What is it like to be a First Year?
Paulo, 21, Basingstoke
Why did you want to do medicine?
I’ve found the human anatomy and the science of how it works really interesting from when I was young, but I really didn’t even consider going to university until after my GCSEs. Up until then, it hadn’t hit me that I would need to have a job at some point and I really didn’t want it to be sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. I wanted something challenging, exciting and purposeful. After looking deeper into what medicine is like as a course and as a career through volunteering, work experience and research, I decided it was a career worth investing my life in.
What's the best thing about student life?
There are too many good things to name just one. I’ve met some really interesting people while at university and I’ll be coming across more and more for the next five years that I’m studying. I love how Southampton – both the town and the university – never runs out of things to do and see and enjoy. Like virtually every “fresher”, I’m really enjoying my independence and figuring out how to live self-reliantly as well, which is a nice experience.
What does a typical week look like (including lectures, practicals, placements, sports, social etc)?
We usually go to Southampton General Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually just lectures at Highfield Campus. The timetable usually consists of lectures, tutorials and 3 hours of anatomy lab per week. That’s what I’d expect from the “typical” timetable anyway, but each week is always different from the next.Our days usually start at 9AM and can finish from as early as 10AM to something like 5PM depending on how the faculty have timetabled things. We always finish before 1PM on Wednesday and many spend Wednesday afternoon with their societies or sports teams.On Tuesday afternoons for most of the year, we have student-selected units (SSUs) which I guess is meant to help us develop in different ways from just sitting in lectures. We had to create a health intervention in the first semester, but in the second semester, we got to choose an arts unit that ranged from theatre to life drawing and everything in between.
One of the highlights is the Medicine in Practice (MiP) placement at a GP surgery that we have every two weeks on a Thursday afternoon in which we practise (as a group of 4-6) basic clinical skills such as taking patients’ medical histories and how to use a stethoscope. The best part is that we get to meet real patients on our first year which lets us see how what we learned in lectures can be used in practice. That and they’re always really lovely people!
What has been the highlight of medical school?
It’s all one big highlight to me, really. The course itself never stops being interesting and the people in my year are a smashing bunch. I’ve also really enjoyed being part of the Medics’ Revue, which is a hysterical musical production that raises money for charity every year. That said, any event organised by MedSoc is a highlight, whether it’s for charity or just a night out!
What are you looking forward to most?
Right now, it’s probably just the next MiP session where we will be learning cardiovascular examinations. There’s always something different to look forward to every week!
If you could give advice to a younger you what would it be?
- Ask the teaching staff for advice when you need it; they are always more than willing to help.
- If you do a little extra work each day, you’ll enjoy your holidays more.
- Wait until you’re about 3 months in before you buy a single textbook.
- Buy a coffee flask.