a go at indoor caving, climbing up rock walls, abseiling and taking a leaps of faith from the tops of precarious looking towers (we were harnessed of course!). The weekend was also a great way to meet other people from the course, as most of us had never met before. And finally, something which is also of great importance to the student population. Every morning we had a buffet breakfast, two course lunch and three course dinner (and plenty of tea and biscuit breaks!). When we were actually on the way back to Cardiff we were all so full that the thought of any food over the next few days was too much to even think about!

Year 2 SSC- Experience Week- Diagnostic Radiology

So my year 2 SSC this month was a little different to my rural health weekend. The SSC firstly wasn’t a literature project but an experience week, so it was almost like going on a really specific placement. The SSC I chose was actually in radiology, so I spent the week shadowing various doctors and seeing what they get up to in the department. There were just 4 of us on this SSC so each morning and afternoon we all got split up so we could all see everything. During the week I learnt all about MRI, CT, Ultrasound and PET scans. As well as all about X-rays, nuclear medicine and something called interventional radiology- which is when radiologists can perform surgical procedures which are guided with radiological images. What I really enjoyed about this placement was how I got to see a bit of everything, I got to experience surgery in interventional radiology and some antenatal care in the ultrasound department. The SSC also actually allowed me to really learn a lot about radiology and how to read and spot things on scans and images (which hopefully will prove useful for this year’s exams!). The assessment for my experience week was a little different from the essay I had to do for my rural health weekend, I actually gave a presentation to the two consultants who were running the SSC about a certain patient case I had come across during the week.

Just like the literature projects from year 1, for the experience weeks we were given another huge list of projects we could pick from and rank (once again I think there was nearly 60!). Again with a huge range to pick from. So while I spent a week in the radiology department on placement, my housemate Lowri spent the week doing life drawing classes which had an anatomical spin on them. So really something for everyone! If you take a look at the two of our assessments you can really see where the artistic talents lie in our house! (Definitely not with me!).

So I hope that gives you a little idea about what SSCs are like here at Cardiff! Now it’s really about time that I start getting ready for this afternoons case group and lectures!