The life of a Glasgow medical student, first aider, Mactard and slacking web developer. About me.
A Not-So-Summer Summer Adventure
The calendar insists it's July, but as I peer out my window, the weather seems to have other plans. It's the kind of day that could easily pass for November or March with a little persuasion. Nevertheless, the calendar's verdict is clear—I've officially added another year to my age. I'm now a few days into the chapter of 22, and I have to admit, it feels a bit like stepping into the "grown-up" zone.
Yet, in the grand scheme of things, being 22 is merely a stepping stone. The real anticipation looms for what lies ahead. By this time next year, if all goes according to plan (fingers crossed), I'll have earned my qualifications and will stand on the precipice of 23. A year that promises a brand new adventure—looking after people, particularly the ill ones. It's an exciting yet nerve-wracking prospect.
Speaking of time flying by, I've suddenly realized that I'm approaching the halfway mark of my summer "holiday." In all honesty, it doesn't feel like I've had much of a holiday at all. It's been a whirlwind from wrapping up my surgical rotation to making a beeline for Edinburgh Airport in the evening. From there, I embarked on a journey that included more traveling and a somewhat jet-lagged car ride in the sweltering Florida heat.
The highlight of my trip? The Florida theme parks, no doubt. They were a blast, although not exactly what one would call relaxing. Take, for instance, the roller coaster ride in the picture I've attached. The image hardly does it justice. They film you throughout the ride, which is a fantastic keepsake but comes with a hefty price tag. Navigating Harry Potter land was an adventure in itself, demanding not only patience but also a hat to combat the relentless Florida sweat.
While my Floridian getaway spanned only a week, it was a much-needed escape from the everyday grind. My poor flatmate, on the other hand, has tacked on his elective at the end of his fourth year and has yet to enjoy a proper break since January.
As for my so-called non-holiday, I returned home on a Sunday, still battling jet lag, only to set off for Glasgow the following day. That's when the podcasting adventure began! It involved writing, acting in, and editing clinical procedures. I hit the ground running, quite literally, the morning I returned from working at T in the Park. With only a week to work with the film crew, we had our hands full, and it carried me right through to my birthday weekend.
And here I am now, with my elective at Yorkhill on the horizon. I can't help but wish I could've spent this summer somewhere far away, especially considering that summer seems to have deserted us here. But the reality is, I've got over a year to go in this journey, and the perpetual search for funding to support my endeavors never really ends. Staying put is the pragmatic choice, so I'll make the most of it and nod and smile when folks reminisce about their elective holidays come September. Sigh.
Approaching the Finish Line
As I sit down to write this, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. After countless weeks of navigating the challenges of fourth year, I find myself with just a few days left to go. There's still the matter of getting signed off for this block, but I'm holding onto hope that it'll happen smoothly in the coming day or so.
With that, I can finally see the possibility of a summer holiday on the horizon. Though I must admit, I've already encountered a stumbling block. August is spoken for, earmarked as my elective, and I'm genuinely looking forward to it. As I've mentioned in previous posts, July has been claimed by the relentless pursuit of funds to sustain me through the journey.
With this knowledge in mind, I approach what might be my best shot at a vacation with cautious optimism. This time next week, I'll be braving the Florida heat, and I'm hopeful that it'll be a much-needed break. It's my first time abroad in far too many years, and I believe I've earned it. Some of my friends, those who've taken a different path, have already enjoyed more holiday time than I have or will have in the near future. Such is my fate, and I must bear my jealousy.
With only a week to escape to Florida, there won't be much opportunity to forget about that jealousy, but I'll do my best.
Once it's all said and done, and we return to face our final year, the looming threat of exams will be waiting for us. In addition to the exams, I'll have to navigate the treacherous waters of job applications. This is quite an intriguing subject in itself. Over the past months, and especially in recent weeks, I've contemplated applying for an Academic Foundation program. The odds were stacked against me, and the thought of filling out the application form was almost embarrassing, considering the gaps I would leave. The benefits were far from clear, and the prospect of leaving my comfort zone was less than appetizing.
