Saturday, 29 November 2008

Lost - Reward For Return: The Last 4 Months

It has been over a month since my last blog, and after I promised an update within the week. For those of you that are still around I thought I'd pop by and say hello. The last 4 months have flown by, my first job is over and it is sad times indeed. It doesn't seem like 2 minutes since I set foot on the ward for the first time with no clue as to what I was doing. 4 months later and I was just getting settled and its time to move on. I've really enjoyed my first job, it has been interesting and a fairly gentle introduction but most of all, the team on the ward were fantastic.  Everyone was lovely and it was a really friendly atmosphere, I think that is what I'm going to miss the most. I never expected to become attached to the job like I did. 

Perhaps what makes it worse is that I'm going from probably one of the best jobs to probably the worst! Frankly, I'm shitting bricks and I'm talking breeze blocks here! On Friday evening as I sat talking to the outgoing F1 of my new job my worst fears became a reality. Whenever anybody has asked me what I'm doing next and I've answered, it has been swiftly followed by a sympathetic sharp intake of breath. I'd spent the last few weeks in denial thinking it was a long time before I'd have to worry about that but now I'm 24 hours away from hell. From what I hear, the job is a bitch, the people hostile and the atmosphere terrifying. I've seen many of my colleagues stressed, upset and crying (mostly the outgoing two who's job becomes mine on Monday).

I'm hoping things will be different, and I intend to be optimistic, at least till 5pm on Monday (although it'll probably be more like 11pm). On the plus side it might give me a bit more blogging material. Most of the other surgical F1s seem to spend most of their time chilling out in the mess, I've never, ever seen my 2 predecessors in the mess. I've spent the last 4 months enjoying myself and feeling sorry for those having an awful time but now I suspect it's my turn. 

Oh, and in other big news, I think I might be a closet medic rather than a surgeon!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Cookie Adventure

Check out my cookie adventure here

Time Flies When You're ..... Busy

It has been 2 weeks since my last blog and now I begin to realise that a fair proportion of my time is being consumed by work. I can barely imagine how things must have been only a few years ago with 100+ hour weeks. This week though I am on holiday! By holiday I mean staying at home rather than going to work, this means I actually get some time to do things I would have normally done during the day as a student. It also gives me time to catch up with several thousand blog posts in my google reader, I've just spent the last couple of hours skim reading far too many blog posts! I'm now as up to date as I'll ever be. Now I've caught up the prospect of reading blogs again isn't quite as scary.

I've already been bleeped several times since being on holiday - I've not answered of course (I did that once as I was expecting a call and have been chastised ever since) but there is a sense of curiosity - who is it and what do they want? 

Today I decided to bake double chocolate chip cookies (they are bloody good too). For no other reason than because I could. Perhaps working life is sending me slightly insane. I'm still enjoying being a doctor, although at times my job can be a bit stale (mainly due to the nature of my post). Nevertheless, during the day, time passes quickly and inevitably there isn't enough time in the day to do everything. When on ward cover - time either flies, when you're busy, or trickles by if you're sat in the mess. I definitely prefer being busy. 

I have little else to say at the moment, although I do have plenty of potential blogging topics on the cards. I'm going to try a little and often approach to blogging to see if I can get back into the zone. I'll be back before the end of the week... I promise.

Oh, and finally, I bought myself an iPhone 3G - it rocks my socks!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Working Nine to Five - or not even close.

Ok, so I promised to blog the weekend before last and didn't. The main reason for this is that we now have 4 dead laptops in our house (don't ask what we do to them - I've no idea). Anyway, we've just got a desktop courtesy of missbliss's parents (thank you :))  Of course there is also the other matter of being quite busy. This whole working thing is rather annoying, most of the time I'm only supposed to work 8 hour days, at least that's what the hospital would like to think (naturally we are EWTD compliant). This makes life difficult enough, especially when you consider I've not done an 8hr day yet! When the bloody hell are you supposed to go to the bank when you have a job? When are you supposed to go and spend your hard earned cash? I barely have enough time to wee during the day let alone leave the hospital! I don't mind being busy as it makes the time go quickly but I could do with a 4 day week just so that I can do everything I need to do outside of work. 24hr Manchester had its advantages in that respect. This makes time for blogging a little short - but now we have a computer which hopefully will work for more than 2 days, it should be easier!

I've just finished what should have been 12 days straight, actually I had friday off so it was infact only 11 days. My day off wasn't much of a holiday though, apart from a yuppie-esque lunch in town with missbliss who was working, I spent all day catching up on real-life admin - bore. It was my first weekend 'on call' (basically ward cover for about 200-300 patients) last weekend and it was genuinely the most stressful weekend of my entire life. Not in a oh my god I can't do this way but in a holy shit what the hell is going on way. The fact I had some really great senior staff probably prevented me from the complete emotional collapse that some of my colleagues have had. I can safely say that it isn't fun when someone is effectively bleeding half of their circulating volume out through their rectum right in front of you. Overall, apart from the fact it was a weekend, I quite enjoyed myself - although I'm not rushing to do another one! The responsibility is bloody scary but at the same time quite exhilarating, the chance to see and do some acute medicine is refreshing compared to my usually quite stable ward patients. 

