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Pratheeshaa Varuni Nageswaran: The fictional narrative

16 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

Pratheeshaa_Nageswaran_picI entered medical school armed with a large collection of my favourite fiction, a boxset of Friends, and excitement for this new phase of my life. Although getting lost in a book had always previously been one of my favourite things to do in my spare time, I found that with the increasing number of hours my head was in a textbook, I slowly started to lose interest in reading for fun anymore.

This year I reignited my interest, and with it I found that the act of reading personal stories—someone’s narrative—could offer doctors more than just the pleasure of a good book. I recently read Inside the O’Briens, a story where Joe, a family man, is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. more…

Claire Beecroft: Why all medical students need an education in health economics

29 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

Claire Beecroft2How do doctors manage conversations with patients about the availability (or often non-availability) of certain drugs or treatments within the NHS? In most consultations, the patient’s questions around their illness and treatment can usually be answered by drawing on a combination of medical training, formal guidelines, and clinical experience. However, few doctors will have received any training in health economics, and many junior doctors may be facing these questions for the first time and with no previous experience to reflect on.

Five years ago I responded to a request from our medical school at the University of Sheffield to provide some teaching for a programme that would address topics outside of the conventional medical curriculum. more…

George Gillett: Medical schools should teach students to combat disease, not terrorism

6 Jan, 16 | by BMJ


The winter holiday is a busy time for medical students. In anticipation of another year of clinical rotations, we’re faced with the annual onslaught of online training activities to prepare for our upcoming placements. These tasks invariably feature the relatively tedious topics so-cherished by our course organisers; health and safety, data protection, and manual handling. Yet this week, a rather unusual request landed in my inbox. I’d been asked to learn how to spot a terrorist.

The training, I was told, was mandatory for all medical students studying in the trust in which I’d been placed, and was compiled by the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy. more…

Alisha Patel: Why sustainability should be important to medical students

25 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

Alisha-Patel_picMedical school can feel like a production line of future doctors, equipping us with the skills to diagnose and manage patients with a vast number of illnesses. But if we are not engaging in issues related to sustainability along the way, then will we really be able to fully fulfil our duty as health professionals?

The concept of sustainable healthcare was briefly introduced to me in my first year of medical school. I was surprised to realise the extent to which the NHS is affected by environmental change, and that it is also contributing to it too as the largest public sector emitter of carbon emissions. more…

Alisha Patel and Emma Pearson: Volunteering in rural South Africa

18 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

Alisha-Patel_picemma_pearsonAfter two years of medical school and miserable weather, we decided it was time to take our newly found skills to a warmer climate. In summer 2015, we spent three weeks volunteering in Underberg, a rural town in the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. Our time there consisted of school outreach for children from the ages of 4-16 in the local school, community work, and research. It was a great opportunity to throw ourselves into the local culture and learn more about healthcare in South Africa. more…

Claire McDaniel: Mixing business with medicine

2 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

claire_McDanielTwice a week, in the evenings, I cheat on one of the greatest loves of my life.

I sneak away from my friends, slip out of the library, and leave the responsibilities of medical school strewn across my desk. I don’t respond to texts. I ignore emails. I miss meetings.

I’m exhausted because of it. It’s all I can do to keep up with my work, and let’s not talk about the bags under my eyes. The ladies at Sephora have told me that covering those up is a lost cause.

Twice a week, I go to my accounting and managerial statistics classes. You see, I may be a medical student, but I am also pursuing my masters in business administration. more…

Patrice Baptiste: Mental health issues among medical students

22 Sep, 15 | by BMJ

patrice_baptisteI was extremely saddened when I read the Student BMJ’s article on a survey of 1122 medical students, 343 of whom were suffering with mental health issues. Several astounding figures captured my attention. Firstly, 80% of the 343 students stated that the support they received was poor, if they received any support at all. 167 out of the 1122 students admitted to contemplating suicide during their time at medical school.

Let’s just stop for a second—suicide?! I cast my mind back to when I was at medical school; it was not that long ago. I remember the intensity of it. I sacrificed a large amount of time with my family and friends in order to revise for what seemed like a never ending barrage of assessments and exams. Of course I had several moments when I wanted to quit, when I wanted to walk away and give up on my dream, but I did not due to the constant support and encouragement I had from those around me. A small fraction of the 300 plus students in my year could have been suffering with mental health issues and contemplating suicide. Though the statistics are small these figures still represent people; students who are pursuing their dream, who want to better themselves, and help others. more…

George Gillett: The NHS and immigration

1 Sep, 15 | by BMJ

george_gillettLast February, the UK Home Office announced changes to immigration rules that would mean non-EU nurses would not have their visa applications prioritised. The decision not to add nursing to the list of “shortage occupations” reflects the government’s belief that nursing posts can be filled without international recruitment, but has received criticism from the Royal College of Nursing and a number of NHS managers. Clinical directors went as far as branding the move a “complete disaster,” while NHS Employers wrote to the Home Office to protest their decision earlier this month. more…

Sioned Gwyn on sexism and women in medicine

17 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

sioned_gwynSir Tim Hunt, British biochemist and Nobel Laureate, had until recently enjoyed relative anonymity outside of scientific fields. Recently, at an international conference of science journalists in Seoul, he was invited to speak at a meeting for women in science and delivered as part of his speech an extraordinarily ill judged few sentences which have come to haunt him: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.


Salil Patel: Why you should know about global surgery

12 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

salil_patel2More people die from a lack of surgical care than from HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Half of the world’s population face catastrophic financial expenditure due to surgery. With over 90% of people in most low and middle income countries lacking affordable, surgical care, medical students around the world are helping work towards resolving this injustice.

The last time you donated to a medical charity, it probably had no relation to surgery whatsoever. Why should it? To many, surgery is still a luxurious medical intervention reserved for high income countries. Paul Farmer, of Harvard’s School of Public Health, famously described surgery as the “neglected stepchild of global health.” more…

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