MBChB Medicine student Tahmeena Amin is halfway through her first year at Manchester and has settled in to life at the University well. Back in April last year, Tahmeena attended a Medicine offer holder day in Manchester, along with numerous other hopeful applicants. Here, she discusses the events of the day, from the anatomy tables to a blinking mannequin.
The schedule of the day began at 11 AM, but we arrived in Manchester a while before to view some accommodation, after which we made our way to Stopford Building, the venue for the day’s events. Once we arrived at Stopford we were given a short welcome talk and then a presentation on the Manchester programme, mainly focusing on the early years, and what makes it different from other medical schools. After this we were split up into smaller groups of ten. We then rotated around different taster sessions for a couple of hours, with lunch in between.
My first session of the day was having a go with the anatomy tables. These are essentially giant tablets which feature a rotatable image of the human body on the screen. You can do all sorts with it, for example you can tap on a body part and it’ll name it, or you can click to remove layers of the body to see what lies underneath. It definitely seemed like something that would be useful when it comes to revising anatomy!
The next session I attended was the physiology taster session. This was probably one of my favourite sessions of the day. We got to play around with a simulated patient mannequin, named Sim I believe. You could listen to his heart, feel for his pulse (on his wrists, his temple and even his foot), as well as practice cannulation and take blood! His heartbeat could be changed by a controller and we all had a listen using stethoscopes to see if we could notice the difference. I thought this seemed like a brilliant learning tool and a good way to practice some basic clinical skills before doing so on a real patient, as it gives you scope to make mistakes and learn from them, without harming anyone. The weirdest thing about the mannequin though, was the fact that it could blink! Yes, I repeat, the mannequin could blink! Another thing that I found rather weird, albeit cool, is that you can see his chest going up and down as he breathes in and out, just like you would with a real person!
Problem Based Learning
My last session before lunch was the PBL (Problem Based Learning) session. The programme at Manchester involves elements of Problem Based Learning, with early year’s students having 2 sessions a week of PBL. This was one of the many reasons why I applied to Manchester Medical School as I can’t imagine myself surviving on a course that’s purely composed of lectures! In this session we attempted a mock PBL case and went through what you’d look out for, and what you’d then go away and research before feeding back to the rest of your group in the next session of the week. I learnt that students come up with learning objectives or questions that they will go away and individually research, and that every student goes away and reads up on every question, rather than splitting the questions amongst the members of the group. I personally think this is better, because this way everyone has an in depth understanding of the topic, and if one person has misunderstood something, the other students will be able pick up on this and correct them.
Meet the Students
After lunch, we had a ‘Meet the Students’ session, which as the name suggests was where we met the students. It was actually really interesting, as well as useful, to hear a first-hand point of view of what it’s like to be a medical student at Manchester. I also learnt about the many intercalation opportunities available to Manchester medics. I think all the students that were running this session were intercalating in something or the other! This seems like a really exciting opportunity – to take a year out from medicine and do something a bit different, or to explore a topic you enjoy in greater detail, and on top of all that, obtain a BSc or Masters! Another thing that we were all welcome to hear from the students was that the first and second years of the MBChB programme aren’t as difficult as A-levels. Well thank god for that is all I can say!
Communication is key
My last taster session of the day was the consultations skills session. This was held in the Communication Skills Centre, which is where the interviews were held back in January. It’s safe to say that being there brought back memories! In this session we were split into smaller groups and were allocated a stimulated patient – an actor who plays the role of a patient. Here, we explored the idea of open and closed questions, the advantages and disadvantages of them both and learnt a bit more about how the stimulated patients and the theme of communication skills is integrated into the programme. That is another thing that seems brilliant about the course at Manchester – the fact that there is a real emphasis on communication. That’s probably why Manchester medical graduates are known to be excellent communicators!
Finally we had a talk on accommodation and then a wrap up talk focusing on the later years of the course. There was then a Q&A session where we had the chance to ask the staff and students anything we wanted.
To read more about Tahmeena and her life as a Student Medic then give her personal blog a read here – https://diaryofanaspiringmedic.wordpress.com/