31 May 2016

timetabling: how to deal with a lack of structure on placement

This year has been all five week placements and sometimes, I'm given a set timetable to follow but other times I'm not. This can make it hard to find the motivation to go in or even plan your social life for the week! I thought I'd explain how I deal with a lack of structure on placement.

Firstly, have a week-to-view table that you can use to plan each placement day. You'll most likely be given dates and times where there'll be teaching so write those in immediately. Next, find out what clinics, theatres, other learning opportunities there are - find out when they happen and what time and then decide what you'd like to do. Fill your blank spaces with these. If you also do a sport/extracurricular activity on a regular basis, write those down.

I know this all sounds like common sense but I was surprised at how some of my fellow medical students hadn't even done something like this. Maybe I'm just obsessive about organisation but in medicine, I feel you have to be at least moderately organised to ensure that you get all your assessments done in a timely manner, etc.

Below are my weekly timetables; firstly in a blank notebook and secondly in my Hobonichi (which has been invaluable this year for keeping on top of things).

29 May 2016

my week #215

This was my last week on Geriatrics and it actually felt quite sad! I've grown quite attached to the patients who I saw on a daily basis on ward round. It's not a specialty I'd want to go into (not enough practical procedures for my liking!) but I can see why it would be fulfilling. I go onto five weeks of Gastroenterology next and then it's exam time (eek!). Revision has started but I'm also scheduling in days and times where I just relax and not do anything medicine-related.

How has your week been?

26 May 2016

my study week #12: anatomy

Anatomy is a huge topic - no matter how much you know, there'll always be something more to learn. At least, that's how it feels to me. I've been fairly lucky in that the way anatomy is taught at my medical school means that it is all applied to a clinical setting. You could argue that this causes holes in our learning but so far, I've done okay in the anatomy sections of exams and also on placement when questioned on the anatomy of x or y.

With anatomy, I think it has to be a visual thing - the dissection room definitely helps, plastinated models are also good if you can get access to them and for me, drawing things out with the addition of a bit of colour.

An invaluable tool that has also worked for me are the Netter's anatomy flashcards. Perfect for testing yourself and also visualising things in a two-dimensional way, ready to consolidate your knowledge in theatre/practical sessions.

Do you have any tricks for learning anatomy?

24 May 2016

book: you and me, always by jill mansell

Back at the end of January/beginning of February, I started reading this offering from Jill Mansell. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover and that's precisely this book to the T. I'm happy to report that the novel matches the cover though - it's a sweet book with a cute story.

It always bodes well when a book has a map on the inside of the cover! How dreamy does the village of Stanton Langley look?! When reading this book, Stanton Langley sounds like the type of place I'd love to live in - a place where everyone knows each other but are willing to help each other out when necessary. And it's in the countryside - perfect!

You and Me, Always revolves around Lily - a 25 year old girl who has been through an awful lot in her short life. We're introduced to those around her - Dan, Coral and Patsy being the main ones. Enter Eddie Tessler, a world-famous actor who has girls falling at his feet yet he only has eyes for Lily. Not going to lie - I think I found myself with a crush on him because he just sounded so dreamy!

To begin with, I found the book a bit confusing. Was the main plot about Lily finding out more about her mum or was it about Lily's love life? In spite of all this, it's still a good read and although it was a bit predictable, it's perfect if you're after something that is a feel good, happy book that will keep you reading. It wasn't one that made me super eager to find out what happens next so because of that, I'll give it a 6.5/10.

22 May 2016

my week #214

My penultimate week on geriatrics and exams are now just around the corner (eek!). Revision has kicked up a notch but I still found time to chill out with some friends on Friday evening. It was a lovely evening filled with food, drinks and board games - just my kind of (geeky) night!

How has your week been?

19 May 2016

the 2016 lamy safari: dark lilac

When I heard that this year's Lamy Safari limited edition was to be a purple one, I knew it would be a pen I had to have. Deciding to order it from The Writing Desk, I added in three ink samples too and the service and communication from this company were just amazing. I get no commission for saying this - just very happy with the service I received!

Naturally, I ordered the pen with an extra fine nib and it actually writes a finer line than my other Lamy extra fine nib. However, ink flow isn't great but I remember that also being the case at first with my other EF so I'll give it time to smooth out before vetoing it completely! The colour of the barrel is just dreamy - it is a sophisticated, rich purple and the matte texture definitely makes it a more mature alternative to my Lamy Safari in neon coral! It also means that slippage is less likely to occur with prolonged use - ideal for long note-taking sessions!

Overall, I love this year's limited edition just as much as I love my neon coral one from 2014. I don't think this'll be a start of a limited edition Safari collection but I can definitely still see myself investing in more in the future if the right colours were released :)

To read more of my thoughts on the Lamy Safari, please see my original post on the neon coral back in 2014.

18 May 2016

my ten favourite pens in my collection at the start of 2016

Today, I thought I'd share my ten favourite pens in my collection at the beginning of the year. This is in no particular order and it's taken me almost six months to write this blog post (sorry!). I'll do an updated one at the end of the year so we can see what has changed :-)

Fountain Pens

Top to bottom: Lamy Safari Coral, TWSBI 580AL purple, Pilot Vanishing Point in Raden, Platinum 3776 Century Nice, Pilot Kakuno.
It's no surprise that fountain pens make up half of my top ten list. I use them on a daily basis now and I've grown to like how my handwriting looks when using them. All of the above fountain pens serve a purpose:

- Lamy Safari is my placement pen that goes around my lanyard
- TWSBI 580AL is my journal pen
- Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776 and Pilot Kakuno are all used for note-making.

