During half term I was lucky enough to go to the UEA for their Medical Aspirations 2018. I just want to say that this was such an amazing experience and I thought that I would share with you all how it went and what I did!
I just want to start off by saying that getting to the UEA was such a struggle as there had been an accident on the roads between Beccle’s and Norwich which meant that there was an hour queue. This meant that we had to go through Yarmouth to get there but there had been a second accident in Bradwell so we got a bit lost and had to go down some random roads, but we eventually got there (literally two hours after we had left my house) and found the right building in the Med area. This early panic didn’t really help with my nerves and I was last there which didn’t make me feel too good but I managed to spot Megan and Fahmida (two girls from SIN) so I started to feel a little bit more assured that this was going to be good.
The first session was in the Anatomy Suite which was super cool. I found out that UEA med students get to dissect an entire human body during their time there which is amazing and is one part of the course at the UEA that really appeals to me. I feel that it is something that is really useful especially if I do eventually become a surgeon (if I’m good enough ha). I also found out that the spleen filters the blood which is really interesting – even though I did get this wrong in the multiple choice quiz I did there.
My second session was on Medical ethics and was so good! I think that this session definitely taught me a lot about the life changing decisions I would have to make and the following consequences of them which is really scary. I think that the best part is hearing real life case studies and actually having a make a choice on what you are going to do. It was also great to hear about all the different types of ethical theories like utilitarianism and Kant’s ethics (it was really exciting to hear about Kant because I knew who he was but not many others did)!
After this we got to go to our rooms to drop off our bags and oh my our rooms were so nice, we all had our own double bed room with an en suite in the UEA’s hotel. The bed was so nice and comfy too, I would literally fall asleep in the seconds. The only downside with the room is that the shower was like a wet room and I just don’t like how everything gets so wet and you have to keep your towel in a safe place or its soaked before you use it!
Before the end of the first day we had one more session after dinner – even though we were all so exhausted. Our last session was the OSCEs (objective structured clinical examinations). This was really fun because it allowed us to learn and apply practical skills. There were 8 stations all around 10 minutes long, the stations were:
- Shoulder examination – we got to find out the different shoulder problems and this was actually really useful because my mum has shoulder problems at the minute and I could tell what she has! I’m basically a doctor already.
- Urine testing – it was actually so cool to see how the testing for this works, you just have to match up colours!
- Taking blood pressure
- Looking for a heartbeat – looking for a heartbeat in four different places is actually a struggle. however, it’s so amazing hearing the opening and closing of our heart valves (and we successfully managed to label the heart quicker than everyone else so I think Dr B would be really proud.
- Screen tests – we got to see the difference between X-Rays, Ultrasounds, CT scans and MRI.
- Consultant observation – at the UEA you start to meet patients in your first week which can obviously be really daunting but at the same time you can tell how it allows you to gain so much experience and it is clearly why the UEA is said to produce the most well-prepared doctors.
- Takings someone’s pulse – we got to use a really cool machine that began with d but I can’t remember it !
- Accident situation – this was a good old bit of basic first aid which thanks to Willis I know all about.
This session was also really great because it allowed me to talk to multiple current students about their experiences, what they enjoy/dislike, and any advice that they club give which was super useful!
Day 2 was equally jam-packed with things to do. We started off with a talk on applying to medicine that wasn’t really given because we didn’t have time but we have a nice Q&A instead and the Powerpoint was just printed off for us. Afterwards we took a nice walk to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for a tour. We all thought that we were going to be told all about the different wards and jobs in a hospital but we took a route down behind the scenes at the hospital and went to the mail room, catering and the bins. I must say that it was certainly different and it really taught us all that doctors are not the most important people in a hospital because it would literally all stop functioning without the cleaners, catering staff, waste disposal people etc. After the tour everyone was given the most amazing look coffee cake (my favourite) but obviously I couldn’t eat it (as I’m vegan) and I was very sad.
After our very fun tour of the N&N, we made our way back to campus for our Problem based learning (PBL) session. PBL is when a group of 7-10 students are given a real case scenario and you have to work together to figure out what your patient has. My group actually managed to figure out the problem really early but we weren’t allowed to be told until the very end. I also got to show off my good old biology knowledge on ECGs and the different types of heartbeats. PBL was something that I wasn’t really sure about before because I wasn’t sure if I would rather traditional lectures or the newer, hands-on practical work but after this I had decided that I would rather go to a university that is more PBL based than lectures – I’m just not sure if I would be able to pay attention and remember things if I just listen.
After dinner we had a Heart Start activity, this was learning basic first aid eg the recovery position and CPR. It was actually really good because it allowed me to remember bits that I had done before and I also got to use a defibrillator! We then got to do a quiz but we did it in the student union whilst a gig was on in the LCR which was really funny.
Day 3 was equally as good as the other days but it was sadly our last day. The first session was an introduction to radiology; this session was really good because there were three different radiologists who told us all about how they came into medicine and I think that it was great because it made me realise that there aren’t as many people as you would think who go straight in from A-levels (loads of people come in from a year off or from another degree). The last talk of the residential was a visit to the pathology department. Here I got to see how microscope slides are made for investigation and we got to see real slides so we could figure out whether the person had cancer or another type of disease.
To end the day there was afternoon tea and next steps which made me realise how much more I get from this free residential! In addition to everything at the UEA during the three days, I get mock interviews, mock UKCAT (which I sadly can’t go to), a three day GP placement and if I apply I get an automatic interview for the UEA!
The people who I met were also wonderful and amazing which was great as no one likes an awkward experience. This was honestly one of the most fantastic experiences I have ever had. I feel so privileged and grateful that I was given this opportunity, it has given me so much to think about but made me even more determined to get into medicine! It is definitely something that I will ever forget.
I apologise that this is really long and I wont judge if you skipped bits!