The Precipitous Stumble Into Clinical Medicine

I’m currently in the middle of my first rotation of the MBBS3 course at King’s College London. I’m based at hospitals around South East London on my NOP rotation, consisting of Neurology, Ophthalmology and Psychiatry.

NOP is supposedly the most challenging of the Phase 3 rotations. So far, it has been fun; I have challenging clinics in Neurology with my consultant ‘House’, and am repeatedly stunned and awed by the stories in Psychiatry. Ophthalmology uses the eye like a window into health, and more serious pathological matters. Third year is much less structured than MBBS2 so I’m left with a helluvalotta time on my hands for my own use. In comparison, Phase 2 was easy! – A foolproof recipe of ‘attend lectures, learn lectures, succeed’.

Try to strike a balance between life, work and play!

All of a sudden, I’m balancing a medley of clinics, lectures, transport, group work and voluntary learning, all held together by a translucent curriculum. Having so much freedom makes it all too easy to allow time to melt away through cracks between my day-to-day activities. I’ve found that common pitfalls of Phase 3 probably include –

  • Thinking you have too much time, and partying.
  • Thinking you have too much time, and blogging.
  • Thinking you have too much time, and sleeping.
  • Thinking you’re running out of time, and link hopping through Google for 12 straight hours without producing any solid, relevant work, or picking out minutiae from between the teeth of two similar conditions that you’ll never see during the short rotation around clinics!

I’m one to believe in the merit of hard work, but I’m finding it difficult to strike the right balance between working a little, and working a lot. I use the internet for my learning – there is no boundary to tell you when to stop gathering information.

I made a timetable. It is a common fallback for me, and it’s how I make the most of my day. I concede that it makes life more rigid and reduces time for enjoyable spontaneity, and I’ll consider other suggestions as long as you give me two weeks’ notice…

However antisocial it may be, a timetable provides valuable structure. Mine’s based on flexible windows – not set into concrete, but with margins to allow shifting and settling as my week goes on. It’s more about quantifying hours of the day to make my efforts more efficient. Try it.

This is such an exciting time, so it’s important I try to stay present enough to make the most of the experiences given to me. I’ve had two years of pretty intense learning to get grips upon the basic theory of medicine. Now, it’s time to try to piece some of that disjointed knowledge together, to eventually reach the seeming standard of fluidity with which my consultants wind through their clinics.

Without spending too much time surfing Google.


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