Inevitably, with independence and lack of experience come mistakes - I don't know whether or not I've made any yet, particularly as I rarely see again the patients I see when on ward cover. The hardest thing about being on cover is prioritising things, that is the key. In fact, the same can be said for the whole of medicine. When your bleep is going off every 5 minutes, not only do you have to be organised but you also have to have a way of triaging things in your head. Some jobs can be done in minutes but complex and ill patients can take hours. Am I supposed to run off and answer my bleep every time I'm in the middle of something? It might be polite, but it is completely impractical. For me this was one of the hardest things to get used to, although sometimes I regret answering - for example when switchboard have for some reason given my bleep to a very persistent job-seeking cleaner, seriously, like I don't have more important things to worry about!

P.S - when sorting through our music on our shiny (old) desktop I discovered missbliss has no fewer than 9 copies of Dolly Parton's, Working 9 to 5. 

Friday, 19 September 2008

I hate to say I told you so...

I know I promised that I wouldn't moan or mention Manchester again but I couldn't resist.

As I said in this post I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this years National Student Survey results on the unistats website, particularly the student satisfaction aspect.

Manchester - 30th out of 32 medical schools who provided enough data.

Ouch - that has to hurt. At least now you don't just have to take my word for it. And when I advise potential students to avoid Manchester like the plague - I can provide a bit more evidence than just my experience.

More hospital tales this weekend.....

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The first month!

Ok ladies and gentlemen, it has been over a month since I started life as a real life doctor. We're now completely settled in our new flat and have the Internet up and running. I'm clearly out of practice when it comes to blogging and my Google reader says I have 857 unread items, at some point I want to catch up with at least some of them.

The first month has, as you might expect, been rather eventful. From writing my first prescription to my first on call, dealing with my first death (not my fault, I should add) to my first pay day, and PLENTY of hospital politics in between.

The first week was rather terrifying, and it wasn't made any easier by my consultant being on holiday for the first two weeks. Thank god for the rest of the team! - WRONG! Half of my registrar (yes half - there are two of them who job share) is on long term sick and the other half also just happened to be on holiday during my first week. And the SHO - well, somewhere along the line they seem to have forgotten about them entirely and replaced them with me!!! For those of you who don't know much about hospitals let me simplify things a little - I was left entirely on my own! Had I not done a few days shadowing prior to starting my role being left on my own would have been a rather catastrophic event. In reality it wasn't that bad at all (not from my point of view anyway - the patients might tell a different story).

I coped by stumbling around the ward attempting to do my own ward rounds - having no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I don't think I killed anyone which is pretty remarkable considering. The other doctors, and nurses were great in helping me out as much as possible. I got very excited during my first day when I prescribed some antibiotic eardrops based on my own diagnosis (although I had to ask the pharmacist which ones to give) - so its not exactly a life saving decision but it was one of the first decisions I made all by myself and with nobody senior to monitor it!

There are so many stories to tell from those first few days but now they seem like a distant memory. The first month has certainly gone faster than I ever imagined it would, and of course with that came the first pay day - all I've got to say about that is that I'm now entitled to moan about being a tax payer - there are FAR too many deductions! Payday was very, very welcome indeed. It is well said that the worst time to be a patient in hospital is the first week in August when all the newbies start - whilst you would probably want to avoid that period I can now say with some certainty that the worst day ever to be ill in hospital is the day after the first pay-day for all the newly qualified doctors! Remember that at the end of August next year and avoid being admitted to hospital at all costs!

Following my first week, the staffing levels improved but only marginally - I had help from another team's SHO, and half of my registrar made it in for 2 days. When my consultant got back it was a huge relief although then came a huge exodus of all the patients I'd been looking after - who by now had been ready for discharge for about a week - I certainly wasn't going to send anyone home myself! Normally people leaving hospital is a good thing right? Well not for me, because every time someone leaves, another patient who is invariably sicker and more complicated takes their place!

My first month has had more than its fair share of 'office' politics, there has already been a resignation on my ward. I gained 6 extra patients to add to the 20-odd I was already looking after and the half of my registrar who wasn't off had a heart attack and is only in hospital as a patient! All in all - it's chaos. A nightmare for the nurses, dangerous for the patients and bewildering for me. Nevertheless, I'm actually really enjoying being a doctor. I don't feel I'm any good at it yet - hopefully that feeling comes with experience but it is certainly interesting, quite good fun and most of all (after five years just racking up debt)- PAID!

That's all for now folks but stay tuned for more stories now I'm hopefully up and blogging again.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


Due to fuckwittery on the part of BT, we're still without even a phone line, never mind broadband. Someone made a booboo which meant that we had to re-order, expecting phone line on wednesday and internets sometime shortly after that (fingers crossed). Apologies for the absence.

In the mean time, I'm doing ok. I now have a bit of senior support too which means I'm not running an entire ward on my own. More on that when we get connected.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Very Quick Update

The lack of internets makes blogging rather difficult, especially when hospital computers seem to block everything that is remotely fun. We have at last moved into our flat and hope to be internetified in about a week. Until then, I am still alive, and coping ok so far.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Not a Lot About Very Little

Not a great deal to blog about at the moment. The last week has been taken up mostly with packing. The big move is this weekend so fingers crossed everything goes well, our stuff is going into storage for 2 weeks before we move in to our new flat.

