Welcome to the Medic Life

One term down, seventeen to go.

Something I was often told during Freshers’ Week (or Freshers’ Fortnight for the medics) was that my six years at Imperial will fly by. I saw no truth whatsoever to that statement at the time.

However, now that the winter holidays are finally upon us and January exams are alarmingly close- where exactly has first term gone? Honestly- what happened? The wrath of medical school interviews have begun for brave souls across the country, and it’s odd to think that it’s been a year since I was in that position!

After much procrastination and a degree of reflection, I finally pull myself together enough to write up my very first blog about my past 11 weeks at Imperial before it all becomes a blur to me.

To start the year off with a bang, the med student union planned about a thousand (2 weeks worth of) events for the freshers. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities on offer rather than just generic club events offered at most unis. To future Imperial medics- do attend the Reynolds Show, so worth it! 

Admittedly, I did not make it past the first 5-6 events before Freshers Flu hit me- and it hit me bad. It was a good week or so of synchronised coughing from all the dying Freshers during lectures- which was pretty amusing. Maybe not for the lecturers.

So many lectures. *cries* Thank goodness for Panopto- pretty much all our lectures are uploaded onto there and it’s an absolute life-saver. The work load in term one hasn’t been massive, but I would definitely not say I’m quite up to speed just yet. It’s going to be a long, painful Christmas.

Something I quickly realised was to learn to love acronyms because you’ll be bombarded with them. Here are some Imperial specific ones which got me through first term-

  • ICSM: Imperial College School of Medicine
    Freshers’ Fortnight was low-key spent chanting this acronym wherever we went and whenever we felt the time was right. Imperial pride, yes!
  • SAF/SAFB: Sir Alexander Fleming Building
    Located in the South Kensington campus- where the first years go for lectures, tutorials, labs and PBL sessions. Oh, and Horizons too.
  • CXRB: Charing Cross Reynolds Building
    Situated in Charing Cross hospital- which isn’t even in CX, but close to Hammersmith. (I’m not sure why either) Site of lectures as well as FCA sessions and anatomy starting second term (YAY!). Plus home to the Imperial medics’ infamous Reynolds Bar.
  • MCD: Molecules, Cells and Diseases
    This module is the absolute bane of my existence. Although I see the relevance and importance of it, there’s just so much content and detail. Don’t get me wrong, some people on my course enjoy it but I thought I’d be done with the Krebs cycle after A-levels.
  • FCP/FOCP: Foundations of Clinical Practice
    Another module- more clinical than MCD. As its name suggests, this gets us started with the more social side to healthcare.
    – 
    FCA: First Clinical Attachment
    My favourite part of the course by far- you get given a partner and the two of you are assigned to a patient whom you will have the opportunity to visit.
    – EIP: Epidemiology in Practice
    Where are certain diseases more prevalent? Why? What have the trends been for this illness? What do we predict? All that jazz. 
  • ICA: In Course Assessment(s)
    Yay. Lab write ups. Referencing. Critical appraisals of scientific journals. Reflecting on patient visits. Etc.

No joke- this is the reaction of non-medics, like my roommate, when they hear us talking about anything course related because we sprinkle our acronyms everywhere.

My roommate studies Maths (scary, I know) and it’s interesting how her week compares to mine. Her timetable practically never changes week-to-week. Whereas my Fridays always tend to be the busiest with labs and tutorials on top of lectures; but apart from that, we’re always in for a surprise! I find the change really refreshing to be honest! It’s easy to access our timetables- which can be downloaded right onto our phone calendars, so that’s never really an issue.

To keep me sane- it hasn’t all just been medicine for me this term. Some other things I’ve thrown myself into include:

  1. ICSM Drama (love of my life- also inspired me to use GIFs)
  2. Teddy Bear Hospital (Bless kids- they are the absolute cutest.)
  3. Paediatrics/ Play team (Playing with kids some more- yes!)
  4. President’s Ambassador Scheme (Campus tours for days)
  5. Horizons (Hallo, ich heiße Alexandra und ich lerne Deutsch im Moment.)
  6. Curly fries at the Union (Yaass. Get in my tummy!)

