Deakin vs Melbourne: First Week of Med School

Tara and Travis, sub-editor and editor respectively from our 2015 team, started Med school last week. We’ve invited them back to compare their experiences!

Tara (Deakin, Geelong)

Source: Australian Design Review

It has taken weeks of preparation (and of sorting through cooking equipment and bed linen) before I could open the door of my new house on residence at Deakin, Geelong. Starting med this year at Deakin has presented many new challenges to me even now, just one week in. Above all, it has seen me finally move out of my home in Melbourne and step in to the brand new, and somewhat daunting, world of med school.

I chose to live on campus for the community atmosphere and company in a new city and it really paid off. We moved in the Friday before uni started so that I had already met a few first year students by Monday. It took less than ten minutes for me to realise that I knew almost no one outside of residence in my new cohort (coming from a cohort like Biomed where you know a lot people, this made me poop my pants). However, by the end of the first week I am happy to say that I have met a lot of new people and made a lot of new friends.

The week started with many introductions to lecturers, subjects and a group photo with everyone’s faces scrunched up staring at the photographer who, as all photographers must, stood in front of the sun (great look for your only cohort photo). In addition to lectures, we were introduced to labs and to our clinical skills sessions where we learn different skills that you would use in a healthcare setting. We began with the basics because we’re practically bambis in the woods and looked at hand hygiene clinical skills (essentially learning how to wash your hands properly) and were taught how to safely clear blood spills in a hospital. I made the mistake of volunteering to have my hands examined under UV light to see healthy bacterial growth on my skin and now live no more than 10cm from a Dettol bottle :(

Coming from Melbourne Uni, Deakin in Geelong is a very different experience. The hustle and bustle of Melbourne city life and a small, condensed campus was replaced with large green spaces, waterways, gum trees, the resident feral cat called Salem (off Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and my friend Theodore, one of the local rabbits. I came to Deakin looking for a different learning environment than that found in Melbourne but I still expected to miss the city that I lived in my entire life. However, I have to admit that I have genuinely enjoyed this last week and am happy and glad that I chose to study here.

I have also managed the shameful feat of getting sunburnt three times, resulting in a boiled beetroot complexion all week (my body has no knowledge of the word ‘tan’). Strangely, I am almost happy with my reddening blisters because it acts as a reminder to me of the great times that I have already spent with friends outside, playing touch football on the beach at Torquay and playing tennis on campus one too many times. We have also managed to visit the largest Coles in the world (highlight of the week tbh, it’s fantastic), been nerdy and watched Scrubs into the night, gone to our first Med Cocktail Night and are already planning a cute Mexican night for residence students on campus.

My experience may differ from others because of my living conditions but the great thing about this cohort is that anyone, no matter where they live, is up for catching up, getting to know others and for having a good time. I don’t think I have ever been in an environment where group learning and working together has seemed so natural.

Above all, I enjoyed last week because for the first time in a long time I feel like the people I study with has started to feel like a family. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends came from Biomed. However here with the cohort size and the general open nature of all the new students, it feels like we’re going to be a really strong and tight-knit group who are going to support each other all the way through what will be a tough four years. That is something that I am very excited for this year and into the future.

 

Travis (UniMelb, Parkville)

Source: http://www.unimelb.edu.au

After a few hours of restless sleep and a never-ending commute from Geelong, I arrived at Sidney Myer at 8.30 am full of excitement for my first day of Med school. Getting there at 8.30 turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected, thanks to VLine’s aversion to getting trains on time…or providing trains at all.

Initially, I was struck by just how many familiar faces were there. As it happens, 2016 appears to have been a good year for UniMelb Biomed, with a great portion of my now former cohort finding their way into the MD cohort at Melbourne. As the week progressed, this turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it was nice to know so many wonderful people in the cohort before I started, this made it all too easy to avoid meeting new people!

The first day of Med school progressed fairly boringly. As the first day of induction, we were scheduled to sit through about five and a half hours of lectures about the nitty gritties of the MD1 course. These provided useful insight into what was to come, but by the 1.5 hour mark I suspect most of us—new and old—had found Sidney Myer an agreeable place to take a morning nap.

