Monthly Archives: February 2015

Poster day at last!

Before we know it, the conference came to its finale on the third day… with the poster presentation!

Over 100 posters were displayed across the two halls in the sports and social club. From wet lab to life drawing, a myriad of topics were discussed, explored between them all.

For me, this is definitely one of the highlights of the conference – to discover what kind of work others have done during our first SSC, finding out some new and interesting work, as well as hearing the ideas and thoughts of my colleagues on their work.

The atmosphere was rather informal, which really helped to make presentations less daunting and less nerve-wrecking. It was also great fun talking to everyone about our own poster (this was especially the case as my SSC project was related to one of my biggest love – art).

Here are some snaps from during the day :



Alongside the “ups”, there were unfortunately some “downs”. For example, there was some confusion with the timetabling for the day. However they were all in all, things not unique to this conference, and there are always future opportunities to make things much clearer! Overall though, the ups easily overwhelmed the downs for me.

…This is made especially so when some of your friends are the ones who have taken up the spots of “runner-ups” and “winners” – congratulations to all the prize-winners! Equally, a cheer to everyone else for their effort, thoughts, creative designs and ideas for their posters and presentations.


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers for running the conference. Although there are some areas for improvements, it has been a great first go at such an event and a lovely experience!



Before Christmas a post was made asking for students to sign up to become year 2 committee members for a conference that was still in its planning stages. As we are constantly reminded that we need to strengthen our CV we naturally grasped the opportunity. After a few meetings, SSC week 3 was upon us and the conference was beginning.Editorial Room

As a year 2 committee member we were asked to become ‘blog editors’, meaning that we would review the work of the bloggers and submit them to the blog along with pictures from our conference photographers. At 3:30pm the editorial board met, consisting of the two staff leads: Dr Hibbitts and Dr Brennan, the two year two representatives and three year five representatives. We were extremely happy by the flow of blogs created both by the final year students and by year two student bloggers. All had  great content and there was even a bilingual post which was great to see!


Grasp every opportunity but don’t spread yourself too thinly….

from Wikipedia (

(from Wikipedia)

A key message about thriving & surviving: grasp every opportunity presented to you during medical school. Really throw yourself into it both academically and outside of work. It’s good to get involved in, to meet people and gain experience. It will boost your confidence and skills, without a shadow of a doubt.

It’s important to do things that you enjoy outside of medicine too, there is always time – it’s not healthy nor productive to work all the time.

Medicine is a challenging career and requires a lot of hard work, but it helps to compartmentalise topics, plan ahead and prioritise your time carefully.

Key mottos:

  • “medicine is a marathon, not a sprint”,
  • “failing to plan is planning to fail”
  • “don’t spread yourself too thinly”.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, medicine is very demanding – focus on yourself. Don’t try too hard to meet others expectations – everyone works differently and you will find your own niche.

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Erasmus – an incredible experience abroad!

Fifth year studentFlag_of_Spain.svgs ran a fascinating workshop for 2nd year students, who were interested in an Erasmus placement. The 5th year students, who’d spend 3 months each in Paris, Nantes and Madrid, enthusiastically shared their stories and anecdotes.

The main message of the workshop was that an Erasmus placement is a fantastic opportunity and a great deal of fun! The passion and enthusiasm from the students came across strongly when they talking about their experiences, which hopefully inspired the younger students to apply for Erasmus.

They discussed the differences in doing a placement abroad, and said you often get poorer clinical experiences compared to Wales. They felt you spent more time observing than doing, although stressed this is not a reason to rule out Erasmus. You may need to work a bit harder when you return to Wales, but they all passed their exams and feel it was worth it!

Another difficulty they all shared was poor organisation and lack of information about their placements. They believed this could be overcome by getting some advice from previous Erasmus students, and happily shared their contact details for anyone wanting further advice.

Some 2nd year students asked advice on how to cope with the different languages. One of the 5th year students had only done a language up to GCSE, whilst another had previously work in the country so it was interesting hearing the different experiences. They shared tips about how to improve your language skills before going and reassured the younger students they’ll quickly pick up the language whilst out there.

Although some of the draw backs of Erasmus were discussed, the clear message of the session was Erasmus is an incredible experience and highly recommended.

Rhian Thomas, 5th Year Medical Student

Is Clinical Academia for You?

Although medical academia seems an interesting field to work in, I’ve always thought it weird for people to spend many years training to be a clinician, just to choose later in life not to work in a predominantly clinical environment. Therefore, I was eager to hear why Dr. Menna Clatworthy chose to be a clinical academic.

Dr. Clatworthy explained how she finds her work incredibly interesting and varied, she also said that there is a possibility of making a discovery that could leave a lasting legacy in the world of medicine. She explained how her academic success at medical school and doing an intercalated year led to her interest in academia.

A very balanced outlook of her career was given and Dr. Clatworthy stated one of the major cons of clinical academia was not only the pressure to get published, but to get published in a ‘good’ journal, that had a great impact.