It is now less than 2 weeks until I start work, I daren't think about it too much. Shadowing begins in a week, I'm hoping there is some kind of secret initiation during this period that turns you into a fairly competent doctor as I'm struggling to remember even the basics, never mind all the complicated rubbish I learnt for finals. I guess that gives me 1 more week of freedom, 1 more week before I finally become a grown-up? Best of luck to all the other bloggers out there starting work in 2 weeks, any plans for your last weeks of freedom, or any tips for our first week?

Will hopefully keep you posted on events over the next few days.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Reflections On 5 Years

This post is so long it needs a contents page so you can skip to the relevant part if you can't be bothered with all of it.
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The first few years
Part 3 - The Preston fiasco
Part 4 - Other complaints
Part 5 - Graduation disaster
Part 6 - Disclaimer to potential students
Part 7 - Conclusion

If I'd learnt anywhere near as much about medicine as I have about life in the past 5 years I'd be a genius. Had I coasted through medical school without a single problem I'd still be as naive as I was 5 years ago. Maybe I should be grateful then that Manchester have 'taught' me so well. Ha. I am bitter about my time at medical school, but by being so I believe I'm far more prepared to be disappointed in the real world. It might not make much sense as I write about it but believe me, I'm a much harder person now, and hopefully, based on my experience will be far more able to accept the incompetencies of other institutions and organisations (*cough* NHS *cough*)

Just one worry, what will I have left to blog about?


I was 16 when I started looking at medical schools and only just 17 when I submitted my application. I was young and naive, perhaps even bordering on stupid. I based my university choices mainly on where I thought I was most likely to get in, that was my first, and probably biggest mistake. The first thing I always tell potential applicants is to apply to where they want to go, not to where they think they're most likely to be offered a place. The second thing I tell them is not to touch Manchester with a barge pole!

The first time I visited Manchester was for my interview and even though it was raining torrentially, it was the city, rather than the medical school that inspired me. Although I now harbor a passionate hatred towards the university, the city itself is move vibrant than ever and inspires me even more than it did 5 years ago. Maybe it was my expectations of what to expect from the whole university experience that were wrong to begin with. Maybe I would have been just as unhappy elsewhere, grass is always greener and all that. I've heard plenty about problems with other medical schools too so I don't expect that Manchester is unique in its inadequacy.

Had I been blogging in first year I would have had very little to write about, it went by with very little fuss. There were always rumblings of administrative incompetency from others but I was happy in my own little world. Without warning, problem based learning was thrust upon us. Fresh from spoon-fed A-Levels it was quite a shock to have to learn everything yourself. There were of course 6 or so supplementary lectures, although these were often irrelevant or cancelled, It was clear early on that PBL is little more than a synonym for DIY.

I made some great friends from all over the world in my first year and on the whole I really enjoyed myself. Despite the learning style, I even enjoyed the work, I found it interesting and was reassured I'd made the right choice of course, if not university. All that was about to change in what was a pivotal moment in my university years. I've written about this before and it may be a little bit boring so apologies if you're falling asleep already.


It was time to choose our hospitals for clinical years. I never imagined how important this would be. This process seems to vary from school to school, At Manchester, for the last 3 years, you're based at one of 5 hospitals, 3 of which are in Manchester, one being Keele (40 miles away) and the other being 40 miles in the opposite direction in a wonderful city called Preston often referred to as depreston. At the end of first year we ranked in order of preference those 5 hospitals and we were assured that the allocation process would be random and fair. If you don't know, I'm sure you can guess what happened next. I fell foul of this 'random' allocation and was allocated to Preston. The day after finding out, I handed my appeal letter in personally. Naively again, I didn't for one minute think my appeal would be unsuccessful and spent the rest of the summer safe in the knowledge that of course I wouldn't actually end in Preston, unfortunately the other 40 students allocated to Preston had exactly the same idea.

If my biggest mistake was choosing Manchester then my second biggest mistake was not having a clinical partner for this allocation process, i.e. a friend with whom you made a joint application to a hospital preference. At first I did have one but we wanted different first choices so in the end we applied alone. In my appeal letter I clearly stated that the process had been unfair. We had been told that whether or not you had a clinical partner you were equally as likely to be allocated a place at your first choice. When the allocation results were published this was clearly not the case. As sad as I am I used my basic knowledge of statistics to analyse the results and it was clearly skewed in favour of those who had clinical partners. To put this simply the algorithm used had clearly given a group of two students the same priority as a single student which is obviously unfair on the single student.

I complained and complained but to no avail. I know of at least one person who had their allocation altered on the strength of a falsified official letter. The vast majority of appeals were unsuccessful, after all, they can't just have an empty hospital. It wasn't until the end of second year that I even met another person going to Preston. Needless to say, none of the friends I'd originally made were. Fantastic. From that point onwards I decided that I was no longer there to enjoy university, I was there to endure it to gain my qualification. I met one of the senior staff (albeit not that senior, they're completely off limits) I cried, I shouted, I pleaded, I exclaimed how unfair the supposed random allocation had been why could they not see it? In the end, I was told just to deal with it. Gee thanks for all the support.

As second year went by, my disdain evolved to hate but I kept plugging away and had no troubles academically. By this stage, the glimmer of student support we'd been given in first year had disintegrated and we were left to fend for ourselves. Most of my emails and letters were now being ignored. Why I don't know, I was persistent, but had never been anything but polite in my requests.

