On the Eve of Fifth Year

I’ve been back in the UK for four weeks. The most stressful decision I’ve made in that time has involved choosing what to eat for breakfast. It’s been fabulous. The structure of fourth year is such that I’d gone twenty-nine weeks without stopping for breath, so a month of long sleeps and good novels and not going within sniffing distance of a hospital was, I think, exactly the thing I needed.

But the summer is over. The leaves on the Scottish trees are already beginning to turn brown. It seems that all good things really must come to an end — and thank God, honestly, because I am one of those people for whom the charm of doing nothing tends to wear off sooner rather than later.

Tomorrow, a new academic year begins and I enter my final year of medical school. It will be marked by final exams and job applications, and, next summer, I hope, by graduation. I was talking today about my first visit to St Mary’s on my very first weekend in Glasgow, and I can hardly believe that that was four years ago. I feel as if it isn’t even too terribly long since I was starting the final year of my last degree, sitting on the floor of my room in Stockton and talking to a friend about how quickly it all seemed to have gone. I suppose some things never change.

Now, this.

The beginning of the end of eight years in higher education. And this is the big one.



  1. Good luck on this final lap of your journey as a medical student :) I’m only going into the 2nd year in the Glasgow med school and I cannot wait until I am where you are now. Any tips for the second years?

  2. Maggie — I’m given to understand that there have been curriculum changes, so I don’t know how relevant my own experience is to yours. But from what I remember: don’t get yourself stressed about the reproduction and embryology block, it’s pretty horrific but it all gets better after that; make the most of clinical practice, you can get a lot out of it in second year and I liked having the opportunity to remember why I’d got myself into this in the first place; past papers are a Godsend; and, above all, don’t forget to enjoy this, because it’ll all be nearly over before you know it.

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