Medical school: clinical years and moving out

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written about medical school and, as always, a lot has happened since the last post. Unfortunately, my time management is still a work in progress. I’ll get there one day.

I guess the biggest change is that I’ve transitioned from a second year medical student to a third year medical student. In other words, I’ve entered clinical years! Pre-clinical years were very safe, in the sense that it’s what most of us are used to. Dragging myself to anatomy, attending lectures (lol, debatable), revising in the library and eating my body weight in burgers was the norm. We had a few clinical placements but nothing too scary or out of the ordinary. So, starting clinical years in an actual hospital and being shoved onto actual wards with actual patients who have actual health conditions and are cared for by actual healthcare professionals was… different. Fortunately, everyone at the hospital is super nice and eager to help out the third years. I’m yet to figure out if they’re genuinely nice or if it’s due to the perpetual look of confusion plastered on our faces. Either way, I’m not complaining. I actually have a few posts tucked away in my drafts folder about my experiences in theatre, on ward rounds and in clinics so I’ll go into more detail in those!

Another change is that I’ve flown the nest! Yup, I’ve packed up my stuff and moved out for the last three years of my degree. This wasn’t necessarily out of choice but was mainly due to my base hospital allocation. The hospital I’ve been allocated to for clinical years is an hour away from the main university campus. It’s a commutable distance but I’ve yet to pass my driving test and besides, I’m way too lazy to leave the house at 6:45am to get to the hospital for an 8am start. Initially, I was disappointed with the allocation but then I started to see it as a great opportunity. Being a ‘living at home’ student came with its perks but, ultimately, I probably need this opportunity to become more aware  of adult responsibility. Bills are reeeal fun, by the way.

It’s three weeks into clinical years and that’s an extremely brief summary of what’s been going on so far. I do have a handful of posts to write up so I’m hoping to whack them up soon! I hope everyone has had a great start to the new academic year – let’s make this one the best yet!


Summer adventures

Please believe me when I say I really did mean to write this post two months ago. Honest.

Pre-summer 2017 Farah had never been abroad, besides family visits to Pakistan. For various reasons (mainly conflicting work schedules), a holiday abroad hasn’t been possible. However, this year, after desperate pleas, we managed to find a nice, lil’ slot in July.
It’s rare for every family member to agree wholeheartedly on something, but we came to a unanimous decision that Kenya would be our destination. Best. Decision. Ever. We also managed to fit in a pit stop in Istanbul, which was a huge bonus!

As with almost every place in the world, pictures don’t capture the beauty in its entirety but I’ve added a collection of photos from my time abroad. Enjoy!

Second year of med school, check!

All the prayer circles paid off – I passed second year!

Excluding A Levels, I found this exam season the hardest yet. It wasn’t so much the number of exams – I only had three – but more the content. We were told to recap the whole two years anatomy for our OSCE which annoyed everyone greatly because 1) IT’S THE WHOLE BLOODY BODY WITH 206 BONES AND OVER 650 MUSCLES, and 2) we’d get a maximum of what, 25 questions? For the whole two years anatomy? Is my suffering classed as entertainment? So many unanswered questions.
To make the OSCE even more unbearable, they chucked in some histology during the last station. The problem is, everything in histology looks the same so it’s near impossible to differentiate between cells and the like. So, when the examiner asked me to identify which section of the GI tract a particular histological slide belonged to, I had no idea what to say. I ended up saying the small intestine… turns out it was the stomach.

After the catastrophe that was the OSCE, I thought the written exam would be a bit easier. As I opened the paper and read the first question, I got a cold, hard slap in the face. It wasn’t even a one-off slap. Every page I turned came with another… and another…
At the start of this semester, we were told that the majority of the questions would be based on content in the lectures. Mate, they chat so much shit. I went over every important lecture and I still had to guess about 40% of the paper. I’m not kidding! Literally, 40% of the paper!

Anyway, all bad feelings aside, I’m so relieved it’s over. The first two years of medical school are down, just three more to go!

Bulking up the CV

The second year of medical school is over (providing I don’t have to resit – everyone, lets form another prayer circle) and summer is finally here!

Technically speaking, summer has been here for a while. I had my last exam on May 22nd so I’ve already had a whole ten days of freedom. A whole ten days! Not going to lie, I felt a bit lost when I woke up on May 23rd with absolutely nothing to do. I got out of bed, glanced at the non-existent to do list on my whiteboard for a few seconds, felt a bit confused and then just got straight back under the duvet. It was a weird feeling.
Anyway, third year doesn’t start until the last week of August. That’s a whole lotta chilling to be done.

However, unlike last year, when I spent the nearly the whole summer literally chilling, I’m planning on being productive. I was looking through my CV the other day and I can’t lie to myself, it leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve done a few things here and there but nothing that’s like “BAM, hire me”.
I’ve spent the last couple of days looking through volunteer opportunities in my area, and I came across a tutoring job near where I live. I sent in my CV and they emailed me back the same day with an invitation for a trial shift this Sunday! I’m beyond pumped. If all goes well, this will be my first ever job. Adulting to the max, guys.