One thing is for sure, I certainly wasn't moving to Preston. It might be 40 miles away, an hour's drive at the best of times but having fallen for the city of Manchester and expecting to be there for 5 years I wasn't about to upsticks to a city I already hated.

For reference, it was at this point, at the end of second year that I met missbliss. I decided to continue living in Manchester and commute to Preston, a few others followed suit but it was almost impossible to share lifts as everyone was doing things at different places at different times. Commuting, combined with visits to missbliss in Cambridge soon meant that I was often driving almost 1000 miles a week at a cost of about £100 per week. In January of third year I was forced to move to Preston for the rest of the year, it was every bit as bad as I thought.

You might think that by now I had accepted being in Preston and moved on and I just about had when I heard that a mistake had been made in the allocations for the next batch of students and the medical school were offering students £2000 if they would swap an allocation in Manchester for one in under subscribed Preston. In other words, they were offering £2000 to students who could be persuaded to go to Preston. WHAT THE HELL?!? Where was the £2000 for student who had to go against their will? What on Earth were the medical school thinking when they decided they could offer some students money and not others, had this happened in my year I would have taken legal action. Because it wasn't my year it just made me even more angry! It was at this point I submitted a freedom of information request so that I might see the algorithm or process used in the allocation of hospitals. They didn't even refuse because nobody ever actually got back to me, I should have reported them to the information commissioner at that stage for breaking the FOI act.

I let the subject drop again but worse was yet to come. The following year during the allocation for the new cohort of students the process had to be declared null and void. Can you guess why? It had finally been exposed as unfair, can you guess how? The process was biased against students without clinical partners, exactly as I had told them in my appeal letter 2 years previously! Now I was livid, I had always known the allocation process had been unfair, if I'd been allocated Preston by a completely fair system, I mightn't have liked it but I would have put up with it. I demanded a meeting with the dean of the medical school of course I was ignored, but this time, I'd been proved right and wasn't about to let it drop so easily. I had to make do with a meeting with someone else. I went to the meeting to ask if the allocation process that had been abandoned that year was the same one used in previous years. Unfortunately I was met with a very defensive woman who wouldn't tell me anything and if anything, wanted to intimidate me rather than explain things to me. The meeting didn't go well, I was polite but was clearly not being listened to. It was clear that the medical school wasn't about to admit that they were wrong, after all, hundreds of students had appealed against this procedure, to admit a mistake at this stage would have been a disaster. I asked if I could at least have an apology since my appeal was based on a claim the process was unfair just as it had now been exposed to be. I was told, in no uncertain terms that I could definitely NOT have an apology and, already having been deceived, ignored and lied to, was threatened that taking this topic any further could be detrimental to my place within the medical school. I was taken aback, this was a threat in all but words that if I carried on with this issue I could face being kicked out of medical school - on what grounds I'm not quite sure. At that point I realised I was fighting a losing battle and started blogging instead.

Before I draw a big black line under this topic, I need to cover a few of the potential counters to what I've said. Some of you might think I have a point, others might think I'm just a bitter individual, some might say 'it's only Preston' and most of you probably don't even care. You're all entitled to your opinion just as I am but let me explain a little about why this is such a big thing. I applied to Manchester University because I loved the city, having been sent 40 miles away to Preston there is very little chance to do anything in Manchester and you have very little access to the university facilities or support. It is my belief that you also miss out on educational opportunities by being in Preston although it is a good hospital which may make up for this in some respects. I decided to stay in Manchester, that decision cost me the best part of £5000 in fuel and £3000 in lost free accommodation in final year - despite the travelling it was worth it. You could say 'life is just unfair' - maybe you're right but at least now I'm much more prepared for it. You could say 'you're going to be a doctor, you need to be prepared to move wherever', again, I'm much more aware of this and willing to accept it but at the same time I would hope that where such a system is used to allocate jobs, it would be fair and at least in part based on input on my part, whether that be an application form or interview. Finally, I hear that in future, applicants are going to be told if they've been allocated to Preston when they apply to Manchester through UCAS. I suggested to them 3 years ago this was the only fair way of doing things. Preying on the desperate there Manchester - I'm sure there are plenty of people without offers who'd love a place at Preston.


Now we've got that beast out of the way we can go back over a few other things that have happened in the last 5 years. Honestly, I know I'm bitter about the whole Preston issue but that isn't the only reason that I despise Manchester.

Almost more important than the Preston issue is something which came to light recently. Apparently the medical school had, in the past, restricted learning opportunities at particular hospitals because they couldn't ensure that similar opportunities could be provided at other hospitals. In one example where changes to the third year curriculum were implemented (whilst we were in fifth year) so that all third years would be taught suturing, the opportunity was denied to the fifth years on the grounds that it was for third years only. We had never been taught it despite it being a potential finals station, after pressing for it we did eventually get the same opportunity. Firstly, you should be doing everything you can to maximise learning opportunities and secondly where do you get off telling people who and what they can teach? Ridiculous. I know you don't care about your students but that is a whole new level.

