I’ve been signed off from what will, I hope, be my last proper rotation as a medical student. My terrifying supervisor turned out to be really rather lovely, in the end, and signed all of the assessment papers with a minimum of fuss and asked me to come see him if I want to apply for specialist training in obs and gyn in two years. I don’t, but I appreciate being thought well of nevertheless.
I am also, finally, a registered student. The fact that that has taken until this point in the academic year is a long and complicated story that involves a computer error with my funding body in England (which took my address in Glasgow and my parents’ address in Newcastle and merged them to create a mailing address for me that may exist on some other planet but certainly not on this planet), an ongoing piece of computer-related stupidity with my university in Scotland (which does not recognise some of the more obscure funding bodies as valid ones; these obscure funding bodies include, for example, NHS England and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and all of the Northern Irish education board), and their inability to commmunicate with each other. It has taken a great deal of standing in long queues and shouting at various people and, at one point earlier in the year, being threatened with not being allowed to complete my degree, but it is finally sorted and not a moment too soon.
And with that, the only thing standing in my way is the really scary part.
The written papers are on Wednesday and Thursday. My plan is to come home from the second paper and topple into bed, and to have the rest of Thursday off before diving into work for the clinical exams that come next. We are known at Glasgow for having the biggest and longest-lasting OSCE of any medical school in the country, with fifty stations spread over four days. This is a source of unbridled terror for those of us who have to sit it and horrified fascination for our colleagues at other medical schools and, for some reason, a source of demented pride for the faculty. The first OSCE is in psychiatry and obs/gyn on Monday 27th, which seems like a terribly random combination of specialties to throw together but, as a person who gets awful stage fright before OSCEs, it is a little bit of a comfort to be starting with one that is solely based on my most recent rotations. It is followed on the Wednesday with the bulk of the medicine and surgery stations, which I’ll be taking in the same ward that I dinged bells on for PACES last year. It is worth noting at this point that, due to my medical education having ended with the rotations that it has done, I haven’t used my stethoscope for three months and so much of next weekend will be taken up with remembering which end goes in my ears. I get a break after that until the following Tuesday, which is a short and stressful paediatrics exam. That will be quickly followed on the Wednesday by a random hodgepodge of things that either didn’t quite fit into the other exams or require equipment that is only available in the medical school building. By lunchtime on Wednesday March 7th, I shall be a free woman.
The other thing that happens on Wednesday, on the day of the first written paper, is that the UKFPO will at last tell me where I’m actually working next year — conditional, of course, on my getting through the next few weeks in one piece. So, there’s that too.
In the meantime, I can be found on the top floor of the medical school library, buried underneath a folder of past papers, dressed in reindeer socks and a series of fetching hoodies, and holding on to my coffee as though it holds the answers to life, the universe, the exam questions, and everything.