By: 7 May 2014

Ollie CohenMy name is Oliver Cohen and I’m a 20 year old second year medical student at the University of Sheffield. I’ve been asked to write what will hopefully become a regular column to provide some insight as to what being a medical student is currently like.

I’m sure that the majority of people that are reading this either attended medical school themselves or are in a position where they know exactly what all doctors have to go through in order to get their qualifications. However, like all aspects of medicine, education is constantly changing and so here I am to let you know what is going on in a medical student’s world!

For now, my lectures have finished and I have completed my second year at university. Our exams are looming and I am busy revising as these exams will cover both of my first two years at university, which are the pre-clinical years in Sheffield. Next year we enter our clinical teaching and will all get our first taste of what it is like to work in hospitals – something I cannot wait for.

This year was spent mostly in lecture theaters, learning about kidneys, the brain, the musculoskeletal system and the endocrine system, among other things. However, the last six weeks of the year – leading into the exam period – were spent on a research project that the medical school assigned to us.

Projects came from all areas of medicine, research on all of the body’s systems was available as well as public health projects and ones based on teaching methods. After choosing five topics that I was interested in, I was given the task of compiling online video resources for the teaching of randomised control trials. This required a lot of self-discipline to ensure that I worked to my deadlines without seeing my supervisor every day and having him check on me.

This skill is something I believe all students have to develop and is the biggest difference between A-levels and university degrees. At college teachers spoon-feed information and there are constant progress checks and mock exams so you know where you stand and what you need to develop. University, on the other hand, requires you to manage your own workload and undertake a lot of reading around the lectures and their content at home.
Although this isn’t the easiest task at first it is something that is necessary for life and is a skill best learnt early. Hopefully I have been disciplined enough and have been managing my workload effectively enough to progress into my third year of medical school and will be able to share my first experiences of working in a hospital with you all through this column.