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Medicine student on a GP clinical placement, in a consultation with a patient

What is it like on clinical placements?

What is it really like on clinical placements?

If you are thinking of studying Medicine with us, you may be wondering what it is really like on clinical placements.

We start regular clinical placements from the beginning of our programme, delivering a significantly higher proportion of our curriculum on placement than many other medical schools.

Below, some of our current Medicine students reflect on their clinical placements - what they experience, what they enjoy, and also what they find challenging.

Alexandra Holland

Alexandra Holland - Year 1

No two days on placement look the same. One day we could be reviewing X-rays from a patient who has just had surgery and the next we could be talking to a family member about their experiences caring for a loved one with a health condition.

This makes placements exciting as you never know what to expect and prepares us for life as a doctor where we will have to adapt to every situation we are faced with, and cope with problems we could never have anticipated.

Meeting so many different patients has taught me a great deal about communication and how important it is to be able to try to put yourself in the patients’ shoes and understand what it is like for them as an individual. Having different experiences every day has also helped me become better at coping under pressure.

The tutors are knowledgeable and so supportive – this makes me feel empowered to become the doctor I want to be. I also love being able to speak to so many people and hear about some of the amazing life experiences they have had and the health experiences they have had as an individual.

When you first start placement, it is unlike anything you have ever done before, so it feels very daunting. But this creates some amazing learning opportunities and allows you to see your confidence grow!

Grace Abraham - Year 1

A typical first year placement involves half a day each week speaking to patients and practising some examination skills. We are usually a group of 2 to 4 medical students accompanied by a doctor. We alternate each week between hospital and GP placements.

Placements help me to consolidate and reinforce the communication and examination skills we've been learning during the week. It also helps to remember the information we've learnt when we have a real-life person to associate this learning with. It's an opportunity for us to apply our knowledge and practise some clinical reasoning.

I enjoy being able to practise my communication skills. I've become much more confident speaking with patients over the past year. Receiving feedback on my consultation and seeing other people consult has both formed important parts of my learning.

Grace Abraham
Sarah Mahmood

Sarah Mahmood - Year 1

In first year, we had placement in a GP setting and hospital. We alternated each week so we got exposure to primary and secondary care.

A typical day on placement involves firstly going over current content and the tutor can answer any questions you may have. We would then go through our workbooks with the tutor, which was great because the tutor would give us lots of useful information, which is extremely helpful for PBL and lectures.

After this, we would speak to patients relating to the content that we have been studying and take a history from the patient and if necessary, do a clinical examination.

Once the patient has left, the tutor would ask us some questions relating to the case. We would all do a quick summary and relate the patient case to the learning outcomes for the week.

Going on placement enables me to put my knowledge from lectures and PBL into perspective and this really aids my consolidation of topics. I am also able to ask doctors clinical questions and I can make links with science and clinical knowledge.

I really enjoy talking to the patients and listening to their stories because every patient is different and it's interesting to hear how there can be several causes to one problem. This ensures that we're always thinking outside the box.

Arbab Gamar

Arbab Qamar - Year 1

Since Hull York Medical School introduces clinical placements early, this allows us to be more comfortable speaking to patients earlier as we have more experience, and it makes us more confident in our communication skills.

We tend to be in groups of 4 or 5. First you meet with your tutor and discuss the prework that has been set for you and ask any questions you may have. Then you discuss the patient you're about to see and what questions you may ask.

In the group, we then nominate one person to do the questioning for that session while the rest of the group observe and then give feedback at the end. We then go speak to the patient and introduce ourselves and the nominated person asks questions.

Once they've finished asking their questions, the other students can take over and ask any questions they might have. We then go back and discuss what we've learnt and give feedback to the student who asked the questions.

I enjoy speaking to new patients and getting an insight in their life.

Rebecca Jenkins - Year 3

We do a whole variety of things in clinical placements in Year 3. This includes seeing patients, spending days on the ward with the junior doctors and nurses, attending surgery and clinics, and going to GP surgeries.

You can really tailor your experience to your interests and maximise what you want to do whilst still completing skills and clinical competencies.

Placements are a chance to put all your theory and learning from Years 1 and 2 into practice, relating what you have learnt to real patients with real life stories.

I particularly enjoy the chance to feel part of a team and begin to understand what life would be like as a junior doctor.

Rebecca Jenkins
Sam Stokes

Samuel Stokes – Year 5

On a typical placement day, I would arrive and introduce myself to the clinical team on that day. I would then attend the handover so I know who is on the ward.

I'll then help the doctors do their jobs for the day which can include taking blood, catheterising patients, or putting cannulas in as well as so much more. The rest of the day is then spent taking histories and examining patients either for our learning or because they need to be admitted.

I enjoy the challenge and the experience of being able to help patients as well as improve their patient experience.

The challenges are sometimes on placement, you come across difficult things. Patients die or become severely disabled. That can be hard to deal with.

You get to see a wide variety of patients and exam findings which will prove helpful for your future careers. It also means you become very proficient in different skills.

Jannah Holmes - Year 5

In Year 5, in the mornings we complete ward rounds, carrying out documentation and chatting to patients, before getting quizzed by the consultant.

The afternoons involve clinics, prescribing, clinical skills, history taking and physical examination preparation. There is also usually some form of teaching or online session.

The challenges are you do have to put in what you want to get out of it. I’ve found the experience is good for understanding an F1’s role. I particularly enjoy the patient contact, which prepares us for life as a junior doctor.

Jannah Holmes