Wow, I can’t believe how quickly the year is flying by.  At this rate, the end of the year will be here before I know it, and my end of semester exams are just around the corner (in all honesty, I’m a little bit terrified by this prospect).  I don’t feel I know enough to be examined on.

This week, we had our first dissection class, and it was a rather interesting experience.  I don’t think I’ve dissected anything since year 8 biology, and that was a very long time ago.  Walking into the gross anatomy facility I was incredibly nervous, and was wondering if I’d be able to somehow escape the lab, without actually picking up the dissection tools.

A small part of my apprehension came from my lack of experience, but the majority stemmed from the simple fact that lying on that cold metal slab were the remnants of another human being.  Someone who had loved and was loved. A person who would have laughed and cried.  Who likely bounced children and possibly grandchildren on their lap, and rocked them to sleep with the very elbow awaiting my lab group on that cold slab.

Trying to disconnect that part of my brain from the task at hand was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  And just when I thought I had accomplished it, something small would grab my attention, such as the hair still protruding from the leathery, preserved skin, and remind me anew that this arm belonged to someone who had lived.

The absolute generosity shown by these people, who donate their bodies to science is incredible, and something I am grateful for.   A classmate of mine commented that they had learned more from this one dissection, than they had in our regular anatomy lab (with plastic models and pots) and to some extent I agree with them.

I should point out, that the objective of this dissection class was not for us to learn anatomy, but rather to get a feel for surgical instruments and how they interact with the human body.  It was to practice our technique, and understand the purpose and use of different instruments.  To feel the different layers encountered when cutting into a body, and to be aware that cutting what you can’t see is a very bad idea, lest you sever something you had no intention of severing.

However, I don’t think the actual dissection by students is necessary in learning anatomy. It is useful for putting everything in to perspective, but it is time consuming with very little gain.  I do think the use of wet specimens/ pro-sections however is incredibly helpful in putting the whole picture together. Unfortunately we don’t have wet specimens / pro-sections in our normal anatomy classes, and I do think this would aid in anatomy understanding.

We have another dissection class next week, and while I’m not dreading it like I was last week, I’m not eagerly anticipating it either!


OMG it’s week 9 already?

And just like that I’m almost halfway through my first semester of medical school.  I still can’t believe how quickly it’s flying.  I think I’m finally starting to find my feet, although I am a little worried about the rapidly approaching mid semester exams.  Where has the time gone, and why do I feel like I know nothing? Ok, I know a little, but it sure doesn’t feel like enough to successfully get through my exams! Can you tell I’m procrastinating study?

On a positive note, I can happily report that I passed my first two pieces of assessment – performing a cardiovascular physical exam and interviewing a mock patient (which was recorded).  Let me just say that watching myself on screen was the most painful and torturous 10 minutes of medical school so far.   I was quite worried about both, especially with my tutor problems mentioned in my last post, but with the help of my new bible and some trusty second year tutors somehow I managed to survive (and pass).

I also survived (and enjoyed) the recent skills day put on by one of the social clubs.  I had fun plastering (or trying to) my buddy while my own arm was in plaster, suturing (my technique needs A LOT of work), cannulating, venepuncturing, and intubating the many fake arms and dummies I had the pleasure of meeting along the way.  And I think I might finally understand ECGs a little after the workshop by the very knowledgable GP reg which is a plus.

So that’s my quick summary in a nutshell, and I had better get back to the books – I don’t want to fail my first set of actual exams! Stay tuned for more random updates!

Blink and you’ll miss it!

And just like that, I’ve finished four weeks of medical school! Where has the time gone? I can’t quite believe I’m preparing to start week 5.  In all honesty, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  It’s been a while since I studied, and even then I was never the best student.  I feel like I’m falling behind already, and that nothing is sinking in.  I feel like I know nothing, while everyone around me, does.

