Category Archives: Questions

Intercalation: Myth-busting Q&A

Three 5th Year students who have previously intercalated provided some straight answers to common intercalation questions.

Here are a few of the hottest topics of discussion…

Q: How difficult is it to reintegrate into the medical course after your intercalation year?

A: “Not at all! Coming back to medicine was a dream, I suddenly loved clinics…at least for a while.”

Q: What it was like to join the 3rd year of a biosciences course? Was it hard to hit the ground running?

A: “You’re a little behind on some of the background but there’s nothing that didn’t come together in the first few weeks”

Q: How much does your ranking matter?

A: “Very little. If you want to intercalate then apply: there’s nothing to lose and you don’t have to have a tip-top ranking to have a good chance of getting your first choice. Just go for it!”

Q: Is it a chilled year?

A: “It depends what you do, my year was half and half: very relaxed until January exams. Then dissertation started looming and the library became my second home. But there is always the long summer to look forward to! However, be sure to choose something that is of interest to you. No amount of time off later can cheer you through a dissertation that doesn’t remotely float your boat!”

Maia Tanner

A Hitchhikers Guide to Electives

This afternoon in UHW there was an exciting and informative Q&A session for second year students led by three 5th years who are just days away from going on their electives..

Where are you going? When do you have to organise it?

As a general rule:

  • developed world/applying as a large group/specific specialty in mind = competition for placements
  • developing world/applying as a pair or alone/no strict preference for speciality= more placements available.

With competition for places, knowing where you want to go is beneficial and so is casting a wide net. Email as many institutions as you can and be prepared to chase people for responses, you may have to resort to phoning them to get a response. Ask those who have recently returned, your foundation doctors on the wards and your peers for contacts, ideas and inspiration.

 The £££ side

An elective can be an expensive 2 months! Even with a free placement always check what your living costs will be – rent, food (are there cooking facilities), laundry. Then there are the logistics – you are not a tourist – work visas are more costly if they are needed and of course there are flights to consider. From sunblock to thermals if you are going overseas you will need to buy supplies.

Home or Away?

Remember there is always the option to stay in the UK and follow an interest – work with the Air Ambulance, work at a specialist centre (like GOSH), get involved in research. Better your CV, follow an interest or have a bit of a ‘work-holiday’ – they are all valid reasons to do what you want to do on elective.

For more information all 5th year students recommend The Electives Network (TEN), a not-for-profit website of global contacts associated with MDU.

You won’t be getting this chunk of time as a doctor, so don’t waste it!

Happy travels!

Elizabeth McAleer – final year student

First impressions from an organiser

Two very interesting talks from Professor Phil Smith and Dr Tom Hughes started us off today. One said that he studied too hard while the other told us that he has failed is first set of major exams. Prof Smith talked about medicine being where art meets science and Dr Hughes emphasised the importance of a good story.

Good questions about authority gradients and work-life balance.

Having checked the first set of workshops, I noticed one very small room which was cramped full of students – sorry about that. Lesson one is avoid TDS 3F6 – it only has a capacity of 10 🙁

Then, I panicked and moved a Year 5 speaker which was completely unnecessary. My apologies for that too. I should trust more!

Generally, it looks good….