Maximising Your Time At Medical School

A Simple Guide To… Maximising Your Time At Medical School
  1. Organise Clinical Attachments
  2. Book Courses
  3. Get Involved in Research opportunities/Presentations/Posters
  4. Research the Foundation Programme
  5. Examine Patients Using an OSCE Format
  6. Keep up to date with GMC news

1. Organise Clinical Attachments

Why Do Clinical Attachments?

A clinical attachment will help you prepare for working in the NHS.

It allows you to gain an insight into medical processes and systems in the NHS. You will do this by observing a consultant and other junior doctors in a particular range of specialities (you can choose the specialty).

Attachments can last from a few weeks to a few months depending on how much time you have. It’s a good opportunity for you to learn in a safe environment without any extra pressure or responsibility.

After some time, you may be given some tasks under the supervision of the consultant, which will allow you to further understand the role of a junior doctor.

What You Might Be Doing On Your Attachments?

  • Observing Consultations
  • Participating In Patient Administration
  • Taking Patient Histories
  • Physical Examinations
  • Observing Surgery

How Do I Organise Them?

Before even applying to hospitals where you wish to do your attachment, you will have to have the following ready:

  • Completion of a criminal records check
  • Proof of identity documents
  • Occupational health clearance from the NHS trust
  • References from previous supervisors/ consultants etc.
  • A Medical CV

There may be some requirements that are trust specific so please check before applying.

When you have the above ready, you can begin looking for hospitals that offer such programmes or those that accept medical students to shadow junior doctors.

Another option is if you have any family members working in a hospital, they can get in touch with someone for you, and help organise the attachment.

Or you can simply send emails out to hospital consultants from trust websites, explaining your situation and asking if they are able to facilitate you.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Placements?

There are many ways on how to approach this depending on your level of entry.

If you are a newly graduated doctor wishing to enter the foundation programme or something similar, then we would advise you to prioritise the following:

· Shadow FY1/FY2s, this will give you a greater insight into day-to-day responsibilities of a junior doctor (what you will be very soon).

· Avoid spending too much time observing surgery; this is way above the level of a foundation doctor and will not help you when first starting out on the ward in the UK.

  • Read about cases from the patients you have come across the day before.
  • Practice your history taking and examination skills
  • Get involved in case-based discussions or patient-management problems
  • Make reflective learning logs
  • Ask for feedback from colleagues
  • Take part in an audit or project
  • Make a point to have a meeting with your supervisor for the attachment for them to guide you through the process and how you can get the most out of the experience.

2. Book Courses

There some courses you can go on while at university or before applying to jobs to improve your skills and to strengthen your application when applying for jobs, some of them include:

  • National catheter course – a free course provided at St. Peters hospital or online. It will help with skills needed for inserting catheters and problems associated with them.
  • Basic Life support – a course which is mandatory for most trust to complete
  • Immediate life support – Gives you an insight into actually managing an arrest scenario with the help of your colleagues. This will also help with improving the way you assess patients using the national systematic approach – A-E etc.
  • Advanced life support – this is a course that involves leading the arrest scenario
  • Phlebotomy courses

3. Get Involved in Research opportunities/Presentations/Posters

4. Research the Foundation Programme

Research the curriculum of the foundation program and what is expected of you so you can tailor your own experience to fit what you are applying for

Make sure you have covered the Foundation competencies and are confident doing them independently. This will be one less stressful thing you have to endure when starting work.

5. Examine Patients Using an OSCE Format

When seeing patients in your respective hospitals, try to do so in an OSCE format (that is used in UK) this will give you a more organised

method of discussing with and examining patients and will impress your future consultants.

6. Keep up to date with GMC news

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