I think part of the problem stems down to my PBL group, who seem exceptionally switched on, with a wealth of experience.  One is from allied health with many years experience, one a first year repeater who has done all of these cases before, a couple of recent biomed grads who seem on top of it all, and a few others who don’t say much (so are probably in the same boat as I am).  I seem to spend so much of my time working on my PBL question for the week, that it doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

I wonder where I’ll find the time to learn all I need to learn.  I knew that I would be exposed to a great deal of information quickly, but I’m not sure I quite comprehended how much, and making the links between the segregated areas is proving a little challenging at the moment.   Add to that, I’m really not sure how much I’m supposed to be doing.

This is most evident in my clinical coaching sessions.  So far, we’ve only covered history taking, but next week we start in on the CVS exam.  I’m really hoping things pick up with the examination part, because I’m feeling so lost in history taking.  Part of the problem is the coach we have has never taught clinical coaching at my university before, and doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on.  He’s also from another country, and while he seems nice enough, he waffles, and keeps relating everything back to his own country.

If that weren’t enough, because he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing I am really feeling the “teach yourself medicine” come through in this course.  To be honest, I expected it with the medical sciences, but I didn’t with clinical skills.  In our first real session, he walked into the room, told us he had other stuff to do, and would be back in 30 minutes. In the meantime we should practice CVS history taking on each other and then he’d see how we were going when he came back.

IN OUR FIRST SESSION.  So it was a mad scramble to try and figure out what the hell we were supposed to do from our guidebook provided by the university.  He then came back, and critiqued us all with rather unhelpful advice, asking why we didn’t ask about X, Y, Z conditions none of had heard of before, while rambling on with irrelevant stories from back in his home country.

I guess I should look at it from the perspective that this is what a life in medicine entails so I should get used to it now, but damn it, I’m really disliking clinical coaching which I thought would be the best part of the course.  I’m lost and confused and overwhelmed by the whole course at the moment.

Officially a Medical Student

Hello world! In case anyone was wondering, I am indeed alive and well.  I’m just a very bad blogger.  Sometimes life gets in the way, and other days I’m not quite sure how to say what I want to say.  In the last couple of months I have started and discarded numerous posts for various reasons.

I imagine most of you know by now that in the end, the choice I made was to accept the place at the local medical school.  Throughout the decision making process my heart was telling me to accept the interstate place, while my head said the local option was best.  I’m a practical sort and clearly my head won out.  I think largely because having my friends and family around will be invaluable.

Before I knew it, the start of medical school was here and I’m now almost finished my second week.  In the last couple of weeks I have run the gamut of emotions from excited to nervous, confident to terrified.  Mostly though, the last couple of weeks have really eased me into the course and I’m excited to get into the first real module next week (my course has two weeks of introductory lectures).

I am humbled by the generosity of past students who have shared with me not only copious amounts of data (past exams, notes, useful youtube videos etc.) but also their time.  The second year students have organised not only peer tutoring, but dedicated anatomy tutoring and I am so grateful for the extra assistance and advice provided.

The campus itself is absolutely beautiful and the library incredible – it is unlike any library I have ever seen before.  There is so many computers and study spaces. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.  On my first day, the security guard waved at me as I drove past (at first I was freaked out wondering what I had done wrong!) and then later gave me directions to the room I needed to find.  I’m feeling very comfortable with my choice, even if it was initially made out of practicality.

Tomorrow, our medical society is holding their welcome, with lots of prizes on offer including Littmann stethoscopes, Oxford handbooks, Clinical Examination books and numerous vouchers and the like.  I’m looking forward to meeting more of my cohort and hopeful that I may be lucky enough to win something awesome, because really, what student doesn’t love a freebie?  That’s it for now, but I hope to update again on the weekend in a bit more depth about the beginning of medical school.  Stay tuned for more adventures of selenocentric, medical student.  😉


Starting this year, I had said that it would be my last attempt to get into medical school. I studied for the GAMSAT harder and smarter then I ever had before and saw a corresponding increase in score.  I begun to hope that I might just have a chance at this medical school business after all.  I submitted my applications, and played the waiting game.  The absolute shock I felt when reading those emails inviting me to interview I will remember for a very long time. Not one, but two of them.  I didn’t think it was real.  A large part of me still doesn’t believe it is real.