That leads me nicely onto another issue. It was often said that Preston missed out on some of the opportunities in Manchester but in one case students at one hospital were given access to 14 questions on one of our exam. I'm pleased to say that after much complaining this issue was rectified in that these questions were excluded from the marking but it should never have happened in the first place. It was discovered this once but who is to say how many times it has gone unnoticed in the past?

This is just one of myriad issues that people have had with the examination system. I'm sure you all remember my OSCE fiasco. I'm not going to complain about that here because that is an academic issue and I'm bound to be biased against it. What I can say, having seen OSCEs (practical exams) from both both sides (being an examinee and a volunteer) is that in their current state at Manchester (and to be fair, at most places) they are a lottery. The exam cannot be run objectively at 4 different sites at the same time and the marking is so subjective it makes the whole thing almost pointless.

Next we have student support - or lack thereof. Manchester should be ashamed of itself in terms of this. There was some limited support in the first year but after that you may as well not even exist, nobody at the university cares about you. At Preston the support was good as the hospital staff were willing to listen, but centrally support is non-existent. I'm pleased to see this is something they're trying to address, whether it will be or not remains to be seen.

I'm sure you all know what I think of PBHell. I hate it. They may as well give you a list of things to learn on day 1, send you away and bring you back 5 years later to examine you on it. Conceptually PBL isn't bad, but it doesn't work when it is relied upon to be a substantial method of learning. You can't learn all you need to know without some sort of input. There isn't a lot of evidence out there comparing graduates of PBL courses against traditional courses but this is slightly concerning given that Manchester and Liverpool were 2 of the pioneers of PBL in the UK. PBL does give you the flexibility to learn what you want when you want but I'm gravely concerned about some of the graduates this course has produced. A much better approach would be a combined course featuring comprehensive lectures and PBL.

PBL can be effective if every required element is there, unfortunately where medical students are concerned this is almost impossible. Yes I might be bitter and angry but at least I'm not a bully. I've met some really great people in the last 5 years but I've also met some particuarly mean and nasty pieces of work.


Finally I want to talk about graduation. A day where you are supposed to celebrate your achievement. As I've said before, for me it was less about the achievement and more about being free from this incompetent institution. The ceremony itself was so cringeworthy it was awful. The worst part for me was the main speech, it was given by a senior staff member who didn't introduce himself, we should probably have already known who he was but such is communication within the medical school, few people had a clue who he was. I'm still not entirely sure and I don't understand his nu-speak title anyway. I'm sure he is very good at what he usually does but he was definitely off that day. He launched straight into a completely irrelevant speech delivered with all the charisma of a dead aphid. If we're supposed to be proud of our achievement I would hope that the staff would be proud too, but the speech was delivered with such monotony that it was clear that the speaker didn't care and probably didn't want to even be there. Worse than the style of delivery was the content. The opening motif was introduced as we were told, "Although the University is rather old, it continues to benefit greatly from being new". The rest of the speech contained contrived examples of many old and new things, but we were graciously informed that we hadn't managed to deplete the knowledge stores of the university ("Is not knowledge the property of humankind?"). I could not engage with anything that he said. In another speech, the pinnacle had to be the mention of Harold Shipman (well I suppose at least he is a former graduate of Manchester) - what a fantastic way to celebrate a new generation of doctors! Perhaps I misread the atmosphere but everyone I've since spoken to felt the same about the whole thing - I didn't even notice the Shipman reference until later. At least when the names were read out by the Medical School Dean (again, I think it was him but I'm not too sure, having never seen him in the last 5 years) he delivered them with a bit of passion, as though he was proud of us all. The Dean also read well when it came to the affirmation, a modern day version of the Hippocratic Oath which we all affirmed in turn. When we finally got out, fittingly it was pissing it down and there were shouts telling us to "leave the building as quickly as possible".


As a disclaimer - to prospective students, I should say that other opinions are available. At least a couple of (maybe even 3) people are very happy at Manchester, although I'm really interested to see how they do in the national student survey - 3 guesses for what I gave them. I'm afraid I won't be recommending Manchester medical school to anyone, in fact, where possible, I will actively discourage students who might be considering it. For anyone who is already at Manchester or who, despite my advice still insists on applying, the course has changed significantly in the past 5 years, and seems to have improved a lot. I hear they even 'teach' you anatomy these days. The faculty even have a new blog and I must say that this chap looks to going in the right direction so it might not all that bad if you do end up stuck there.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. The end of a long journey, one that I'm very glad is over. I'm looking forward to a completley new chapter in my life, one with less bitterness and fewer grudges. To those of you that I like, you know who you are, the very best of luck. To those of you that don't like me, it has been a pleasure, I'm honoured to have had such an impact. Finally to Manchester Medical School, a good riddance for all.

If you read all that you deserve a pat on the back, for those of you from Manchester, I'm sorry but I've not said anything that isn't true.

edit: seems Shipman was indeed a Leeds graduate not a Manchester graduate, oh well.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I'm Free

Graduation was just as ridiculous as I expected it to be! It wasn't just me who wasn't looking forward to it, many other people didn't want to be there but to keep their families happy obviously they had to be. For me, it was just as much about celebrating the end of being tied to an incompetent institution as it was officially finishing my degree. I suppose it is a bit sad that it had to end that way but I take solace in the fact I'm wasn't alone in my feelings.