Sending love and festive wishes for the holiday season!
Alex (:

6 comments for “Welcome to the Medic Life

  1. Maddie says:

    Hi! I love your blog, -and was wondering what your main reasons for choosing medicine are, and also how you know if it’s (still) right for you?
    Thanks!

    1. Alexandra Ip Dos Santos says:

      Hi Maddie!
      Awh, thank you so much! Well, (human) biology was a definite favourite- it was homeostasis that made me realise that. The thought of how so many functions occur in your body on a daily basis to keep you alive, yet we never stop to think about it. I believe for me it was a matter of knowing that despite loving science, I could never do a pure science course/career because I love people/humanities too much. I found that medicine was a perfect balance 🙂 Also, I feel like medicine is such a rewarding career- work experience was a great way to see it play out in person as well as to appreciate the challenges that come with it (apart from a 5-6 year degree *cries*).
      In terms of knowing if it’s (still) right for you, I guess it boils down to whether you’re passionate enough about the career because if you are then no matter how difficult it gets- you’ll pull through because you know that changing people’s lives for the better is what you want to do.
      Hope this helped! 😀

  2. Nish says:

    Hi, great blog! what proportion of your year are gap year students?

    1. Alexandra says:

      Hi Nish!
      I can’t say for sure but what you can do is sending an e-mail to foi@ic.ac.uk – as under the Freedom of Information Act, this is info that can be made available! https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/legal-services-office/freedom-of-information/
      x Alex 🙂

  3. Inti says:

    What was your time table like during first year and would you say you had much time left to socialise? Also, in terms of accommodation which one would you say is the most fun to live in? And what happens in tutorials?

    1. Alexandra says:

      Hi there!
      I’d say there was always 2 really packed 9-5 days each week. Wednesdays is ALWAYS half day- usually finishing by 12PM (I think 1PM latest, but that is rare for medicine).

      On lecture-heavy days, there’ll be up to 4 lectures usually: 2 in the morning, followed by lunch and 2 in the afternoon. Year 1 is PBL and lab-heavy compared to all other years of med school as well, so they schedule some of that in.

      So an example of a busier week I had might have been something like:
      Monday: 9am-4pm 3 lectures + tutorial
      Tuesday: PBL session (~2hours)
      Wednesday: 1 or 2 morning lectures
      Thursday: Clinical communications/society and health session (~2/3 hours)
      Friday: 9am-5pm 4 lectures + labs

      I definitely had more than adequate amount of time to do societies/socialise in first year! I feel like if you find yourself not having enough time, it’s a good sign you may be overworking yourself! :p

      It’s hard to say for accommodation as I’ve pretty much lived in one of the halls for a year and can’t reaaallyy compare.

      From people I’ve spoken to- best experiences were in Woodward (YASS), Southside/Eastside, Beit and Wilson House.

      So to break it down for you- Woodward is definitely more far away but AMAZING. Lower prices, ensuite rooms, gorgeous kitchens + amenities, own gym, coffee shops/subway/dominos/supermarkets(including a massive one) pretty much at your doorstep.

      Southside/Eastside- nice ensuite rooms, right by Ethos, beautiful location by Hyde park, convenience store at door step but more expensive than the other halls and you’re kinda stuck in South Ken. Not that much immediately near you except museums + Imperial.. yay

      Beit- Similar to ^ but cheaper, can get quite noisy as by union bar. If you’re lucky, your room will face Royal Albert Hall and you can see movie premieres!

      Wilson House- Nice area (Paddington) in terms of food and amenities, good ~25 min walk through Hyde Park to get to Imperial. Pricing is really decent and I believe the rooms have fridges (yay?). However, you need to be okay with sharing a massive kitchen with an abnormally high number of people and likely a bathroom amongst.. maybe 4?

      Tutorials- we are usually provided with case studies related to whatever topic we’re doing. Questions accompany the case studies and we sort of chat through them and answer them together. Mix of that and like teaching from the tutor either to clarify concepts or explain things in for detail. They’re pretty chill- they tend to be in big enough groups so that you can get away with not answering any questions if you have absolutely no clue what’s going on. (LOL ME ALL THE TIME)

      Sorry this was an incredibly long response! Hope the detail helped but do let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to further expand on or any other questions!

      Alex :]

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.