So I went, and I interviewed and tried to answer the questions I was asked as thoughtfully and as honestly as I could.  Walking out of those two interviews I was sure I had blown both of them.  I was sure that I wasn’t as smart, or as eloquent, or as impassioned as the other candidates I met.  That my responses were somehow lacking and not what the interviewers were looking for. It was such a strange feeling, this thought of not measuring up.  Of being somehow lesser.  I suppose my confidence has taken more of a beating from my unsuccessful attempts than I realised. That, and I’ve med so many incredible people in my lifetime, I feel pretty mediocre in comparison.

To my absolute disbelief, this year I am in the enviable position of being given the choice to choose between two very old and well established medical schools.  I never thought I would find myself in the position I now find myself in.  And it still doesn’t seem real.  Any moment, I expect the universities to say sorry, we’ve made a mistake. We never should have offered you a place. I feel incredibly lucky to have even one offer, let alone two.  In some ways, I kind of wish I only had the one offer, so then I wouldn’t have to choose.  I suspect there will be many moments over the next four years when I wonder if I made the right choice.

For now I’m writing lists of pros and cons.  The main two considerations for me at the moment are finances and location.  You see, one of the offers is at a school whose campus is about a 30 minute drive from my house, the other requires a few hours on a plane to get there.  Which isn’t exactly a reasonable daily commute.  The costs of relocating/ living in one of the most expensive cities in Australia while on a tight student budget are very big concerns, although I think academically the far away school would suit me better.  However, I could live with my parents if I were to go to the closer school, and my workplace would facilitate a job for me (not the one I currently hold of course, but there would be something that would fit with my uni schedule) making the finances thing less of a concern.

These are just the main items on my list of considerations.  There are many other aspects to this decision, and it is certainly not one I am making lightly.  At the same time, I feel a sense of urgency to have this settled.  Not only to enable me to plan either way, but also because I know there is another candidate out there somewhere who would love to have my place, once it is offered to them. I want them to have the time to plan and organise a move if necessary.  It would also make one hell of a Christmas present for a lucky someone.

And now, it’s back to my lists.  If all else fails, I suppose I could flip a coin to determine my fate. 😉

Tools & Textbooks

I almost can’t quite believe we’re heading into late October already.  Where has the year gone? On the one hand I can’t wait to start medical school in a few months, on the other I can’t help but think of all the things I need to prepare in the interim and I do wish I had just a little more time before I start.  Planning an interstate move is a much bigger undertaking then I originally thought it would be. Amongst the whole moving thing, vaccinations and such thoughts have inevitably included the items I’ll need to purchase for next year and I figure while I have a disposable income I may as well get a head start on the things I know I will need/ use for sure.

Namely textbooks and stethoscopes. Being somewhat of a bargain hunter I have always been a fan of booko an Australian website that searches a number of online retailers worldwide for the cheapest book prices and returns a list of cheapest to most expensive including shipping.  It’s a brilliant site and I highly recommend it to those who don’t already know about it. Anyway, recently I decided to randomly have a look for a couple of the textbooks that have been recommended to me over the years by friends in medical school.  One of them, a book released this year I am told is very helpful for PBLs and the like.  The book?


While browsing booko I discovered that bookworld had the cheapest price at the time, as they had a monthly special happening in September. With an additional discount if you joined their free “citizen” loyalty program.  I purchased the book for a measly $46 including shipping.  It is now $70.39 for the citizen price, and booko informs me that currently $61.06 is the cheapest price – from US Amazon. The only downside to the cheap price I paid is that the book was not expected to be back in stock for 3 – 5 weeks.  Since I don’t need it immediately I was happy to wait.  I notice the book is now back in stock so hopefully it won’t be long til it reaches me (Note to self: I should follow up on it’s progress).  There are still a couple of textbooks I want to get my hands on, but they can wait until I find a good price for them.

The other purchase I am considering is that of the stethoscope.  Of course, the all important decision for me was always going to be which colour? I decided long ago, after reading many reviews and recommendations that a Littmann Classic II SE would suit me very well, and I love that there are many choices of colour.  Since I don’t have a favourite colour, many of the choices appealed to me, and while I know that it’s just a tool, a large part of me wants to get the prettiest damn stethoscope I can.  Enter the rainbow chestpiece – it just sparkles and shines. I do so like things that sparkle.