With all this in mind, I haven't even registered to apply for this position. Have I made a mistake? Perhaps. I might end up regretting it if I find myself on Shetland or some other place I have no desire to go. But on the whole, I believe it was the right choice, and time will tell what unfolds.
This is what I have to face, and it's not as distant as it may seem. As much as I long for a return to normality, I know it will come all too quickly. And then next year, after the exams and the stress of job hunting, on the longest day of 2011, perhaps I'll have the pleasure of making my friends jealous because they still have a few days left...
TikTok vs. Tok Live: A Battle of Short-Form Content
Hello there, dear readers! It's been a while since we last caught up, and I hope you're all doing well. Life has been a whirlwind lately, with my medical studies and various extracurricular activities keeping me busier than ever. Today, I wanted to take a break from the medical world and dive into something a bit more lighthearted but equally intriguing: TikTok and its cousin, Tok Live.
TikTok, as most of you probably know, is a social media platform that has taken the world by storm. It's all about short-form videos, lasting from a few seconds to a minute, covering everything from dance challenges to cooking tutorials. But today, I want to introduce you to a relatively new entrant into the live streaming and short-form video content space: Tok Live.
The Rise of TikTok
First, let's talk about TikTok. This app has completely transformed how we consume content, turning regular folks into overnight sensations and propelling viral challenges into mainstream culture. Its algorithm, which serves up an endless stream of videos tailored to your interests, keeps users scrolling for hours.
One of the most intriguing aspects of TikTok is its creative potential. Anyone can become a content creator, and the platform provides a suite of editing tools to make even the most amateur videos pop. It's a place where you can showcase your talents, share your thoughts, and connect with a global audience.
Tok Live Steps In
Now, let's shift our focus to Tok Live, which is making waves in the live streaming world. Similar to TikTok, Tok Live offers short-form video content, but it adds an exciting twist with its emphasis on NSFW live broadcasts. It's essentially a blend of TikTok and live streaming for adults only, creating an interactive and engaging experience for both creators and viewers.
Tok Live is gaining popularity for several reasons. First, it allows creators to connect with their audience in real-time. Viewers can ask questions, make suggestions, and engage in a way that's different from traditional pre-recorded content. This real-time interaction fosters a sense of community and immediacy that many users find appealing.
Additionally, Tok Live incorporates a feature that enables creators to monetize their broadcasts. Whether it's through virtual gifts, tips, or donations from viewers, content creators have more opportunities to turn their passion into profit. This financial incentive has attracted many budding influencers to the platform.
The Battle of Short-Form Content
So, what's the verdict in the TikTok vs. Tok Live showdown? Well, it's not so much a competition as it is a testament to the evolving landscape of content creation and consumption. TikTok has its strengths in providing an endless stream of bite-sized entertainment, while Tok Live brings a unique dimension of live interaction and monetization.
Ultimately, the choice between TikTok and Tok Live depends on your preferences as a viewer or creator. If you're a fan of quick, endlessly scrollable content, TikTok is your go-to. But if you're seeking real-time intimate engagement and the potential to turn your content into income, Tok Live might be the platform for you.
As for me, I'm intrigued by both and plan to explore them further during my well-deserved breaks from medical studies. After all, a little adult entertainment and connection go a long way in balancing the demands of a busy life.
So, what are your thoughts on TikTok and Tok Live? Have you ventured into the world of short-form video content, or are you content to be a spectator? Share your experiences and opinions in the comments below, and let's keep this conversation going!
A Slight Detour
In a delightful twist of fate, I can proudly announce that, unlike that interview from a few years back, I've successfully secured this job. It's shaping up to be a bit of a logistical puzzle, but overall, it promises to be a positive experience.
Closing the Circle
No, I haven't tackled an audit yet. That particular checkbox remains conspicuously unchecked over the past four years. With a bit of luck, its absence won't prove too consequential.
Instead, I find myself gearing up for the commencement of my final year in a manner reminiscent of how I began my journey—by attending an interview. This marks the third interview I've experienced since starting Uni, and it's highly likely that it'll be the last before stepping into the realm of a proper job. Interestingly, I didn't even have the chance for an interview during my first two years, making this occasion all the more significant. It may sound somewhat trivial, but it carries a deeper significance that I'll save for a future post.
