Originally from Qatar, Shanmathi Mahesh is a third year MBBS student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in North West England. This is what a typical week in the life of Shanmathi involves.
I am at the beginning of Phase 2 of the MBBS programme, studying in Whitehaven, Cumbria at the UCLan Westlakes Campus – with clinical placements in West Cumberland Hospital. My typical week consists of one day of campus teaching and three days of placements in the hospital.
I usually start at 9am, for handovers in the wards where the Doctors and Nurses discuss the patient cases. I shadow Doctors, assisting in examining patients and take bloods. The afternoons vary. Recently we had a respiratory exam teaching session, where we went through the process and then practised it on patients in the wards. This was a great experience as it provided hands-on clinical practice, and gave me the confidence to perform these examinations on patients.
I go to the Westlakes campus every week for teaching sessions, case presentation sessions, and/or clinical skills sessions. This is to make sure that we are up to date with our skills and academic knowledge. It is really helpful as we get the opportunity to see some of the cases that are being taught on campus in the hospital wards.
This is usually the day we have free for self-study. I use this time to catch up with my studies, as well as the assignment which is due for that module.
9am start for patient handover. Recently we discussed an interesting case that was useful for learning and reading up on later. The case involved an elderly man with multiple brain tumours and the consultant was discussing his CT scan during the handover. I shadowed a Doctor while he spoke with patients, I had the opportunity to draw bloods, and I also observed a chest drain being inserted for the first time.
Again I started at 9am for handovers and observed the Doctors on ward rounds. As with the other placement days, our afternoons can vary; one example was having a neurological examination teaching session where we did a discussion of the examination and went out on the wards to try our learning with patients. The patients are always happy to help towards teaching and learning, which is a great benefit for us as medical students.
I usually just do some revision and practice questions on Saturday. Then I take Sundays off to go out with friends, relax, watch some TV shows or movies, and talk to family. As an international student, it can be difficult to keep in touch with my family who live miles away. However, I do prioritise it as I find that it’s essential to keep me feeling positive.
Life as a medical student can be overwhelming with pressure to do well in your studies, but it is also very varied. It is great to put our learning into practice with plenty of placements. I look forward to attending my placements in Surgery, Medicine and General Practice blocks, as these will help me find where my personal interest is to pursue a particular speciality in the future. I am also keen on learning how the teams work in these specialities and improving my learning as I move forward through this year.
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