I thought that had narrowed down my choice to a Caribbean blue tube. Until that is, I discovered 3M (the company who manufacture said stethoscopes) had recently released a second stethoscope with a rainbow chestpiece – one with a raspberry tube.  And how could I resist? Strangely enough, the colour pink has played a large part of my journey to medical school (some of you will know what I’m talking about) and it has popped it’s head up all over the place.  I think it only fitting that my stethoscope have a pinkish tube.  Behold the beauty that will be mine:

Isn’t she pretty? Alas, I have been informed that while she is available in the USA/ UK she has yet to make it to the Antipodes, although the local suppliers are hoping that she will soon be available.  Since I still have some time, I have decided to wait a month or so and see if she arrives.  If not, I suspect I shall turn my eyes to international waters to acquire the above beauty.  Unless the stethoscope faeries decide to deliver one to my doorstep before I get the chance. 😉

Edited to add: Any textbook recommendations etc. will be greatly appreciated. Share away.


This week, I was starkly reminded how much I hate dishonesty, especially when I’m forced into a position of feeling like I’m being dishonest.  Although I suppose technically I wasn’t lying, I was just omitting a few very pertinent truths.  I suppose I should start at the beginning.  It’s just as well I got into medical school beginning next year as my position at work will no longer exist next year.  Well, not in it’s current guise at any rate.  The business is streamlining and as a result the job I currently do will involve looking after three locations, as opposed to the one it currently is.

This of course encompasses further responsibility while negating a lot of the administrative tasks which seem to constantly bog me down.  It is definitely a good thing.  Of course the downside is that three qualified and competent people will now be competing for that one role.  If I hadn’t of gotten into medical school I would have thrown my hat in the ring and taken my chances as in all honesty it is a fabulous opportunity.  I can see how you’d be asking where does the dishonesty come in? Well, I’ve known now for a couple of months or so of these changes.  However I have been asked by my big boss to keep it quite, and currently only my direct supervisor, the big boss and I are aware of the impending changes.

The plan was to tell all the important players at once, in a meeting the next week.  However, since then many meetings have come and gone and no one is the wiser.  I’ve been in the dubious position of having to skirt around the truth with these players a few times over the last couple of months and have found doing so quite dishonest and a position I hate being in.  However, what I find most reprehensible is having to skirt around the truth with a particular colleague.

You see, this colleague was the one I competed against, and I use the term loosely, when I originally was given my position.  He has not hidden the fact that he really wants my job, and over the last year or so I have groomed him to take on my job if and when I got into medical school or move on to my next promotion.  Luckily for me, he went away on a five week holiday overseas, and only returned to work late this week.  Meaning, he didn’t know I’d gotten into medical school and as such I had hoped that the big boss would tell all the other players before he got back to work allowing me to let him know the change in my position, and my acceptance into med school.

Of course, this wasn’t to be, and he came back before this has occurred.  So when I saw him, I asked him about his trip and what not but didn’t tell him my news. Not long after this conversation as I was walking by he congratulated me on getting into medical school and my heart plummeted.  I’m not sure who told him, but I could see from the look on his face and his excitement that clearly he thinks he’ll soon be taking over my role.  Which won’t be the case at all.  The job will go to one of the two other qualified people, and he doesn’t have a chance.  And I couldn’t tell him.  I felt like the biggest, most dishonest person and I absolutely hated it.

I don’t know how long it’ll be until the big boss decides to tell the other important people, but until then I can only imagine his happiness and excitement will grow only to be quickly deflated when he finds out the truth.  I wanted to avoid this, and now I feel partially responsible.  Logically I know that I am not responsible for what he things, and  that there are no guarantees things will stay the same, or that he would indeed get my position, but emotionally I feel a bit like I’m giving him a long wanted gift only to snatch it away. And it disgusts me.  I abhor being put in this position, and I’d love to take him quietly aside and inform him of the facts, but I also know he is a pretty big gossip and that it won’t stay confidential for long.  Urgh pretty much sums up how I feel about the situation nicely.