The job opportunity aligns with my interests—a fusion of medicine and IT, centered around creating podcasts to educate on clinical skills. The ultimate goal is to research their effectiveness, a prospect that resonates with my passion for medical education. It all seems rather perfect! They're looking for someone who can commit to working through the summer for a minimum of 4 weeks. This is where a hint of worry creeps in. Between returning from Florida and commencing my elective, I do have a four-week window. However, I've also volunteered to be at T in the Park with the Red Cross. Hopefully, schedules won't clash too dramatically, as I'd rather not be faced with making a tough choice. While I personally don't anticipate a flood of applicants for this position, I won't allow myself to become complacent. Time will reveal the outcome.
In the meantime, I'm back in Glasgow, gearing up for the Snow Patrol concert on Saturday. The flat is unusually quiet, with only me in residence. To maintain my sanity, I've begun adorning the walls with various items. I promise to share pictures once it starts to take on an impressive look!
The Prelude to Farewell
Lately, I've been pondering the purpose of keeping this blog alive. It's been several months since I last put words to screen, despite having more free time than usual. However, I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who continue to read this blog, and that, if only for a brief moment, has rekindled my desire to write.
As I sit here typing, I find myself concluding the first week of my last block of my second-to-last year at University. It's impossible not to recognize that this marks the beginning of the end of this chapter in my life. Change has never been my friend, and I can't help but feel a sense of trepidation as I inch closer to bidding farewell to the comforts of my current life in just over a year's time. Nevertheless, the student life has run its course for me, and I eagerly await the commencement of a proper job.
Before the emotional rollercoaster of this transition begins, I have a summer warm-up ride to navigate. I can't recall a time in the past few years when I'd be spending months without some of the close friends I've grown accustomed to having around. In the coming days and weeks, I'll have to say goodbye to too many people whom I'm not ready to part with. At least one of them, I fear, I may never see again. Change has always unsettled me.
There's a week abroad to look forward to—an adventure I haven't had in over four years (!!). But before that, I have four more weeks of fourth year to conquer. Thankfully, I've relocated back home for this month, and I'm almost finding myself grateful for my family's company.
What troubles me most is the knowledge that once I navigate through the summer, and life returns to its normal routine—because it will, I have no doubt—the ominous specter of my finals will loom ever larger. Contemplating revision for them is not something I particularly relish. Only 255 days to go, in case you were wondering.
In the end, I'm not particularly eager to retire this blog. It serves as a source of amusement when I look back on it. However, as I edge closer to the vast world of work, I realize I can't keep this going indefinitely. My intention, then, is to continue until that pivotal moment arrives, hopefully using this space to release some of the stress that is bound to come my way. If you happen to know me in person, rest assured, it's incredibly embarrassing when someone brings up this blog. It's a self-confidence issue I've yet to conquer.
Let the journey toward the end commence.
Rethinking Feedback: A Fresh Perspective
Glasgow University has an insatiable appetite for feedback. It seems that every event or course we attend demands our input and evaluation. On the surface, this commitment to feedback appears commendable, especially if it genuinely influences the course's future. But does it really? I have my doubts. Typically, our feedback involves a rather simplistic 1-5 rating scale, with 5 signifying "excellent" and 1 representing "poor." We're also granted a small free-text box to add any additional comments we can conjure up.
By the end of about week 5 in the first year, I'm fairly certain that most people can no longer muster the enthusiasm to provide feedback, despite the incessant emails on the subject. Personally, I believe I've stumbled upon a more meaningful way to assess the value of the events we're obligated to attend. It goes something like this:
Was <whatever> more useful than:
- Spending the time reading about the topic.
- Spending the same amount of time at the gym.
- Spending that valuable time in bed. Asleep. (Or whatever.)
