Frances Dixon on her first month at medical school

So that’s four weeks of medical school gone. Just six more years left. The first month has been pretty hectic, but thoroughly enjoyable. It started off, as most courses do, with a couple of weeks of social events to get everyone introduced to everyone else. These included a pirate themed boat party, a beach themed party, a salsa night and a black-tie ball. Needless to say, I now have a very impressive collection of fancy dress.

Mixed in among the hectic partying was some real work though, mostly introductory lectures and admin. The highlight for me was the foundation course on the human body. For this we had a couple of lectures in the morning, and in the afternoon were taken into the dissecting rooms and actually allowed to examine and explore some cadavers. I found this absolutely fascinating.

It sounds silly to say it now, but in textbooks all the organs etc are colour coded and separate from each other, and so I sort of assumed this is what it was really like. I mean, obviously I didn’t think the organs were colour-coded! But I didn’t realise just how packed in everything is, and how it is all secured there by membranes. It just fits together so perfectly and really made me appreciate what an amazing thing the human body is. I was also impressed with the respect with which the cadavers are treated.

Now we are having regular lectures and practicals. These are interesting, but having five lectures in a day can be really draining mentally. I think it helps a lot to prepare beforehand. On Friday we had a practical that required blood, so the obvious place to get the blood was ourselves. I was the donor, and my lab partner was the taker. She had never taken blood before and I was pretty worried about this, but actually it was fine and (almost) painless! I think it made the practical that bit better, knowing that it was my own blood we were looking at, although I appear to have a worrying low red blood cell count. Maybe we were inaccurate in our
measurements. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

On another, more general note, cooking and doing laundry for myself is going pretty well. I am shocked at how expensive food is though, although that could also be because my halls are in South Kensington.

But apart from the cost, cooking isn’t actually that hard, I have discovered. And no, I don’t just mean beans on toast. The washing machines in halls are also pretty idiot proof, which to be honest is definitely a good thing. But they are also expensive, at £2 per wash. Oh well, welcome to the real world I suppose.

So really, medical school is fun, on the whole, and I am looking forward to the next few years.

Frances Dixon is a medical student at Imperial College School of Medicine, London.