Monday, 14 November 2016

A long overdue update

Sorry I haven't posted on here for so long, I didn't feel much like blogging for a while. I didn’t pass the 2nd year resit exam, which was really shitty. And it was made worse by the fact that I only just didn’t have the marks to pass.

After the results day I was in a unique situation due to fairly big changes to the structure of the course, which had been made for the year below me. Normally it would have been a simple case of repeating the year. The exam board clearly stated that they thought I was capable and should be allowed to resit the year due to my mitigating circumstances. One other person wasn’t so lucky and after failing the exam she had no option but to leave the course. However, the changes to the course meant that there were no Christmas exams in 2nd year any more, just big exams at the end of first year (which mostly include everything that was previously examined in first year and the 2nd year Christmas exams on the old course), and then the next set of exams aren’t until the beginning of third year. I had several meetings with the head of the medical school and they kept me waiting for almost a month whilst they decided what to do with me. In the end the medical school decided that it would be unfair of them to put me back in with the year below as that would mean I would have to sit their end of 1st year exam. By this point it was February and the exams were in May, and the medical school thought that that wasn’t enough time for me to be prepared for the exams and that it would just be “setting me up to fail”. This meant that my only option was to restart first year in September, effectively dropping me back 2 whole years, which was pretty rubbish to say the least. The only comfort was that by way of recognition of it being so shit making me restart the course from the beginning, the uni waived my fees for my repeat first year so I didn’t have to pay anything/no tuition loan for that year.

I had about 8 months out away from uni before starting the course again in September 2014. It was quite nice to have a break from Medicine and the intense studying for a while. I worked a lot of locum pharmacist shifts and managed to save quite a bit of money.

So I started the course again in September with the first years. It wasn’t much fun. I felt like a bit of a fraud being with all the new students when I’d already completed first year previously. At first I was fairly open with people and told them about my situation, but after a couple of unpleasant responses from people (including one girl who immediately turned round and told everyone else around her “Did you hear that, this girl failed and has to start again haha”) I now only tell people if it comes up or if they ask. I got through first year though, made new friends and passed the exams pretty well.

I worked a lot during the summer holiday between first and second year, and combined with the money I’d earned on my time out from the course my partner and I were able to buy our first house last year! My boyfriend also asked me to marry him that summer (I said yes!), and during first year we also got a cat J. I feel in a much better position now than I did previously, and a lot of that is due to the time out from the course when I was able to work. We’re in a much better position financially, which makes things a lot easier as I’m not constantly stressing about money and working all the time like I did previously. This house (which we now own) is also much nicer and warmer, and the mortgage is actually cheaper than what we were paying in rent for a much worse house! So that’s one good thing that’s come from repeating the year.

Second year was fairly enjoyable. In the first term we mostly had lectures that built on year 1 work with more of a clinical emphasis. After Christmas we were then based in the hospital for the majority of the time. We weren’t on specific specialist placements, but instead we went around different areas of the hospital, and one day a week at GP, building up our clinical knowledge and skills and getting used to learning in a clinical environment. It’s difficult at times, especially when you have a disinterested consultant and just feel in the way a lot of the time, but I still really enjoy being in the hospital, opposed to sat in lectures, and feel that I’ve learnt a lot this year.

I worked really hard for the exams we just had in September. We had a few weeks “summer holiday” off before the exams but I just used it as revision time. I was really happy with my exam results. I got 79% on the SAQ (short answer questions) exam (pass mark 67%(which was really high, normally it’s around 60%!)) and 72% on the MCQ (multiple choice questions) exam (pass mark 62%). I also passed 15/15 OSCE stations (pass mark 11/15 stations). I don’t know what decile I am as they haven’t released the decile information yet as the resit exam results are only being released today.

I feel in a much better place now than if I had scraped through the exams back in 2014. I feel like I know a lot more, I’m passing everything comfortably and I can hold my own when being quizzed by consultants on the ward. So although it was rubbish having to start again at the time, now I think that it was probably for the best.

I was a bit sad seeing my original year graduating earlier this year and all the “I’m a Dr” posts on facebook. But then I found out that a high amount of people didn’t pass the exams. 14 people are needing to retake the year and 5 people aren’t even being allowed to re-take the year and they’re just out, after 4 years work with nothing to show for it. I’m pretty certain that had I just scraped through the exam I failed, that could have easily been me, so I’m very glad that I got the fresh start and feel like I’m doing pretty well currently, not just scraping by.

So now I’m officially a third year medical student. I’m over half way through the course. I’m currently finishing off my research project, and then we’re going back into the clinical environment, which I’m looking forwards to. We have 3 week’s worth of consolidation lectures and some time in the hospital, and then after Christmas we start our proper specialist clinical placements. I’m getting there, slowly!


  1. I'm glad it's all seemed to work out! It must have been really tough in the beginning, but it looks like a lot of good things have come from a less than ideal situation. I wish you the best of luck with the rest of third year and medical school.

    1. Thanks for your comment :) yes it was tough initially, but I'm getting there