Author Archives: Nishil Patel

What does Erasmus even mean?

Five fifth year students today talked to second years about their experiences on Erasmus programmes all over Europe. The Erasmus happens all over Europe, and the students talking went to a selection of countries.

Approximately twenty people in each year apply for Erasmus, regardless of academic progress. It is ideal if you speak a language to an already high level – i.e. A Level. The students spoke about how the more proficient you were at language beforehand the better time you had. Contrastingly, they mentioned how the medical teaching may not have been as good abroad as it would have been in Wales. However with careful revision and studying when back in the UK, the students didn’t have a problem with the academic side of medicine

Helen Jeckel said, “It was a pleasure to be able to share my experiences with such an enthusiastic group of second years, many of whom are interested in going on elective.”

Freddie Searight added, “I do not know anyone who went on Erasmus who regretted it.”

The balance of both the good points and bad points of Erasmus was highlighted. The financial implications of elective were also illustrated to the year 2s as well as the application process.

To summarise, in the words of fifth year student Mollie Routledge “I’d do it again any time!”

The Elective – Sun or Stethoscope?

It is coming to an end. The end of a 5 year rollercoaster. Half a decade psun-over-the-oceanacked with in depth human science followed by nerve wracking exams. Placement has taken me to each corner of Wales from a GP surgery in Holyhead on Anglesey to a paediatric placement in the Valleys. All that is left is an 8 week gap in which to fit one of the biggest life experiences anywhere around the world; my elective. The equation however was not simple for me. Talk about organising elective with my best friends for months and not getting anywhere. Ask your friends in the year above where they went and each person had ‘the best 2 months of my life’. Doing your elective in the back of a lorry could’ve been made to sound like nirvana. Beach or City? South America or Australia? The decisions are tough.

Slowly a plan comes together. An elective plan is organised mixing a range of different themes. Whether you are on A&E or psychiatry, you know that it’s going to be a different experience wherever you are. Each individual knows what they want to get out of their elective. For me an elective needs to give you time to experience a new culture. One could argue that you have the next 30 years to amalgamate medical knowledge but only 4 nights to learn the customs of a Mayan tribe. Others argue that they want to expand on their portfolio and remove gall bladders all over the US gaining pride that their medical knowledge is useful all around the globe. There is no right or wrong balance; like everything in medicine. Each elective plan can be glanced at and each student’s personality instantly evaluated. What do you personally want out of an elective?

The younger years can be forgiven for their confusion about what an elective should be like. My 19 year old self was confused about what gastroenterology even was, let alone about where I should go and what I should do on an 8 week elective. What you want out of this period will become clearer as the years go on. Cardiff Medical School I believe has moulded my personality over the last few years and made me realise just what I want in life. Whatever you do should be enjoyed and every single thing you should learn from. Helping starving children, surfing on the biggest waves in the world, performing CPR on a collapsed man on a mountain in Nepal. Sun or stethoscope, don’t be afraid to do what you want to do.

By Nishil Patel

A fly on the wall in research!

Sitting at the back of the MGLT- acting as a fly on the wall for the research session.

Initially the year 5 pair described their own experiences of research including the triufly_on_the_wall_by_kenjis9965-d2z3ogsmphs and blunders they had encountered throughout their studies. The overall advice from the final year medics was to be creative yet organised take an active interest in their specific field. Although luck was emphasized as a key element in research, building up a portfolio of contacts was illustrated to be just as important.

The session was very ‘user-friendly’ and accessible to the target audience. The pair catered for their younger colleagues and their views were specifically moulded to the new course that the year 2s were undertaking. The audience in question were both polite and engaging with the session.



I took 5 minutes at the end of the session to interview several groups of year 2 students and enquire about their experience so far.

The majority of students stated that the Year 5 small group sessions had been particulary helpful; although most topics covered were beyond their year of training. However it was still beneficial to become aware of upcoming challenges.

Students commented that they felt ill prepared for these sessions; they did not know what to expect.  Students commented that if they had been given a timetable or a little information about what the week would entail, then they could have made some questions and benefitted more from the experience.

As an additional comment, several year 2s stated that they would have liked more hand-outs provided or slides because they felt overwhelmed with the vast amount of information.

Students said that for the elective workshop in particular they would have appreciated a more varied selection of elective experiences – those taken within the UK and abroad. The second years were concerned about how they would find a balance between the educational purposes of elective and the inevitable holiday that an elective would provide.

By Grace McKay