In addition to job-hunting, I thought it’d be good to make a move on that article I want to submit to the student BMJ (british medical journal). Unfortunately, there’s a small problem… there is no article. I’ve hit a wall and can’t seem to think of a topic I want to write about. My mum told me not to force the article, a piece of writing is best when it comes naturally.
I decided to scroll through some of the articles on the student BMJ website for inspiration and that’s when I saw it:

“Fancy being a student BMJ rep?”

The role involves informing fellow students about the BMJ and contributing ideas for the content. In return, they offer free access to the BMJ website and a profile on the website. It’d be an amazing opportunity to actively work with the student BMJ team and gain an appreciation of the work that goes on behind the scenes. I really do hope they accept my application but if not, all is not lost, I can still try to conjure up an article pitch somehow…someday.

Sidenote: there are some insanely good articles on the BMJ website – I’ll link them here for anyone who’s looking for a good read! 

  1. I’m a doctor, and I have a mental illness
  2. Studying medicine with a health condition
  3. The quiet doctor
  4. Five truths about being a first year medical student and five rookie mistakes to avoid

Manchester: one week on

It has been one week since the explosion at Manchester Arena, where twenty two innocent lives were lost and over a hundred people were injured. A horrific, senseless act left families and friends facing heartache, and the rest of the nation faced it with them. What should have been a memorable concert full of excitement and happiness turned into a night of devastation and loss. One week on, there is still one question on everyone’s mind – why?

I remember finding out what had happened. I first heard the news from a university friend, and then messages gradually started to pour into different groupchats.

“Guys apparently there has been a bombing at Manchester arena so everyone be safe!!!”
“I’ve literally just heard that too, police have said to stay away”
“Manchester police tweeting out saying it’s true”
“There have been confirmed fatalities, be safe please guys”

Upon reading these messages, my heart sank. I had friends at the concert who had been posting videos on snapchat throughout the evening showing how much fun they were having. I started to fear the worst. Thankfully, they were safe and unharmed.
I also remember there being speculation about the explosion – people were saying they think it was something to do with the speakers and that it was a technical fault. Unfortunately, news started to come in about the confirmed fatalities. The following day, 22 fatalities were announced.

We see similar attacks on the news, we read about them in articles, we hear about them on the radio, but we never expect it to happen in our city. The shock and sadness felt by the city was very real – you could see it in the eyes of people you passed in the street. A whole city in mourning, wondering how this could have happenend so close to home.

However, there was one thing that shone through even in the immediate response following the explosion, and it was the spirit of Manchester. This beautiful, beautiful city that I am so lucky to call home pulled together in the most incredible way. Even in the first hour, residents took to twitter to offer up rooms for those affected using the hashtag #RoomsForManchester. Pictures of missing friends and family members were circulated on social media in the hope to reunite them with their loved ones. Subsequently, taxi drivers were giving free rides home and to nearby hospitals. The emergency services and hospital staff worked tirelessly through the night attending to those who were injured. Cafes and takeaways stayed open to make free food for people helping victims of the attack. The following day, the queues for blood donation were so long people were turned away. A fund in excess of £5m has been raised to help the affected families. The memorial in St Anne’s Square, located in the city centre, has seen a growing display of balloons, flowers and messages left by people who wish to pay their respects.

The people of Manchester, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or whatever is used to try to divide us, came together during one of the darkest times the city has faced. The support and solidarity shown over the past week has been truly heart-warming. I remain in awe of this city, it’s wonderful people and their generosity and love. We are better together.


To the twenty two beautiful souls, you will always be remembered. ❤

Spring break!

I can finally say that my 11 page report has been submitted and is out of my life! That is, of course, till next year when they apparently hand us another report to complete only this time it has to be like 40 pages? Yeeea… That bridge shall be crossed at a later date.

It’s also two days into the Spring break. Uni doesn’t start again till April 25th so I have a solid three weeks off. Though studying will inevitably occupy a lot of my holiday, it’s nice having time away from 7:30 alarms and anatomy on a Monday morning. Uni was kinda stressful these last two weeks. Almost every day consisted of early starts and staying in the pc cluster till 6pm, and even though I signed up for this course knowing full well it wouldn’t be all sunshines and roses, it was starting to take it’s toll. You know you’re looking tired when people start to point out that you’re looking tired!

Anyway, I’ve decided to make some life changes this holiday. It’s nothing major, just little things like drinking enough water each day, eating breakfast on time and getting to bed at decent o’clock. Sleep has been a major issue recently and it’s starting to show on my face – this is bad because now my mum is worrying about me and when mums are worried, it only means one thing. Lectures are on the way.