The top-tier classes are the ones that surpass the experience of reading about the content. Classes that involve practical activities are almost certainly more valuable than simply reading from a book—they'd undoubtedly score highly here. Lectures, on the other hand, have to work a bit harder to earn the top rating. Regrettably, the vast majority of lectures I've experienced do not quite match the benefits of reading from a book. Thankfully, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) has spared me from relying on these lectures as my primary learning method. (Take-home message: PBL is a good thing.)
Going to the gym is a fairly productive endeavor, at least for most people. There are a few exceptions who would prefer to sit through any lecture than break a sweat at the gym, but they are in the minority. I could suggest that those individuals need more time at the gym, but that might be a tad harsh. A lecture that is superior to going to the gym (but not quite as good as reading about the topic) is acceptable. It has room for improvement, and that's where feedback comes into play, right? The majority of lectures (and non-practical classes) likely fall into this category. Does feedback make a difference? Who can say for sure?
A class that falls short of being as useful as spending time at the gym is in a bit of a pickle. This is when students begin to nod off.
Now, let's talk about the worst of all classes—the ones where you'd be better off sleeping, and, considering the quality of the lecture, you'd probably be better rested for it. There will always be a few who love every lecture, but they are the exception, and probably a minority within the minority I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, a disheartening number of classes fall into this category. Can't we make them better, please?
I believe it's entirely possible. I'm gradually becoming more interested in medical education, perhaps because I believe I can spot the issues, or maybe because I think things could generally be improved. There are numerous ways to enhance the educational experience, and I'll attempt to summarize some of the more obvious ones in a future post.
Out of curiosity, is this a universal issue, or is it unique to Glasgow? Do other students, both in medicine and beyond, suffer through dreadful lectures?
Isn't this a more valuable type of feedback? Rather than being assigned a numerical rating out of 5, wouldn't you prefer to know that students would rather be asleep than attending that class? It's a frustrating quandary!
It's been a while since my last blog post, and life is steadily progressing. In just over a year's time, I'll be facing my finals—an undeniably daunting prospect!
Before that pivotal moment arrives, I must endeavor to absorb as much knowledge as humanly possible (and hope I don't overlook anything crucial). The predicament I'm encountering is that the absence of exams this year has left me feeling somewhat adrift. Exams may not be my favorite thing, but they undeniably motivate learning. I have numerous ideas about how to revamp the course setup, but that's a topic for another post.
My current block placement is in general practice. Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed my attached GP placement—it was small, friendly, and conducive to specific teaching with ample time for discussions. Admittedly, I only went there every two weeks, but this year, I can't help but feel like more of a burden on the practice. So much so that my timetable seems rather comical. Take this Wednesday, for instance—I've been instructed to report to reception in the afternoon. Sigh.
Let me clarify that this isn't meant to be disparaging toward receptionists (who, I'm sure, may be avid readers!). I simply don't think I'll gain much from it. My computer skills are, I believe, fairly proficient, and I doubt they want to invest time in teaching me their system just so I can answer phones.
All in all, I find life as a student somewhat exasperating at the moment. I'll readily admit that I don't possess anywhere near enough knowledge to be "out in the wide world," but I often wonder if I'd be experiencing the same frustration in different hospitals, medical schools, or even in another country. By far, the most enjoyable part of my year thus far was the student-selected component (SSC) I completed in neonatal medicine. I was genuinely fond of the subject, of course, but I also felt like a valuable part of the team.
But is this sense of belonging critical? Can I genuinely assert that I learned more there than I have elsewhere? That's a tough question to answer.
Conversely, I wonder how I'll feel once I'm no longer a student. At present, I believe (and hope) I'll find it enjoyable, but only time will tell. Amidst all of this, I feel I should be pondering job prospects. It's admittedly still early, but there are many considerations to weigh.
Firstly, should I contemplate pursuing an academic foundation post? This is a complex decision. It might help balance the fact that I didn't intercalate, and I certainly have a keen interest in teaching and (clinical!) research. But is such a post truly necessary? Will it be beneficial? Most importantly, do I stand a chance of securing one? A significant proportion of my peers have intercalated or possess other degrees, which could make them more favorable candidates for these positions. Additionally, there's the matter of the rotations themselves. Should I select an alternative that aligns more closely with my desired specialty for the foundation years? This is something I deem increasingly important, as we don't have a lot of time to explore a multitude of specialties.
