Eva Havelka

Year 1 in 2016

Starting medical school was like entering a completely new world. From week one onwards, I stepped into the role of a medic and was expected to be a part of the health care “team”. Let me take you through what became part of my weekly routine.

The teaching at Keele comprises both lectures and Problem-based Learning (PBL). Each PBL group includes around eleven students who meet twice a week. On Mondays we are presented with a patient case which we discuss and use to identify important areas to learn. On Fridays, we work through the answers to the questions we had set ourselves. For me, PBL kept me motivated to stay on top of my work, and being challenged by my peers helped me identify the gaps in my knowledge. It also allowed me to collaborate in a team of people who all think and work differently. This was at times frustrating, but definitely rewarding in teaching me skills necessary for the reality of working in a hospital setting.

Luckily for us, Keele is one of the few medical schools in the UK that teaches anatomy using full-body dissections. Each PBL group was assigned a cadaver and a demonstrator who guided us through that week’s area. This gave us a realistic picture of the human body. However, it was our responsibility to read up on the relevant anatomy either before or after the session.

To my surprise, we were allocated clinical placements as early as the first semester. I attended GP surgeries and hospital wards where I was able to practise my interviewing skills. It was invaluable to see how a condition can affect someone’s life as opposed to just reading about it in a book.

Having feared a competitive environment, I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of my colleagues to help me out when I needed them. There is a really friendly atmosphere between students (maybe because there are only 130 of us per year) as well as with the lecturers, who I always felt comfortable coming forth to with queries. Of course things don’t always go smoothly, but with the support of the university staff and fellow medics, the battle to second year is definitely a survivable one.