The ceremony itself was awful, but more on that in a later post. Yes folks, I'm afraid you're going to have endure just one more exceedingly bitter post from me on my time at university. Whilst you might not be interested and some of you may entirely disagree with what I have to say it is important for me in terms of closure, at least from a blog point of view. It will only be one more post, I promise. I've have learnt some medicine in the last 5 years (I hope) but I've learnt more about life and people which will probably be a lot more useful in the future.

As I told the alumni association, I want nothing more to do with you, as far as I'm concerned I'm not a University of Manchester graduate, I'm a medicine graduate.

Watch this space...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Graduation tomorrow, couldn't be less excited if I tried. Lack of posts at the moment because although i'm quite busy, most of my time is being taken up by important but spectacularly boring stuff.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Are You Proud of the NHS?

It was only relatively recently, at some point during medical school, that I learnt the NHS has only been around for 60 years. I was rather surprised, I had never particularly thought about it but if I had, I would've imagined it being around far longer than that.

In the press, rather than concentrating on the NHS's achievements to celebrate 60 years, much has been made about the future. Is the NHS still viable? Can and will the NHS survive and of course the 10 year NHS plan. I was recently asked if I was proud of the NHS, in reality this is a rather stupid question, after all, it isn't like I had anything to do with setting it up, nevertheless, some of the answers I've seen have been interesting.

I guess the main factor here is probably political affiliation, I suspect most labour voters would say they are proud, and most conservatives would say the opposite, if for no other reason than they are currently the opposition. This position is perhaps compromised if you're somehow involved in the NHS. I would hope that most healthworkers would be proud of the organisation they work for although I recognise that many have reason not to be. In this case, I would hope that they are proud of the idea of the NHS if not its current state.

Personally, as someone who is about to embark on a career in the NHS, I'm not sure where I fit in. I'm certainly proud of the foundations and ideas of the NHS and I find myself vigorously defending it to anyone who isn't. I don't know much about politics, to me, they're all as bad as each other, I don't think it makes a great deal of difference who is in charge. I don't think the Conservatives would necessarily do a better job with the NHS than Labour have, yes things might be different, but will they really be better? The conservatives will win the next election, of that I'm sure, and frankly that doesn't bother me. I have voted labour in the past but am quite willing to see what the conservatives can offer, so much so that I might even vote for them *shudder*.

So am I proud of the NHS? Yes, I am, regardless of what I think about its current state. I think many that aren't have been swayed by the media who tend to focus on the negative aspects after all its scandal that sells papers.

Are you proud?

Happy 60th!
what will you wish for?

Monday, 30 June 2008

Glastonbury 2008

*warning - uberlong post alert*

No longer a Glastonbury virgin I can certainly see what all the fuss is about - it was awesome!

Normally the mere suggestion of camping would have me running in the opposite direction as fast as I possibly could but this year, having finished medical school, I decided to brave the fields of mud, we'd always quite fancied going to Glastonbury and this year there were no exams/jobs/other responsibilities stopping us.

The journey began on Wednesday, along our way we picked up our guide, a seasoned Glastonbury go-er. Having such a guide made our first Glastonbury experience much more successful than it would have otherwise been. Getting there was a rather painless process compared to the queues I had been expecting. Our guide, who with all her experience now has the whole Glastonbury process down to a fine art, had a trolley which made carrying our stuff from the car park considerably easier than it could have been. We pitched our tent - something I'd not done since Duke of Edinburgh a long time ago and set off on a very useful tour of the site. I was surprised how huge it all was but at the same time how close things were. The view from the top of the hill was really quite amazing.

I could bore with more details but I'll concentrate on the things we saw. Musically the festival itself doesn't officially get underway until the Friday but there was plenty to see and do before that. Whether it be tea on the sofa of a chai tent, watching trapeze artists at the circus or dancing in the silent disco it seems almost impossible not to find something to do. One thing I should mention is the food, beforehand we'd been told that there was very little that you can't get to eat at Glastonbury and despite my misgivings it turned out to be true, there is a huge range of food from all over the world, and it's not too expensive either which is always a good thing.

It took a while to get used to the toilets but again, they were not as bad as I had expected. With 150,000 campers on site you can't expect perfect conditions, and the toilets are certainly not a nice experience but with some trusty advice from our guide, things were not too bad. Perhaps more upsetting from my point of view was the lack of warm showers, (although there are a couple available) I did manage to wash my hair once under a cold tap but that was all I could cope with.

When the music finally got underway choices and sacrifices had to be made, with so many different stages and hundreds of different acts there is almost too much to choose from. Things aren't helped when there are 2 or 3 people who you want to see on at the same time, unfortunately you can only be in one place at once. With the music came the mud, on Thursday night it rained but fear not, we had come prepared with ponchos and wellies. I had been obsessed with the weather forecast for days before the festival, praying that our first Glasto wouldn't be a washout like it had been in previous years. It did rain, and for 1 day it was really muddy, but I was almost pleased to have the chance to make use of my wellies and for the rest of the time the weather was great so I can't complain about that at all.