What are the characteristics of a prospective academic? Well according to Dr. Clatworthy…

“You should quite like thinking about things… if you want immediate gratification, stick to clinical medicine”

“You should be someone who likes to persevere at things”

“You should be someone who is able to juggle many things”

I’m still unsure that medical academia is for me, but Dr. Clatworthy did highlight some interesting points and changed my previous beliefs about that career path.


“Keep calm and relax” – reporting on a T&S session….

This sharing session was quite cool. I still can remember wondering how am I going to survive the whole 5 years course? Worry, nervous, stress, all came at once to me at that time.

Some of the experience and tips shared by the fifth years:

  • Be yourself, try not to compare yourself to others
  • Know your own style of learning
  • Keep really good friends with you, when you stress out, you can chill with them
  • Ideally, have some non-medics friends
  • Don’t aim to far…one by one, aim for simple things that you can achieve
  • Be smart during placement. Know what you want to learn that day.

The participation from 2nd year students was impressive, and the session was really interactive. If there some more sharing session like this from the junior doctors I’ll definitely sign up for it.

Coverage provided by Tuan Tuan Zainal


The four students had intercalated in a variety of subjects: pharmacology, psychology and statistics, giving several different perspectives.

Initially the focus was on the pros:

Through undertaking an intercalated degree students can gain valuable new skills and enjoy a subject they are genuinely interested in. Students can also gain confidence in interpreting and analysing research papers, something that we have minimal exposure to in medical school but are expected to do throughout our medical careers. Furthermore research projects provide opportunities for students to get work published and present research at conferences.

Followed by cons:

Many students find their intercalating to be the most challenging year at medical school and the written exams can be extremely tough. The workload can be heavy – completing a research project, module coursework and summer exams.

Intercalating adds another year of study to an already long course. The talk covered the integration into the new year group and return to a medical degree after a year away. Whilst intercalating may be off putting due to moving years most students do not find this to be a problem and integrate well with a new year. Losing clinical knowledge can also be a worry to students, however, most of them found the transition back into clinical medicine to be fairly easy.

They all found intercalating to be a great experience and would highly recommend it. However, it is not for everyone and researching the degrees thoroughly before choosing is essential.

Sarah Lynch and Anon

Workshop Day: Highs and Lows

The day started with an inspirational talk by former Cardiff student, Dr Menna Clatworthy. She talked about why she went down the academic route and how rewarding a career in clinical medicine is.

So filled with enthusiasm I went off to my first workshop: Getting Involved in Research.
Expecting to be informed of how Cardiff University is able to help me get involved in the cutting edge of science, I left disappointed after a five minute talk. Neither of the speakers had attempted any research at Cardiff University or had thought to prepare anything for the talk.

Fortunately all hope was not lost.

The second workshop, ‘Thriving and Surviving’ was much more beneficial. The 5th Year Students had prepared a short presentation on what to do to keep sane and enjoy yourself whilst doing well. They spoke of how in 3rd Year we can create our own SSC and this is a good way to explore a research area that you would like to get involved in. This restored my enthusiasm from Dr Menna’s talk in the morning.

Overall, today’s conference experience had it’s highs and lows. I am definitely going to start thinking about areas of research I would like to get involved in and what tutors would be able to help me.

Samuel Willis

How do FPAS points work?

Lots of you have been asking about how foundation year applications work so here is a little bit of information on the scoring system. Foundation year is a fair few years away for us year twos , and so it’s not worth panicking and losing sleep over, but it’s always worth developing your CV and experience early and having a little think about what you can do to prepare for job applications well and set yourself up as a great candidate…

Applications will have a maximum score of 100 points and this will consist of two components:

  1. Educational Performance Measure (EPM)    50 points maximum
  2. Situation Judgement Test (SJT)   50 points maximum


Educational Performance Measure

The EPM acts as a measure of clinical and non-clinical skills, knowledge and performance up to the point of application. The EPM comprises two elements:

  • Medical school performance in deciles (up to 34-43 points)

If you are in the first decile (the top 10% of your year), you will receive a score of 43; if you are in the second decile your score will be 42; the third decile 41 and so on. Students in the tenth decile will be awarded 34 points. 

  • Educational achievements, (up to 7 points)

Additional degrees (up to 5 points)  – PHD = 5 points, Masters/ 1st = 4 points , 2:1 = 3 points, 2:2 = 2 points, 3rd = 1 point, Medical degree alone = 0 points.

Publications worth up to two points (1 per pub med ID)


Situational Judgement Test

The SJT is a measure of meeting the attributes required to be a foundation doctor.

The SJT is taken under invigilated conditions, and  there is no negative marking, and you should therefore attempt all questions.

It consists of 70 questions in 2 hours 20 minutes

A maximum of 50 points is available

There are two question formats:

  • Rank in order five possible responses (2/3rds of the paper)
  • Choose three from eight possible responses (1/3rd of the paper)

A maximum of 20 marks is available for each question


For any additional information have a look at: