It has been too long since my last post but I will finish off what I started – the 5th-year talk, to be more specific. As you might suspect, it is impossible to recall all the intricate details regarding the hospital rotations I had between February and June. Nonetheless, I will do my best to summarise my personal experience with each of the subjects.
Pneumonology – 2 ECTS (1 week)
A good course overall. Even though I am not a fan of this field in particular the teachers made an impression on me. Respectful, down to earth, engaged and passionate about their subject. We joined for the morning rounds and got to see the different procedures in the department. In my opinion, bronchoscopy is the winner of the most horrible procedure in medicine award. Watching someone going through it made the hairs in the back of my neck stand up. Let’s just say that I cannot be indifferent to choking, gagging, coughing, retching and gasping sounds. The final test is composed of 30 MCQ’s and more than enough time to complete it.
Gynaecology and Obstetrics – 5 ECTS (3 weeks)
The psychological component of time was certainly against me for these 3 weeks. They felt more like 3 months. This year’s twist? A flipped classroom. At the beginning of the first week, each student was given a topic to present to the rest of the seminar group. Therefore, the second week was all about peer teaching. Due to COVID-19, the practical classes were not optimal in regards to patient contact. The few times my clinical group was allowed into the clinic chaos was running the show. However, we had the chance to interview a few patients suffering from ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, the disease is often detected late due to diffuse and non-specific symptoms. Obstetrics was the hidden gem that I needed. A balsam to my wounds. My teacher was great and provided us with all the tools to excel in the exam. You should expect 50 MCQ’s in the exam. 50-60 minutes in total.
Haematology 2 ECTS (1 week)
Great course. Younger teachers make for a different vibe during classes. I recommend you to prepare decently the weekend before you start the course for two reasons. Firstly, you will get a lot more out of the class time if you have a basic understanding of how blood works. Haematology gets difficult quickly after you start digging into pathology. Going to class without reading a word of it in advance is the same as watching a movie in a foreign language without subtitles. Trust me in that. Secondly, one particular teacher has greater influence over the exam’s level of difficulty. Listen carefully, show interest and answer a couple of questions correctly during the practical classes. Your final test will probably taste sweeter if you make a good impression on him. Otherwise, keep in mind that you are playing with fire. 25 MCQ’s and 25-30 minutes.
Radiology 2 – 2 ECTS (1 week)
Radiology is one of those subjects that you either love or despise. If you belong to those who love it, calm your tits. Nothing is better than getting a boring teacher to kill the thrill. You are warned. Classes were conducted 100% online this year. All the more reason to love the subject. 50 MCQ’s in the final exam. They seem to like the number 50 in 5th-year.
Oncology 2 ECTS (2 weeks)
I looked forward to this rotation. Cancer is a fascinating topic. However, the practical aspect of oncology focuses mainly on treatment. Diagnostics are done by pathologists and/or radiologists. Thus, if cancer treatment excites you, bingo. You have come to the right place. Innovation is key to the development of the field so the technology geeks will not be bored. Treatment options increase every year. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, new surgery techniques, etc. In summary, you will study the different types of cancer in detail and the best treatment modality currently available for each of those types. We were shown the different units in the hospital and talked to some patients. The breast unit made an impression on most of us. The medical team working there is amazing. Positive vibes despite the difficult circumstances. The final exam consisted of 90 MCQ’s and we were given 75 minutes to complete it. Needless to say that with so little time you better know the material quite well.
Rheumatology – 2 ECTS (1 week)
This course will conquer the heart of those who have a crush on autoimmune diseases. A common factor to all these diseases is an unknown aetiology. The practical classes are pretty similar to internal medicine. However, the cases might be too complicated for us to grasp the clinical picture as a whole. Therefore, theoretical knowledge alone will not explain many of the things you will see. The reality of medicine can be quite different from what we read in the books. So many different antibodies we can test for whenever we suspect rheumatological disease. It’s madness! The final test has 20 MCQ’s and you are given a total of 20 minutes to finish it.
