A (very) Brief Overview and Guide of Year 3

Hi guys, welcome to the first blog post of The Year 3 Series!

Congratulations on making it to third year! I hope you had a great introductory week, found the Intro to Third Year event useful, and are looking forward to your first week of firms.

Starting firms is really exciting – you’re finally going to see real patients, do examinations and learn clinical skills! But it can also be overwhelming – what do I actually do on firms? How do I take a history? How can I take bloods??

As you start firms next week, I thought I’d post a few tips on how to settle in to the new year!


Overview of Year 3

This year you’ll have three attachments in Medicine, Surgery and GP, across different sites. Each placement will give you a slightly different experience with the chance to observe and practice a range of skills. For instance, GP is a great rotation to perfect history taking skills, while in surgery you can practice key clinical skills e.g. cannulation, or even get to help with suturing! Alongside firms, you will have regular lectures on Wednesday mornings, the DPD course and three summative exams.

Here are some of the key dates for the year:

  • Introduction weeks: Central & Site
    • Central: 9th – 13th September (which you’ve already had)
    • Site: 16th – 20th September (which you’re just starting now!)
  • 3 attachments in Medicine, Surgery & GP
    • Firm 1: 23th September – 22nd November
    • Firm 2: 6th January – 5th March
    • Firm 3: 10th March – 8th May
  • Doctor, Patient & Disease (DPD): 3 weeks of lectures
    • 25th November – 13th December
  • Exams
    • FOCP Exam: 3rd January
    • OSCE & Written Exam: 18th – 29th May



What should I bring to firms?

Here’s a quick list of what you could bring to firms:

  • ?‍⚕️ Stethoscope
  • Fob watchnot absolutely essential (I didn’t get one until May ?) but would help you with examinations and also checking the time if you don’t have a watch or a pocket for your phone. You can buy one fairly cheap from Amazon.
  • ? Little notebook and pento jot down any interesting cases you come across, conditions to look up later and make notes in during your teaching sessions.
  • ? iPadto use Form2 to sign off your DOPS, use Brainscape on your commute and read e-books/your notes (easier than carrying textbooks or your laptop around!)
  • ? Cheese & Onion – on iPad/hard copy: super handy to carry it around during ward rounds, in clinics and at GP. You can quickly look up the condition a patient presents with, and you’ll be more likely to remember the condition and patient this way. 
  • ? Lunch, snacks and water
    • At some placements, you may be able to leave food in a fridge in the student common room/staff kitchen at GP. Most hospitals have a canteen where you can buy hot & cold meals – remember to show your NHS/Imperial ID card to get staff discount! Some sites offer lunch vouchers too! (e.g. Hillingdon or St Peter’s)
  • ? Laptop
    • If you’re at GP with long breaks you may want to use this time to work on your CAP project.
  • ? Comfy shoes!!
    • If you’re doing Medicine or Surgery, you might find yourself either running around the hospital during ward rounds or standing up for long periods of time!
  • ? Costa Coffee Card
    • Okay not essential at all but let’s be real most ward rounds end at Costa so why not make the most of the points you could earn…?‍♀️
Okay so I’ve got to my hospital, had my induction session and found my team…now what?

Introduce yourself to the team and consultant, and discuss your timetable for the placement (in case they think it’s better for you to go to another clinic/surgery at certain times). Get to know the F1s and shadow them; you could exchange numbers so they could let you know if there’s an interesting case happening on X ward, or if they’re about to go to A&E. They can sign off your DOPS as well! Also, get to know your teaching fellows; these are your first point of call if you have any concerns.

How can I make the most of my time at firms?
  • ☀️ Get to firms early!
    • Ask a nice F1 if there are any patients you and your partner could take a history from or examine. One can take the history, the other can examine, and then you can present to and mark each other. Interactive mark schemes for examinations can be found here (https://simpleosce.com). You can then present the case to the F1 or to your consultant during the ward round. This is a great way of helping the team, making the most of your time and practicing vital OSCE skills – and you might get valuable feedback from the team! Once you feel comfortable, you could assist with writing up notes in the patient’s clerking booklet – another key skill that comes up in OSCEs!
  • ? Shadow the phlebotomist
    • They usually do rounds early in the morning; they’ll let you observe and practice taking bloods! You could also go to AAU or A&E to practice bloods and cannulation.
  • ? Although you’ve been allocated particular placements, you can still go to other departments, shadow their clinics or join their ward rounds etc (if there aren’t too many other students) e.g. if you’re on Respiratory, feel free to go to Cardiology or Gastroenterology!
  • ? AAU is the perfect place for practicing histories and examinations
    • you will find patients with all the common conditions you’ll see in exams e.g. pancreatitis, pneumothorax, pneumonia etc. It might be useful to first clerk the patient with your partner, and then check what you’ve found against the patient’s notes – this will help you think through different presentations!
  • ✅ Try and get your DOPS signed off by the end of this first term! Any staff member with a GMC number can sign you off.
  • ? Attend Clinical Skills & Methods and Bedside Teaching
    • These are the only formal teaching sessions you will receive from Imperial on OSCEs. The sessions are run by your teaching fellows and clinical skills tutor taking you through examinations, histories and clinical skills.
  • ? Attend teaching sessions!
    • These are designed by your teaching fellows to cover all of the core topics that could come up in the written exam. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal for content to go over your head at this stage, but as you settle in to firms it’ll start to make more sense. Keep any handouts/slides as you might find them useful later on.
  • ? If you have some time to spare, you could practice histories or examinations with your firms group in the common room
  • ? If it’s around 1pm, there’s nothing much happening and you feel you’re no longer being productive then don’t feel obliged to stay at firms! You may learn more from going home, taking a break and reading up on the conditions you saw in the morning.


What resources should I use?

We’ll be posting more later about the useful resources available, but here’s a quick overview:


Final Remarks

As third year is the first clinical year, it is quite different from first and second year. A lot of your learning will come from what you see on firms, as opposed to lectures. But if you find yourself struggling know that you are not the only one. MM and older years are always happy to help and give advice! We’ve all been in that position before…

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We’ve all been in this position at some point…

Third year is the best year of medical school; you get to pretend to be a doctor but can come home and enjoy yourself! I’d definitely recommend making the most of your spare time and getting involved with any clubs and societies that you’re interested in this year. If you do a little bit of work regularly, you’ll be sorted!

We hope you found this post useful!  We’ll be blogging more throughout the year so watch this space ??

If you have any questions, ideas for posts, or would like to blog for us then please let us know by registering your interest here! ?

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Best of luck with firms and Year 3!

Aleena Hossain

MM Year 3 Coordinator

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