Jane Wilkinson

Our final year medical students are in the midst of exams. Exams are occurring later this year to give the students more time on clinical placement and more revision time before finals. All our students have been disadvantaged by Covid either before they arrived at university or during their programme. This cohort of final years took a big hit as they were pulled off placement in year 3 at that vital transition point between early years predominantly classroom-based teaching and clinical placement. Despite this, the students have risen to the challenge and hopefully their hard work will pay dividends with a successful outcome allowing them to graduate and join the workforce in August.

Now would be a good time to reach out to your tutees in final year if you have not already done so just to check in that they are OK. I reflect on my own final year in Southampton in 1989. I remember feeling the pressure, but I genuinely believe it is far more intense for students today. Not only do they have to cope with university exams, but they need to sit the situational judgement test, jump through the hoops of the Foundation programme application process, and pass the Prescribing Safety Assessment to be able to prescribe as an FY1 as well as upload evidence of competency in a wide range of practical procedures.

After finals they will undertake an elective. Due to Covid, fewer students are choosing the traditional elective abroad. I was fortunate to be able to go to Trinidad for my elective in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I do appreciate how lucky I was, but I do question how necessary the experience was to my development as a doctor. I also question whether any benefit to me justified the environmental impact of travelling such a distance, and whether there was anything in it for my Trinidadian hosts. 

Under the leadership of the elective module lead, Harnish Patel, our students have engaged in a variety of activities during their elective module in the last couple of years. Some have chosen to work as physician’s assistants or vaccinators. Others have chosen to work with local groups such as a local charity supporting refugees. The reflections from the students make me think these experiences have been just as enriching, if not more so, and far more sustainable than the elective experience of my day.

I would just like to finish by mentioning the #50for50 celebration organised by MedSoc. We are now about halfway through the calendar of events but coming up in April are the Panthers cricket match – students versus alumni, the Easter BM6 summer school, CliMEs – teaching CPR at a Park Run and a get together for fun and games with students and refugees and asylum seekers at the Sports Hall on campus. The climax will be the MedSoc Spring ball at the end of April and a student organised “mela” celebrating the cultures and achievements of staff over the past 50 years

Student finals by Dr Jane Wilkinson

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