Firstly – congratulations on completing first year! You should all be rested after the long summer break to tackle the four modules that stand in your way to the clinical years. You already know the structure of the terms, what a KT day feels like and how to navigate studentcentral so you’re halfway there. This guide is by no means a bible but, upon reflection of the year, just a few things that I wish someone had told me a year ago.
The thing with second year is you will have hopefully worked out how you learn best through your successes and failures in first year. Just like first year, there is a lot to learn but as long as you know what works for you it will be fine. While you might find yourself working harder than last year because the content is a little more challenging, it is not an impossible task. Do not forget that there is a world outside of medicine and while you feel you may have over committed in becoming a committee member of 4 different societies, you will still have time to keep playing the sport you love or going to every MedSoc social (thank you Megan) or even both – you have just got to manage your time but it is 100% doable! Many people say second year is their favourite because they’ve settled into the phase 1 routine and know the ins and outs of Brighton that mean they can take full advantage of the many things this amazing city and uni has to offer.
So first term is the dreaded neuro term. There are no more MT tests, but you do have two case study-assessments that are basically bigger MT tests. They focus primarily on clinical cases (surprise) and are there to ensure you are keeping on top of the lectures. I found MT tests extremely useful in first year as it meant that I actually had to do work so when it came to week 9 I wasn’t totally clueless but after 202, you are on your own until the KT. I would say very core content for this term is the anatomy of the brain and what each part is supposedly responsible for. Also getting to grips with cranial nerves (this is also very useful for the OSCE) and the foramina they go through would be handy. Understanding this early on would have helped so much as it comes up again and again and would make the rest of the term a lot easier to get to grips with. Brain DR is awesome so get involved! At some point in the term, you may feel like you will never understand the ins and outs of neuro. I promise that if you stick at it something will suddenly click and you will feel enlightened. Also, make friends with some of the medical neuroscience students as you’re sharing the entire module with them.
You still have your clinical days but these are on Thursday. The secondary care placements are so much better than first year, like A&E and ITU. You begin seeing how all the systems fit together and you’ll surprise yourself about how much you remember from Heart, Lungs and Blood when the consultant starts asking you questions. Take full advantage of these sessions and remember that, while it’s not the same as saying you’re a first year, they still don’t expect much from second years – no need to be worried about saying the wrong thing. Advice for the OSCE would be to refresh your knowledge of year 1 clinical skills sooner rather than later (third term is very busy), keep practicing your history taking at your GP placement and don’t leave telling the 201 office that you still haven’t seen your chronic patient (for the essay) until the end of second term…
Second term is all about reproduction and endocrinology. Widely considered the simplest content of second year but do not underestimate how much content there is to actually remember… You also have to produce a Patient Information Leaflet, which is something that you probably never have done before. I would recommend having a look at lots of examples online or when you’re waiting for your secondary care placement to get an idea of their layout and how they word complex medical issues. But no need to even think about this until 2019.
Third term is musculoskeletal and immunology. I don’t think there’s a right way to do this term as everyone did it differently. Some focused on getting their anatomy down early at the expense of immunology and vice versa. (As in every cohort, there will be people who know everything but don’t be put off if you know nothing in the module tutorials. Just like neuro, suddenly things will start falling into place.) There is a lot of dissection in this term and reading the notes before is crucial. I spent the first half of the term absolutely clueless in the DR because I know nothing so it was completely pointless. Putting in just 30 minutes before the session makes DR a lot more worthwhile. On top of everything you have a poster to do and also your OSCE. I would say this term was the most difficult for me because everything was so new so maybe start a little earlier to avoid too much stress. This was the only term where I bought a book, an old edition of “immunology at a glance” off eBay. It was really useful to get the basic principles but immunology has moved on so quickly that it didn’t really match up with the lectures so was not that useful. You can’t win them all. You will most likely be staying off campus in second year so it is now a lot more effort to get to uni. You can’t just roll out of bed at 8:40 and wonder into to a 9am – but that doesn’t mean a night out can’t be managed. I cycled as much as I could. It saves money as you don’t have to buy a bus ticket and it also gets in that much needed exercise. Make sure you get some gloves for winter and be prepared to get super sweaty in the summer so maybe leave some extra time to cool down. It’s also really easy to walk into Brighton from the Lewes Road area and a taxi back isn’t usually more than £5, which you can split between 4. You will also become really inventive at making your own lunch using the random ingredients that aren’t mouldy in your fridge (Robyn’s toast salad is my favourite from last year) and bringing it to lectures because the food on campus is £££. Make sure you invest in a good Tupperware.
Having a house isn’t like living in halls because you’re normally with less people and medics don’t live right next door – pre drinks therefore takes a lot more planning. It’s always nice to invite people round for something like Great British Bake Off or Game of Thrones to make sure you keep socialising and having a break from uni work. I wouldn’t recommend putting any blu tack on your walls as they do stain it and you will lose some of your deposit. If something is wrong in your house, make sure you let the landlord know ASAP and don’t leave it until the end of the year to sort out. We got charged £5 per broken light bulb (absolutely ridiculous) when we moved out our house this year but if we had emailed as soon as there was a problem it would have been sorted for free.
There are some really nice pubs and bars around Brighton that will have seemed too out of the way when you were on campus but now it is time to explore some of these hidden gems. Whether it’s a cheeky morning coffee in Mojo’s or chilling in the Martha Gun beer garden during the summer, there’s something for everyone. And if you want to study, medics dominate Aldrich library in Moulsecoombe during exam period (or so I’m told). Lidl is a short walk away from Lewes Road for those of you on a serious budget. The Open Market is also good for some decent cheap food.
Ultimately, keep calm and you will smash second year. Stay on top of your work but don’t forget to have some downtime. I remember someone telling me during my freshers week that the hardest part of medical school is actually getting in… So enjoy it!