Another beginning

After the first month and a half of the second year of medicine, the first semester is slowly coming to an end and we have to once again start thinking about the upcoming January exams. Two weeks ago, we had finished the respiratory system and have started the gastrointestinal system.

Each of these systems comprises a number of lectures in physiology, pharmacology, histology, pathophysiology, and as well anatomical prosections. After each of these systems, we embark on a clinical week spent in one of the local hospitals and GP surgeries, where we talk to patients, obtain their medical histories and carry out examinations in each of the respective systems.

Throughout the rest of the year, we will further focus on renal, endocrine, reproductive and nervous system. Another part of the second year of medical school at University of Bristol is a four week-long clinical placement in local hospitals called the “LITHE” (Learning in the Hospital Environment). Its aim is to prepare students for the necessary clinical aspects of the third year, as it is entirely based in clinical setting with only a small number of lectures.

As part of the Student Selected Component (SSC) scheme, we must take up a subject out of about twenty different options to increase our scope of understanding beyond medicine, ranging from advanced dissection and deaf studies to European languages of all levels. I think this is a great opportunity how to do something else than medicine and so I started learning French.

The second part of the SSC scheme is a library-based project on any medical topic of our interest, or a currently researched topic by one of the medical science departments. I have chosen the latter and am therefore researching the cardiac arrhythmia-linked syndromes of gain-of-function mutations in potassium channel subunits.

Simultaneously, I weekly visit the laboratory of cardiac physiology led by Prof. Mark Cannell to learn the different laboratory technique and familiarize myself with research environment. I am also learning to work with laser confocal microscope by scanning samples of ventricular myocytes with different binding proteins. I am also reading up on everything there is about calcium signalling in cardiac cells to have a sound background knowledge for my SSC library project.

Furthermore, I have also become President of Bristol Society of Medical Education & Research. Our aim is to raise awareness of research opportunities for medical undergraduate students and make undergraduate research more approachable in general. As of this moment, we are in the process of planning an event that will focus on career pathway from being an undergraduate student to a doctor working as an academic clinician.

I believe science and research are extremely important for anyone wanting to work as a doctor and I am, therefore, trying my best to use all the opportunities there are. If everything goes as planned, I will be soon applying for a summer research internship called “Amgen Scholars”, but more about that later.

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