With the formalities done and dusted, we then moved onto days 2 and 3 of induction. These days were jam-packed with activities, including a session on how to speak with patients (given by patients themselves), some sessions on how not to lose the plot during med school and a mock hospital session. The mock hospital, held at Ormond College, was a particular highlight. There, we had to pretend to be patients and be seen by doctors (actors in this case) who, let’s say, were litigation-friendly. One of the doctors, for instance, shouted at us after he mistakenly diagnosed us with cancer, whilst another asked us a question in gibberish and subsequently chided us for not understanding. Afterwards, our CSL (case-supported learning) group sat down with a tutor for a chat about the experience, which led to a really great discussion about professionalism and medical ethics. Indeed, it is worth saying at this point I’ve been very lucky to score a fantastic CSL group!

The final two days of induction week concluded with more lectures about the course runs, as well as a couple of group activities. One stand-out was an activity in our PCP (principles of clinical practice) during which we spent some time with a doctor discussing what his experience in medicine. My luck continued and we were put with a wonderful doctor who very evidently cared a lot for his patients and loved his career.

At the end of the week, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed about the year to come but also really fortunate to have been put in a really fantastic cohort of Med students. Unlike many Med students, I have never seen medicine as a make-or-break career. Indeed, I am still somewhat unsure that it is what I want to do long term. Nonetheless, after induction I’m feeling quite excited about getting to see patients (even though that’s a long way away) and getting stuck-in to the Biosciences again. On first impressions, it seems like it’s going to be a good—but enormously challenging—year ahead :)

7 Comments

  1. To Travis,

    I found it quite interesting how you are still unsure if you want to stick to this profession. I mean, doesn’t it require you to be set on being a doctor in order to get into med school? Don’t they ask you questions like ‘why do you want to be a doctor?’ in the interview?

    1. You’ll find that a lot of med students are in the same boat. There are some that have always been very driven to be doctors, but there are also a lot who have warmed to it as a potential career more recently and, indeed, still many that are not entirely sure whether they want to be doctors. Personally, I think this is perfectly reasonable. Medicine is a grueling profession at times and so too is med school.

      As to the other part of your question, I actually can’t give a complete answer, as we are not allowed to divulge the types of questions we’re asked in a med interview. It is certainly the case, however, that the MMI is structured to assess your motivations for medicine. Just because someone isn’t entirely sure of the career, does not mean that they do not have completely valid reasons for pursuing it as a career and also doesn’t mean that they’re not motivated to do so and to do well there.

      For my part, incidentally, I have enjoyed my first couple of weeks of Med school. Even in this short space of time, I have really started to feel excited about the prospect of seeing patients and, eventually, being a good doctor. Certainly, I suspect that the rigours of medicine will test that sometimes, but at this point I daresay I will continue on this course. :)

      -Travis

  2. Hi Travis and Tara,
    Im wondering how you found the pathway to med? I personally, am tossing up between Biomed or Science (have just finished year 12) and I’m unsure as to which course would suit me better/be less competitive. Ive heard Science is less competitive than Biomed as the latter has a large percentage who just missed out on med, whereas Science is less directed towards med and has more pathways to different outcomes.
    Sorry for the long-winded question, but what are your thoughts regarding the two courses, and if you did have to deal with the decision that I have to make – how did you go about it?

    TIA

    1. Hi Adam :)

      I think you’ve probably nailed the difference between science and Biomed, if you’re referring to Melbourne (I can’t speak for other unis).
      In substance, there’s little to separate biomed and science. The courses are structured differently, but at the end of the day, all of the majors offered in biomed are available in science, except for health informatics (I believe). The core subjects in biomed do relatively little to differentiate it from science, although Molecules to Malady in third year was a good and challenging subject that wasn’t available in science.

      As you’ve identified then, the difference really does boil down to the nature of the cohort. The biomed cohort is certainly extremely driven, perhaps somewhat neurotic, and that difference is certainly noticeable. There’s more of a diversity in science. Both in the sense of what people are hoping to do, but also in background.

      Your decision should then come to whether you think you’ll thrive in the biomed environment. If you’re a little bit neurotic, almost insanely ambitious and #studyislife then biomed is a cohort that will work well for you. If not, science is a bit more chilled.

      I should be clear and say that not everyone in biomed is like that. There are a lot of wonderfully kind and fun people in biomed; however, the vibe of the cohort is a little more stressed than science.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Hi!! How was the med interview at deakin and melbuni? What are some example questions? I landed an interview for Deakin but I am sooo scared I don’t know what ot expect and I don’t know if I’ll get in. Thank you!!

    1. Hi there!

      The interview was pretty fine to be honest. It’s a scary experience, but the interviewers were good to us and treated us well. Past the first couple of stations, you start to relax.
      Unfortunately, interviewees aren’t allowed to share examples of the questions they received during the interview. You may find some examples of questions used at other universities online.

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