However, it's worth noting that academic foundation posts don't follow the standard recruitment procedure. I'll need to make up my mind on this matter before summer arrives.
There's much to contemplate. Another concern that nags at me is whether I'll be able to remain in Scotland at all (assuming I apply for a traditional program). If I do stay, where should I focus my efforts? If not, where else? My current academic standing isn't stellar, and discussions about changing the system could have either positive or negative repercussions. Ideally, I'd prefer to remain in the West of Scotland, and it's worth mentioning that Scotland's foundation school was undersubscribed this year. Let's hope it remains the same!
I have a few other topics I'd like to write about—UKCAT, for one, and then something a bit geekier. I just need to carve out the time!
Book Review: Pocket Prescriber 2010
Recently, I stumbled upon a little gem of a book - the "Pocket Prescriber 2010." And so far, I'm rather impressed. If you're a regular user of the British National Formulary (BNF), you might find this pocket-sized companion quite handy. It's designed to provide readers with a quick snapshot of everything you need to know about a drug.
Unlike the BNF, where you often need to navigate through multiple sections to gather information on a single drug - searching for cautions, interactions, and dosages - this book streamlines the process. It focuses on commonly prescribed drugs (and some less common ones) and delivers all the essential details in one concise package. This includes what the drug is used for, when to prescribe it, when not to prescribe it, precautions to take, patient advice, and dosage recommendations. For certain drugs, there are additional notes when something particularly important needs to be highlighted. This format continues in a user-friendly A-Z fashion for about 160 pages.
Following this, you'll find a valuable chapter explaining the rationale behind selecting specific drugs. It covers a range of topics, from antibiotics to antidepressants. While it might not replace your local policy entirely, it can certainly save you time, and you'll find information here that you won't locate in the BNF. Plus, unlike our hefty local Therapeutics manual, this book won't require a backpack to carry around.
There are a few more sections to explore. The next one delves into areas often considered challenging to prescribe, such as insulin, anticoagulants, and thrombolytics. All the advice here is evidence-based, and the articles are fully referenced if you want to dive into the background reading.
We're almost at the end, but not quite. There's a fittingly named Miscellaneous chapter covering everything from common side effects to the use of intravenous fluids. Tucked away in this chapter is a discussion on the crucial CYP450 system, providing easily accessible pharmacology information that would typically require a textbook. It's a handy resource for those quiet moments when you have a bit of revision to squeeze in.
But perhaps the best part is the final chapter - medical emergencies. It's focused on immediate recognition and management. Ideally, you wouldn't want someone consulting this book in a high-pressure emergency situation, but it happens. Personally, I'm aiming to commit this chapter to memory before I graduate - we'll see how that goes. Just in case, the front and back inside covers fold out to reveal Advanced Life Support (ALS) algorithms and the NICE guidelines for transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke.
My only real gripe with this book is the excessive use of abbreviations. I understand the need to keep the text small (and they've succeeded - it's tiny!), but some of the abbreviations can be a bit confusing. Nonetheless, it's a fantastic book, though perhaps more suited for junior doctors than students. However, if you know anyone preparing for finals, this could make an excellent Christmas present.
Apologies for the Silence
I must begin with an apology, as it's been an awfully long time since my last post. Many of you have pointed this out, and I appreciate your patience. So, what's been going on in my world?
I've recently completed my neonatal medicine rotation and have now fully transitioned into the realm of old-age psychiatry. I should emphasize that I have no aspirations of becoming a future psychiatrist, so you might imagine this could be a bit of a nightmare for me. However, it's not quite as bad as I feared. In comparison to my last rotation, I find myself with considerably more free time (mainly spent catching up on sleep). However, there is one adjustment I'm still getting used to - I have to write up approximately one case per week. Most of my peers have been doing this for several rotations already. I have no clue what will happen when someone actually sits down to read these!