I’ve also been thinking about my blog. There are some important issues I want to touch on in future posts, not necessarily connected to university or medicine but definitely things I’ve realised since becoming a student a year and a bit ago. I’ll hopefully start writing the first post this coming week, providing I don’t have a major brain fart and forget how to string a decent sentence together 😉

The disappearing medic

I’m sat on my bed with a tub of ice cream. It’s 6:24pm. It’s been a wonderfully sunny day and now, as the evening draws in, the sky is looking all sorts of dreamy. Now seems like a good a time as any to write up this post.

Good title, right? It’s quite fitting, maybe I should consider renaming my blog. Anyway, today is the first day I’ve logged onto my WordPress account for what feels like forever. I’m logged in on my phone, but I hardly ever use the app. I like the feeling of typing with a keyboard. I always ramble, like, always. I’m being genuinely serious when I say I’m literally typing my thoughts right now. No fancy wording, just the words in my head. Sorry, back to the story. So the last time I posted on this blog/website thingy was in September 2016. A whole six months ago! The post was about freshers week, which is funny to think about because in just over two months I will have completed my second year at medical school (providing I don’t have to resit my summer exams – everyone, let’s make a prayer circle). Believe me when I say I was meant to write up a whole spectrum of posts. A lot has happened this academic year and because I like to ramble oh so very much, I am going to tell you everything 🙂 Thank you in advance for taking the time out to read and apologies for the time you won’t get back. ❤

First things first, last semester was the hardest yet. It was the ‘mind and movement’ unit, full of hard-to-pronouce Latin words and complex brain… stuff. Honestly, whoever devised the content for that unit must have gone through a terrible break-up at the time or something because they really did not hold back. It’s as if they chanelled all their anger into that semester. The anatomy of the brain is truly mind-blowing. See what I did there? We learned about schizophrenia, parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, stroke and a whole load of other neurological conditions. The content was actually very interesting but usually it’s the interesting things that are the most complicated to understand. The brain is crazy. I can’t even count the number of times I wanted to bang my head against the wall. In fact, I think I probably did. Looking back, I’m not too sure how I made it through that semester but hey, I made it! I passed my January exams so no semester 3 resit for me! *wipes sweat*

What else happened?

Oh yeah, my OSCE. Every year we have an exam called an OSCE – I would tell you what it stands for but I actually can’t remember off the top of my head. Objective structured something exam? I literally googled it just now and it stands for ‘Objective Structured Clinical Examination’, so I was kinda close. The OSCE tests our practical skills, things like taking blood pressure, communication skills, neurological examinations etc., and we have ten stations in each exam. They gave us four stations in January so in May we’ll have the remaining six. The January stations didn’t go so well for me, I passed two and failed two. Altogether, we’re allowed to fail four stations out of ten. So, in May I can only fail a maximum of two stations of out six and that’s kiiiiind of stressing me out but, I’ll just have to priotise OSCE practice over revision. You win some you lose some.

Moving away from the academic side of things, I turned 20 in December. I am no longer a teen! I had anatomy class the day after my birthday and was nicely reminded by a friend that “it only goes downhill from here, Farah.”. Cheers, pal!

I’ve had a fair few ups and downs since September. The ups were very up and the downs were quite down. There was a period between mid-November-December where I felt extremely low. I started losing interest in what I was doing, I isolated myself from friends and started spending time alone, and it was rare to go through a day without feeling on the verge of tears. I reckon everybody has times when they feel like the walls are closing in on them and they’re not quite sure what to do or how to deal with it. However, I am out of that period and I’m feeling much better in myself, and in everything else really. Positivity and that 😉

Like I said before, the ups were very up! I’ve formed some amazing friendships so far this year and it makes me very grateful to know I’m surrounded by people who make me happy. People like that are important – keep them close! I’ve also tried out new food places (it’s always important to do this) and I’ve been to the theatre three times! I love the theatre but it’s usually so expensive. However, I managed to get nicely-priced tickets for three separate showings. I watched Blood Brothers in November, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in February, and The Woman in Black three days ago! Blood Brothers has got to be my favourite musical. Besides theatre-going and food-tasting, I also went back to the Peak District in January, to a place called Derwent Dam. It’s a beautiful place for walking. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise it was a 16 mile walk around the dam till we were about 9 miles in wondering where the car park was. It got quite scary towards the end of the walk because the sun had set and we still had no idea where the carpark was but that’s a post for another day.

Currently, I am burderned with a ten-page report that is due in this coming Friday. This particular report is about whether we’ll find a cure for HIV, which I actually find really interesting. I love researching the topic but it becomes that liiittle bit more annoying when a deadline is placed upon it. I sent off the first draft yesterday and I’m sure my tutor will have a lot to say about it. It was a shambles… that’s putting it nicely. She’ll give me some feedback on Tuesday and then I’ll spend a solid few days lacing it up and making it look all fancy nancy before submitting it and saying cya to the stress and hello to the Easter break. That’s the plan, anyway. Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at sticking to them 🙂

Till the next time, which will hopefully be within the next week!