On Friday morning Kate Nash opened the festival and we made it to the front row of the Pyramid stage to see her, what can I say, I'm a Kate Nash fan, please do not judge my musical taste. She appeared a bit moody at the start but I still thought she was awesome and for me, a great start to the musical portion of the festival. Annoying moving from stage to stage gets rather difficult when 150,000 people are trying to move around the site at the same time as you, and almost always in the opposite direction it seems. Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong were next for us over on the Other stage, they were ok but it was the next band, Vampire Weekend we had really made our way over there to see. Despite sounding like some gothic metal group, their indie/afrobeat sound is rather more upbeat than their name suggests. Over on the Jazz stage, we danced in the mud to Candi Statton. For me, one of my highlights were Editors who were amazing with an energetic performance on the Pyramid stage on Friday evening. On the way to the Park stage we caught some of We Are Scientists set who I'd recently seen anyway and who were again, really good. We were surprised to find Franz Ferdinand on the Park stage, one of the evening's special guests who for some reason had been delayed, unfortunately we found ourselves towards the front surrounded by sweaty teenagers moshing their little heart out, not our cup of tea at all but when we managed to escape the mosh pit their set was pretty damn great. Dizzie Rascal followed and for me the whole atmosphere changed as the hip-hop rap led to a rather intimidating feel among the crowd. By now I was knackered and my feet, having traipsed thorough miles of mud, hurt like they never had before but I wanted to see if Pete Doherty would turn-up - he did, and he was surprisingly brilliant. He might be a bit of a wanker but he has a great voice.

On Saturday the mud had all but dried but still with achey limbs we decided to have a less mobile day and after tea, cakes and the guardian at a funky little cafe, decided to set up camp for the day at the front of the Pyramid stage. We missed Shakin' Stevens but arrived just in time to see Martha Wainwright who gave a pleasantly relaxing performance. Next was Seasick Steve, I only knew who he was having seen him on Jools Holland at New Year, but I expected big things and he didn't disappoint, for me, another highlight of the weekend. Complete with his bottle of Jack Daniels and battered 3 string guitar, he gave an awesome performance. The crowd loved him and despite being in his 70s he ran up and down the front row following his performance. Very few performers managed to get the crowd going so well. Despite their age, Crowded House also rolled back the years and despite singing about the weather for most of their set gave a decent performance. Next up, James Blunt, not musically to my taste but gave a fantastic performance. He was really energetic and got the crowd going well, I actually really enjoyed his set. Unfortunately the same can't be said for The Raconteurs, a bunch of angry raccoons would have been more personable than these heavy rockers. Their set went on for ages, I kept thinking this must be the last song, only for them to carry on over and over again. We needed something bouncy after that to keep us going having been stood at the front for about 7 hours. Most people seemed to have never heard of Manu Chao but they were just what the doctor ordered (ba-dum-tsh, get it? *hangs head in shame*), I didn't have the foggiest idea what they were singing about as it was mostly in Spanish but they were bouncy and great fun, I was knackered after their performance. After that, 75,000 people piled in behind us to fill out the field for Amy Winehouse, we were still right at the front so got rather crushed at that point. Debateably the most eagerly awaited performance of the festival and definitely the biggest crowd. There were questions whether she'd even turn up, but she did and she started so well. I hear her performance has been somewhat panned by the press after her TV performance but live she was pretty amazing. She was obviously drunk at the start, and after downing several drinks her set started to fall apart, she was wasted. She came down off the stage, and as she stumbled past us right at the front, even more crushing occurred as everyone pushed for a glimpse of her, some people pushed a little too hard and she ended up punching someone in the crowd. Her talent is unquestionable but she obviously has some serious issues, I do wonder whether or not her part of her pazazz is because she is such a train wreck, if she was normal, I don't know if she'd be quite so good. The finale on Saturday was Jay Z, the crowd thinned out slightly but the crushing at the front was even worse several people had to be pulled out of the front by security (although security were fucking useless), we managed to hang on despite being pushed and pushed from all directions. I'm not a Jay Z fan but I was excited to see what he would have to offer after all the controversy and rumours before the festival. He started off with a cover of Wonderwall by Oasis in a dig back at Noel Gallagher who had disagreed with hip-hop headlining Glastonbury and I must say, I thought Jay Z started brilliantly, after that, it all got a little too boring and despite a few covers of more main stream material the anticipated collaborations never materialised, no Beyonce, no Chris Martin, just him. After a great start the rest of his set was uninspiring drivel. I read a quotation from Noel Gallagher in response to Jay Z's performance, having heard that he'd covered Wonderwall Noel said something like "At least the first 5 minutes must have been alright then..." As arrogant as that sounds, I'm afraid I agree.
Sunday was a more laid back affair, in the morning we sat with breakfast (mainly consisting of an ice cream for me) to watch the Redbridge Brass Band. we packed our things up and took them back to the car so we wouldn't have to do it later and spent a few hours relaxing and among other things wandering around the circus fields which were full of bizarre and funky acts. In the early evening we made it over to the Pyramid stage just in time for Neil Diamond which wasn't exactly my cup of tea but was quite good for a sing-a-long. Next was Goldfrapp who musically was fantastic, tired of being near the front we chilled out at the back of the field dancing away to the electrofunk. I was disappointed that the crowd didn't really embrace Goldfrapp as much as they could have but we did and she was amazing. We limped along to the Queen's Head, a marquee come pub/stage for Noah and the Whale one of the only bands we really wanted to see. Again we were right at the front and compete with an eclectic mix of instruments their set was really cool and a fantastic way to round off our festival. On the way to the pie and mash shop for a final meal we caught The Zutons mid-set and enjoyed a few finals songs before heading off back towards the car.

