A UCD Student Ambassador explains how studying Medicine has changed now that he is reaching the end of his third year and how practice makes perfect

Three and a half years ago (though it feels like its been a lifetime) we began our medical education in UCD. Fresh out of secondary school, we were eager and pumped to start learning about diseases and their treatments! Alas, what we didn’t realise at the time was the amount of pre-clinical training we would have to undergo before reaching that stage of understanding. For the past few years, many a long day and late night has been spent in the library, cramming in as much theory as possible. Our reward? We are now deemed fit to begin the clinical component of our training!

Before we flee the nest entirely, there are a few weeks left on campus. These weeks are filled with a mixture of lectures, practicals, workshops and so on. Through these, we are learning how to take histories and perform physical examinations on patients – and in just a few short weeks we’ll be doing it for real!

Image result for medical student practicing

As with all practical skills, the key to success is practice, practice, practice! As such, most of our free time spent out of specified learning activities is spent in the practical rooms, practising everything we have been learning. From examining eyes, ears, hearts, lungs – our fellow med students are an invaluable sources of models to practice on. And if you’re not quite getting it, they’ll help you out and point you in the right direction!

There’s plenty of unusual and unfamiliar elements to the course these days! Just recently we had a taping session – where each student is individually filmed taking a history from a patient-actor, and then later we will watch the tape back with small groups of 5 other students to get feedback and improve our approach and technique. Even our exams will be an entirely different format, instead of written essays and MCQs we will have oral exams and OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination)!

With so many exciting new things going on this semester, we’ve plenty to talk about – everyone follows a different schedule, so every day is different for each student and we have plenty of new things going on all the time. Of course, the favourite conversation topics still centre around dresses for the upcoming White Coat Ceremony, and what colour stethoscope to get (the turqouise and chocolate brown have been real winners!) Here’s hoping the rest of the semester is as fun and exciting as the first few weeks have been!