Medical Law – 1 ECTS (1 lecture every once in a while)
Why do we have such a course? Because we do! Do not ask difficult questions. Thankfully, lectures were online and I could do the dishes, shower or do laundry while listening to it. For your own sake, I hope the lectures remain 100% online. Just so you can keep with the house chores like I did. Warning. Lectures are mandatory and presence will be checked. The final test is doable with minimal preparation.
Allergology – 2 ECTS (1 week)
Good teachers make for an overall good experience with this course. Unfortunately, the topic does not interest me much so I just cruised through the week with one goal in mind – to complete it. You will be diving into all the different types of allergies and treatment modalities, respectively. One conversation in particular during class was insightful. According to the teacher, medical school was nothing more than learning a new language. After 6 years we should be able to understand the medical jargon. That’s about it. Practising medicine is an entirely different challenge that can only be faced by taking patients under your wing. In hindsight, I have come to learn that she was completely right. The final test is oral at the end of the week with your assigned teacher.
Otolaryngology – 3 ECTS (2 week)
This subject covers a vast range of materials. Luckily, there is a systematic approach to it and you will focus on an organ at a time. Nevertheless, it will feel a bit overwhelming once the final exam knocks on your door. Practical classes are interesting. You will be allowed to check a few cavities on your colleagues (mouth, ears, nose and throat) while using cool tools. It can get a little intimate at times so choose your victim wisely. It is a good speciality for those who want a combination of surgical procedures and outpatient clinic. I hope you have as much fun as I had during the course. The final exam consists of 50 MCQ’s and a total of 50-60 minutes.
Palliative Medicine – 2 ECTS (1 week)
Another good surprise. Quite different from what we are used to dealing with in the clinic. A lot of difficult and perhaps personal questions will be asked. It is a good time to reflect on how you would like to spend your last days on earth. Some classes are conducted by psychologists. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to visit the hospice due to COVID-19 restrictions. 100% online classes. A nice course. Not stressful at all. 20 MCQ in the final test.
Clinical Transplantology – 1 ECTS (1 week)
Transplantation is one of those fields that blows my mind. There are so many aspects to it that during class you can easily sway your teacher into talking about what intrigues you the most. I certainly exploited that opportunity and asked all about the transplantation process in Polan. Questions regarding donors, recipients, ethical dilemmas, waiting lists, transplantation criteria and how people are prioritised. The best part of the course is the emphasis on learning. Cheers to that. The final test is nothing to worry about.
Toxicology and Emergency States in Medicine – 2 ECTS (1 week)
Fun course. Acute stuff that requires sharp thinking and quick decisions. If you are into emergency medicine you will enjoy this course. The teachers are pretty hands-on so they will show you as many cases as they can during the practical classes. It was my last course of the year so I wrapped up my 10th semester with a good feeling. 20 MCQ in the final test and a total of 20-25 minutes.
The summer internship is divided into two rotations. 60h in the intensive care unit and 60h in gynaecology and obstetrics.
5th-year was marked by countless hours in front of the computer screen daily. Attending mandatory lectures and seminars via Zoom was a blessing. However, the clinical hours were reduced and the extracurricular activities were non-existent. Some scientific circles transitioned to online zoom meetings but I decided to spare myself those extra screen hours. Instead, I implemented a self-care routine with regular workouts, good food and relaxation time.
The stress levels are generally low in 5th-year but there are periods of intense work as you might have up to 3 exams in one week. In other words, save your energy whenever possible for those occasional periods of intensive reading. Study the schedule you are given at the beginning of the academic year and plan. The course load in 5th-year is greater than in 4th-year, meaning less free time. The upside is that you get to rotate in a lot of different departments and get a better idea of what interests you the most.
Besides, the finish line becomes suddenly visible on the horizon. Getting your diploma is no longer an intangible achievement. You see those before you approaching graduation with fierce motivation evaporating from their skin, nostalgia in their eyes and hope of a prosperous future in their hearts. And you are in the next cookie batch. Coated in sugar and butter, ready to golden in the oven tray. The thought of a warm oven just made me realise that… Graduation is one pregnancy away (9 months)!