Nostalgia

One of my friends recently asked me whether I missed working with patients. He also asked if the MSc program I’m currently enrolled in at the University of Edinburgh helped remind me of what it’s like to be a doctor.
The first question was easy for me to answer – I do miss working with patients – research is great, and to this day I stand by the reasons why I chose to pursue a few years of research-based training after finishing my primary medical qualifications. However, bedside practice is irreplaceable and unique. For me, it’s the perfect mix of challenge and reward. I’m enjoying all the new things I’m learning about neuroscience, but I still look forward to the day I hang my stethoscope around my neck and return to the wards and clinic once more.
As for the second question, I had to think about that for a little while. It’s true that I joined the program in Edinburgh to keep my clinical medicine knowledge up to date, but I truly feel that it has surpassed my expectations. To be completely honest, before joining the program I had thought (like many other people do) that ‘part-time’ and ‘flexible’ translated to ‘easy’. In fact, however, the opposite is true. Not only does a part-time program like this require an enormous amount of motivation and time management, but it also tests an individual’s resiliency.
I frequently find myself solving cases at three in the morning – just like I used to do while I was a medical intern – after a long day of lectures or lab work. Now, I don’t know if the program is designed to work in this way, but this kind of pressure does in fact remind me of what it’s like to be a doctor. Most, if not all, of my colleagues enrolled in the program at Edinburgh are practicing clinicians, so perhaps they don’t see the program the same way as I do. Being a doctor is a challenge, and working under pressure is a part of everyday life for any clinician. I think the program does a great job of reminding me of that.

Neuroscience in Krakow

I returned on Sunday from the wonderful city of Krakow which hosted the IBRO/IRUN NEURONUS 2013 forum. The city is spectacular, with some magnificent architecture and a rich albeit tumultuous history. I travelled with a group of friends from Berlin, and we managed quite a bit of sightseeing in the scarce free time we had. We toured the historic landmarks of the old city and visited Schindler’s factory (now a museum exhibiting the history of Krakow during World War Two).
The forum itself was very interesting, with speakers from around the world including Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. Aimed at students, the forum covered a wide range of topics from cellular and molecular aspects to clinical and affective neuroscience. There was truly something for everyone during the four action-packed days of intensive lectures, interactive sessions and poster presentations. I had some lively discussions with some of my colleagues from Poland about Alzheimer’s disease and stroke during the poster sessions, and learned a great deal about the cutting-edge research on disorders of consciousness from a world-renowned expert.
Although there were (unfortunately) no speakers from Edinburgh, I learned about some fascinating research being done in Cambridge in collaboration with a group at the University of Edinburgh and the Medical Research Council on multiple sclerosis. I also attended an interactive medical case report session of rare and interesting neurological illnesses presented by local medical students.
Now I’m back in Berlin, for another three weeks of lectures followed by my final exam in early June, and I’m also continuing my Laboratory Medicine module for the MSc Internal Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
I’ll be posting more about the forum soon! 🙂

Some photos from Poland:

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Exam time

So I realize it’s been a while since my last post (over two months, besides the last two which I actually started weeks ago but only just posted). The reason for this is, I’ve been swamped with lab work since mid-January, and I just handed in my final lab report and started a ten-day break from studying!

At least that’s what I thought, this week is my assessment week at the University of Edinburgh’s online distance learning MSc in Internal Medicine. This is the third such assessment week since I started last September, but it’s definitely the most challenging. Ten weeks of study culminating in one exam that includes all aspects of internal medicine bundled into 100 questions. From the kidneys to the brain, the skin to the liver – nothing is off-limits! I’ve been handling my lectures and tutorials well thus far, but I still feel like I should be studying more! The exam is in the style of the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) exams, which I hope to take sometime next year. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the exam, and I believe that the excellent preparation I received from the teaching staff at Edinburgh will serve me well. The program is brilliantly designed to guide it’s students through a wide range of topics, focusing on common illnesses, which is what the MRCP exam aims to test.

That being said, I may not have so much time to post anything this week, but I plan to come back next week with more exciting stories to tell! (And hopefully a victorious conquest of the exam)

Till then 🙂 !