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Written by Laura Cowlbeck

A day in the life of a fourth year medical student

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doctor
career
5 min read
Laura Cowlbeck

Being a fourth year medical student at HYMS is pretty similar to third year, except for the different blocks and topics we're studying.

But, it's the same mix of being based on a ward relating to the speciality you’re on, attending clinics andtheatre lists, bedside teaching with consultants, independent study time, online teaching, and one day of GP placement a week.

In fourth year, the four blocks you have are Acute Medicine, Neuro+ MSK+Geriatics, Womens’ Health+Dermatology and Children’s Health+ENT+Ophthalmology.

Gaining clinical experience

Currently I’m based on Women’s Health, which I'm really excited about as this has always been my favourite specialty throughout medical school. This week I had ward time allocated, antenatal and elective C-section clinics, several bedside teaching slots, GP placement and inductions (as it’s the start of a new rotation).

For this rotation, I’m based in Hull. I was based in Hull for my first two years of university, so I’m pretty familiar with the city and the hospital itself. The other locations you can be allocated are include York, Scarborough, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

HYMS are pretty good, and throughout your three clinical placement years, they do try and allocate you most of the sites so you can experience different NHS trusts and teaching styles.

What a typical day looks like

This is what a typical day looks like for me during my women's health block: 

  • 6:45am - I woke up and showered. I had my breakfast of overnight oats (I'd really recommend these if you’re like me and not a morning person - it gives you extra time in the morning!) and of course, a cup of tea to wake me up.
  • 7:30am - Me and my placement buddy set off for the hospital, as we had an early start and wanted to get our bearings on our first day. The drive isn’t too bad but the parking that can be tricky at hospitals, so going early definitely is the right idea.
  • 8am - We arrived at hospital and changed into our scrubs, as you can’t travel in placement clothes due to infection control. My placement buddy and I then parted ways for the morning. She has Antenatal Day Unit, whilst I have Antenatal Clinic.
  • 8:15am - I arrived at Antenatal Clinic and introduced myself to the receptionists. They told me to take a seat and wait for my consultant to arrive.
  • 8:30am - At this time, one of the midwives invited me to wait in the clinic rooms instead of the waiting area. Here I got to speak to midwives about the organisation and running of the antenatal clinic, and to also find out about what type of patients they usually have.
  • 9:30am - My consultant finally arrived. I think a big part of medicine can be waiting around, but you have to make the most of this - whether it’s speaking to other healthcare professionals or even doing question banks (PassMed, QuesMed) on your phone. The consultant explained she was busy on the ward round and apologised, even though she really didn’t need to.
  • 11am - The clinic finished for the morning. I did a lot of observing, which I was grateful for with it being my first day back after Christmas (and also my first day on Women’s Health). I think my obstetric history and examination taking is quite rusty, as the last time I did this was in second year, so I really appreciated watching the consultant run the clinic. I also saw some valuable patients, including traumatic birth postnatal debrief, pregnancy with a large for gestational age fetus, and several pregnant women who had Crohn’s disease. Pregnant women who have a chronic disease, such as Crohn’s, must take medication that could affect the pregnancy, but also the chronic disease can get worse or better in either the ante partum or postpartum period, and it’s important to speak to these women about both things.
  • 11am-1pm - I had some free time to write up notes I made during the clinic, as well as having my lunch. The early morning starts really change my eating pattern. I then typed up a few more notes for the block. I like typing my notes up first with my own research based on the learning outcomes, then watching lectures to clarify this learning, before pea ring my knowledge with question banks.
  • 1pm - We had a sharps update in the afternoon. We must wear full PPE to prepare ourselves for what is expected on the ward - visors, goggles, face mask, gloves and apron. We practiced sterile technique with blood cultures, and then had some time doing venepuncture and cannulas to improve our skills.
  • 4pm – We walked back home from the hospital which is about a 30 minute walk. It was nice to get some fresh air and to have a debrief with my friend talking about both our days.
  • 5pm - Once I got home, I made my tea. I decided on fajitas as they are my favourite, so they seemed like the perfect meal after my first day back!
  • 6pm - I got myself ready and headed to the gym. I get the bus there just because it's so cold and dark at the moment. I was doing a glutes-focused day at the gym, so I was very tired afterwards.
  • 7:30pm - I left the gym feeling very tired, and also very excited to get back to the warmth of my flat.
  • 8pm - After getting back from the gym, I chilled out and watched tv for a while. I always like to relax with a cup of tea and biscuits. At the moment I’m watching Killing Eve, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a new series to watch.
  • 9:30pm - After relaxing for an hour or so, I completed a few last notes before bed. I like doing this if I have a teaching session I’m not too familiar with the following day.
  • 10pm - I had a shower and did my skin care routine as I started winding down for the night.
  • 10:30-11pm - To finish off my day, I get in bed and spend some time on my phone (definitely just on TikTok...) before going to sleep to start another busy day tomorrow.