Respiratory has been and gone…

I’m not quite sure how the last month managed to pass by without a post, certainly I had plenty of them rolling around in my head, and yet between lectures, classes and a couple very busy weekends with the choir, I find that the term has finished and the first week of vacation is almost over. Help!

After the plethora of different subjects thrown at us during the Principles Block, we’ve now moved into Systems in Practice, which will last until the end of third year. The last 6 weeks we’ve been studying various aspects of the Respiratory System – common respiratory conditions, medications used and their mechanisms of action, how to take a respiratory history from a patient, and how to perform a respiratory examination. After 8 weeks of scientific theory, we now feel far more like medical students than in the first half of the semester!

Unlike Principles when we spent most of our time down on campus, we are now based almost full time at the medical school at Ninewells Hospital, with only anatomy classes on campus.  Generally speaking we have a couple lectures each morning, often followed by a 2 hour class in the morning, and another 2 hour class most afternoons.  In addition to Clinical Skills, where we have the chance to practice our history taking and examination skills in a classroom environment with the help of volunteer patients, we also have a weekly ward based teaching session.  These sessions vary each week, depending on the ward we’re visiting and whether there are any patients fit enough and willing to have a chat with us.  The sessions are a fantastic way to learn, but can also be rather intimidating as the consultants & registrars pose questions to test our knowledge, or give us the chance to take a history from the patient or perform an examination.  Now we’ve reached the end of the block I’m finally managing to wield my stethoscope a little more convincingly!

Unlike many of our fellow students, we didn’t have any exams before the Christmas break, with the exception of the Basic Emergency Care practical. I was ridiculously nervous, which doesn’t bode well for OSCEs, and tripped over my tongue any number of times in my desperation to get the answers out. Fortunately, despite feeling like I made a total idiot of myself, I managed to pass!

One of the strangest things about coming to the end of term was how often people would ask me when I was going home for Christmas. Unlike most of my fellow students, I’ve moved to Dundee permanently (or least, for the duration of my medical degree!), so I’m having to adjust again to the concept that Dundee is home now. That said, the first thing I did when term finished was hop on a couple planes back to The Netherlands for a long weekend, so that I could sing Choral Evensong with my old choir and catch up with my friends. I had a great visit and I’m already wondering when I can manage another trip back.

I’m looking forward to the arrival of my parents and sister for my first Christmas in Dundee.  The only fly in the ointment currently is my boiler, which is playing up on a rather too regular basis, especially considering that it usually choses to fail when the weather’s bad – just when I need it the most. Having clad its condensate pipes in insulation this afternoon, I’m hoping that it’s going to turn over a new leaf otherwise it may be a rather miserable visit for everyone, considering that when it fails there is neither heating nor hot water for showers.

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Natasha is from the UK, but has been working as a software developer in The Netherlands for the past 13 years. She's moving to Dundee on a permanent basis with her 3 cats, and is going to be studying Medicine.

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