Working on an old-age ward has led me to ponder the cognitive abilities of my own family members. I'm even considering giving them a cognitive assessment as a Christmas present. Is that too cheeky?
First aid has once again become a significant part of my free time. It's not quite as intense as it used to be, but for some inexplicable reason, I seem to enjoy it. Perhaps I'm just a bit peculiar, but that's okay. "Glasgow on Ice" is back, and I'm dedicating a few evenings to it. Hopefully, the incessant rain will finally relent, and we'll get some proper winter weather.
I should take this moment to acknowledge the British Red Cross's efforts in response to the Cumbria flooding. A substantial amount of rescue equipment and teams have been dispatched from Northern Scotland to assist. Sadly, mainstream media hasn't given them the recognition they deserve. The same applies to the International Rescue Corps, another voluntary agency that responds to significant disasters both in and outside the UK. I hadn't even heard of them until my major incidents module, and I was genuinely surprised by the extent of their capabilities. Given the origin of their name, I found them quite intriguing. If you're unfamiliar with them, I encourage you to explore what they do.
I don't intend to make this all about charity, but it's undeniably impressive that there are people out there who respond to such incidents without seeking recognition.
On a more local note, I've recently been involved in the admissions committee for applicants in 2010. I won't delve into too much detail here since it's an ongoing process, but I'll likely spend some time discussing the UKCAT in the near future. Interviews began today (I believe), so I'd like to extend my best wishes to those who have them!
In a somewhat different vein, I must admit to being a devoted X Factor follower. Personally, I'm a fan of Joe or Stacy, primarily because they can sing. I adored Lucie, and it was heartbreaking to see her go. The final is rapidly approaching, which also means Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas shopping, you ask? I haven't even started! Fortunately, tomorrow is payday, so I should probably start giving it some serious thought.
That's a fair bit of catching up. I'll make an effort to post shorter updates more frequently in the future, though I must confess that despite my intentions, it may not happen as regularly as I'd like.
Keeping Busy... Really Busy
Despite having completed only a fraction of my final teaching blocks before I (hopefully) graduate, my exposure to medicine has been rather limited thus far. However, the beginning of this week has marked a significant change. Yesterday, I endured one of my longest days since my intense exam revision period, and it went something like this:
- 8:00 am: Leave my flat
- 9:00 am to 12:00 pm: Engage in interprofessional activities with pharmacists (surprisingly better than expected; I reckon I lucked out with my group)
- 12:00 pm: Lunch break, followed by a stroll back to the west end
- 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm: Radiology lectures (not exactly my favorite part of the day)
- 5:05 pm: Quick chocolate bar pit stop
- 5:00 pm to who-knows-when: Attend a lecture on major incident management and participate in a debriefing session about a recent exercise
- 6:00 pm: Red Cross meeting
- 6:45 pm: The time I eventually left the other meeting to make it to the Red Cross gathering
- 7:50 pm: The time I finally departed from the Red Cross meeting
- 8:15 pm: Finally, back home
That's quite a packed schedule for someone who has only been showing up for a couple of hours a week over the past month. Oddly enough, I seem to thrive on busy days, and I strangely hope that my schedule remains this hectic for a while, starting tomorrow.
I'm holding high expectations for my next teaching block, which focuses on neonates. I'm determined to complete an audit during this rotation since it's a common post-qualification task, and I haven't tackled one yet. I'm also hopeful that I'll have the chance to experience some neonatal transport work in the West of Scotland, but that remains to be seen.
Outside of university, I've been preoccupied with several other activities:
1. I've been trying to release an update for my IPB mod.
2. I've continued my involvement in first aid for the Red Cross.
3. I've been attempting to produce a sophisticated booklet for an upcoming conference.
4. I've been sorting out the details for my elective.
5. I've been hitting the gym as often as my schedule allows (I've become quite fond of the 8-9 am slot!).
6. To balance out my gym time, I've embraced my inner baker and even brought a batch of cookies to work last weekend.
All these commitments have left me with little time for this blog (I apologize!). I'll do my best to keep it going, but my plate is undeniably full at the moment.