The Verve were headlining the main stage and although we wouldn't have minded watching them we decided to get away slightly early in order to beat the horrendous queues out of Glastonbury. It worked and surprisingly we were away without any delays. A thoroughly enjoyable experience all round. Once again thank you very much to our guide (you know who you are), without you and your tips we wouldn't have had such a great time. I think we would both love to go again, whether or not we'll get the chance in future years I don't know.

Oh, and you might just have seen us on TV a couple of times especially if you saw, of all people, bloody James Blunt.

Sorry if you got bored reading that mammoth post, if you're not tired of reading and want to check out some exciting pictures and videos from the weekend you can do so over
here with missbliss.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Life in The Fast Lane

You'd think the post exam/results period would be fairly relaxing but you couldn't be more wrong. I've not blogged for a week, and whilst I've not really done much of interest it is more the lack of spare time that has kept me away.

Looking for somewhere to live has been the main priority recently as missbliss wrote about, this isn't the easiest thing to do when you live hundreds of miles away from the place you're moving to, nor is it made any easier when you've never actually been to said place. Nevertheless with the help of the Internet and my trusty mobile, I managed to arrange several viewings for the weekend (albeit for places that neither missbliss nor me were particularly keen on). What was a reconnaissance mission more than anything turned out quite productive and we found a place that seems almost perfect. I have since spent the weekend with my fingers and toes crossed that the place hadn't already been taken late last week. It hasn't... and we're hopefully on our way to a lovely little flat. As with everything, what might have been a perfectly simple process has since developed complications but hopefully nothing we can't overcome. If anyone has any ideas about what we might do with all our belongings for the 2 week period between moving out of this flat and into our new one it would be greatly appreciated.

During my madness I have also decided it might be an idea to switch banks, this isn't an easy process at the best of times never mind in the middle of everything else. We managed to successfully apply for our first joint account last week and that was easy enough but somehow I don't think moving my student account with HSBC which is due to be upgraded to a graduate account in July will be quite as easy. Why all this madness you might ask? Why indeed, HSBC sent me a letter informing me that they want to reduce my interest free overdraft by £500 and charge an extortionate amount of interest on anything beyond that limit. Banks such as Lloyds and RBS offer a £2000 overdraft for graduates, matching my student account so tomorrow I'm going in search of a better deal. Yes it will be a hassle moving my professional studies loan and all my direct debits but I think in this case it might well be worth it. Missbliss's advice that being loyal to a bank is financial suicide (ok, so I'm exaggerating a little), seems pretty sound to me. Has anyone got any experience of moving banks? Particularly as a graduate.

Tomorrow I have a 2 week rule hospital appointment all of my own (although I've been waiting 4 weeks!) For those of you that don't know, the 2 week rule is the suspected cancer referral system but don't worry, I'm sure, as is my GP, that everything is fine.

To get away from it all I'm going to be spending most of this week in a tent in a field at Glastonbury. I will of course have my phone in my pocket awaiting phone calls from various banks, hospitals and letting agents, sometimes I wonder, what did people do before mobile phones and the Internet?

Monday, 16 June 2008

No Longer a Student But Not Quite a Doctor?

For this post I was going to write a wonderful parody of Britney Spears' - Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman but unfortunately I couldn't make what I wanted to write fit properly so you'll just have to make do.

I've just about calmed down after Friday. What a day, easily one of the best days of my life and also my proudest achievement. Waiting for the results I was more nervous than I've been for anything ever. When they finally appeared everyone rushed towards the board, as each person saw their name up on the board their face's turned from a look of terror into a look of amazement, 5 long, hard years culminating in a list of names. When I saw my name I couldn't quite believe it, I ended up checking 4 or 5 times just to make sure it was really there.

The following have satisfied the examiners:
The Little Medic

It really was there, and it has just about sunk in although I still half expect someone to knock on my door telling me it isn't really true and it has all been a terrible mistake.

What follows the publication of results, apart from overwhelming feelings of joy, relief and happiness is a state of limbo where one is stuck between being a student and being a doctor. Theoretically we're all doctors but I assume you must wait for graduation, or even pre-registration with the GMC before you're officially a doctor. Not that I'll let that stop me using every opportunity to use some form of doctor reference. Lunch on Friday - just what the doctor ordered (I don't think I'll ever get bored of that).

I've nothing more to do apart from sit here and wait for graduation, something which although I should be, I'm not all that bothered about. In the mean time I have a new blog to edit, feel free to offer any comments, suggestions or ideas.

Worryingly, the reality of the situation is that come August, I will be a doctor and I'll have real people to care for. At the moment, that thought terrifies me.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Friday the 13th, a day to remember!

I passed.

I did it! I made it! 5 long hard years over and done with. I can't quite believe I passed.

I've NEVER been as nervous as I was waiting for results this morning. When they wheeled out the board I swear my heart almost stopped. I had to recheck 3 or 4 times just to make sure my name was really on the list. It was. What an amazing feeling! Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some but for me today, it ROCKS!

I'm going to be a doctor! Oh dear lord.
edit: I AM a doctor


p.s. this blog is still under construction but what better way to launch it than with an announcement like this!