Gel Pens, Highlighters, Biros and Brush Pens

Top to bottom: Muji gel pen, Zebra Mildliner, Pilot Juice gel pen, Bic biro and a Kuretake Zig Cocoiro.
These other pens also serve a different purpose each. They all make my top ten because of how well they write, their price point and also how invaluable they've been for me over the last few years.

Biros are great for writing on blood bottles when necessary (due to the shiny stickers) so a biro or two will always make my top ten for this reason. I've been raving about Muji gels since I started this blog so no introduction needed there. The others are used for note-making as a way to highlight and make my notes look a bit more colourful!

What pens would make your top ten?

15 May 2016

my week #213

This was my first week on geriatrics and it's been interesting so far. With exams now about two months away, I've spent a lot of my evenings in revision lectures. I'm trying to focus on the bigger picture in that all this exhaustion will be worth it in the long run. My planner looks really plain at the moment because all of my university-related to-dos are on various post-it notes in my room!

How has your week been?

12 May 2016

another ink: diamine grape

This time, we're taking a break from all the blue-black madness and instead, I have a bit of Diamine Grape for you. I'm a huge fan of Diamine inks and have yet to try one that has disappointed me. Diamine Grape doesn't buck this trend and it is currently my ink of choice for journaling.

10 May 2016

sailor four seasons yukitsubaki fountain pen in medium fine

Late last year, I succumbed and ordered one of these Sailor fountain pens. It came whizzing all the way from Japan (as I couldn't find a UK seller) and it is my first Sailor pen. I've heard many great things about this brand so I was eager to try them out and this pen didn't disappoint.

I chose the Sailor Four Seasons Yukitsubaki and it came with a medium-fine gold nib. The barrel is a lovely ivory colour with faint, pretty little pink dots on them - they are meant to imitate camellia flowers that bloom in the winter.

The nib is beautiful - you can see the lovely etching on it and it also writes pretty well too! Super smooth, no feedback and it glides easily on both expensive and cheap paper.

I've had it inked with a Sailor cartridge initially but then swiftly teamed it with J. Herbin's Rouille d'Ancre. Here is a writing sample (sorry about the image quality!): 

Overall, a great pen with a lovely design, lightweight yet sturdy build and a brilliant nib. It's not the finest nib I have but it is still one that I like. I'm a sucker for a pretty pen and this is exactly what the Sailor Yukitsubaki is :)

8 May 2016

my week #212

This week was an entertaining one - I met a consultant who had me in stitches of laughter though he didn't do much teaching. On Wednesday, a group of friends and I went to one of the many London escape rooms and we managed to escape in 48 minutes and 55 seconds without a single argument! Amazing how a group of good friends can work so well together as a team :) I'd definitely recommend doing one if you're into teamwork, puzzles and something different.

How has your week been?

5 May 2016

posters for those 'hard to remember' topics

Last academic year, I made posters for the major conditions we needed to know about and this year, I followed the same routine. Because the number of conditions I need to know about has increased by about a thousand fold (kind of kidding), I needed to be more selective with what things I dump onto a side of A4. Here are three examples :)

Multiple Sclerosis

I'm okay with talking about multiple sclerosis, theories as to its cause, investigations and treatments, etc but when you throw in the phrase 'internuclear ophthalmoplegia', I break out in a cold sweat. This made me decide that it might be a good idea to put it on a poster to at least try and make it easier to understand.

MND and Parkinson's Disease

These two topics are ones that I'm generally okay with but the different types of MND and the Parkinson's treatment options can be overwhelming, especially for someone like me who has no interest whatsoever in neurology. 


Finally, malaria! Similar to the previous example, the different types of malaria and the treatment options can be quite easy to mix up so to put it on a poster can allow me to organise it all easier in my mind. It also gave me the opportunity to draw a cute little anopheles mosquito too (though they are not so cute if you think about the chaos they can create through a little bite).

I talked about posters here and also here if you want to see/read more :)

3 May 2016

what's in my bag #18: surgery placement

With it almost half a year since I last did one of these, I thought it was time for another. This time, I have a new bag - one that is more floppy so I can stuff more into it but still small enough to carry around on ward round.

Clockwise from top left: Hobonichi, Oxford Handbook of Clinical Surgery, a cheap black gel pen, a black biro, Lucozade tablets and mints.
Around my neck is usually a stethoscope and on my lanyard is a roll of tape, a pen torch and my Lamy. In my pocket is usually a tissue (my nose can be quite sensitive so always useful to have a tissue on me!) and sometimes a neuro tip or a vacutainer (for blood taking) or two.

I used to carry a snack around with me but I've never felt the urge to eat whilst on ward round (surgical ward rounds are super quick!). However, Lucozade tablets are always in my bag in case I ever need a burst of sugar (hot wards + not enough sleep = a sleepy upright medical student).

Sometimes I carry around extra pieces of paper and some lip balm but I try and lug around as little as possible and only carry the necessities as shown above. One thing not shown is my water bottle - this comes everywhere with me as I'm conscious of the fact that I never drink enough on placement. 

1 May 2016

my week #211

Thank goodness it's May! April has been a pretty awful month so I'm glad it's now over. This week was my first of two on a cardiology rotation and so far so good. The teaching is great and some of the best I've had over the last two clinical years so far. A few of my friends have had a fluey/cold-like illness and I think it has finally found it's way over to me this weekend so I'm taking it fairly easy.

Earlier this week, there were two days of junior doctor strikes here in the UK - the first time all junior doctors, including emergency care ones, have walked out. With the future of the NHS uncertain, it doesn't feel like a great time to be at medical school and a lot of us are worried about what this all means for our future training.

How has your week been?