Life as a Surgeon – Insights from UEA

Two of our Year 12s who are looking to enter the world of medicine recently went to the University of East Anglia (UEA) to learn about life as a surgeon and the study involved to become one. Amelia gives her experience of the day:

“When we arrived at UEA we had a little time to spare so we walked around the designated building which had all the study rooms and lecture theatres that we would need to be in for the day – the talks and activities would be held here. We were then escorted to the main lecture theatre in which we sat and had a few minutes before the first talk began. The first talk was roughly 20 minutes, led by a surgical student who had completed her 5 medical years at Cambridge University and was now in her 2nd/3rd year of specialising to become a surgeon, studying at UEA as a post-graduate. She was very infor

mative, delivering a PowerPoint which explained and covered her experiences, describing the path to becoming a surgeon, along with the long hours, the travel costs and general expenses – further addressing any worries we may have had.

The second talk was delivered a few minutes later by a male consultant who had been in his profession for many decades. He expressed his own opinions on surgery – ‘the beauty of finding a problem and being able to fix it’ – along with a very detailed story about an experience he encountered many years before. He was once about to go into surgery, but a problem had occurred at that very moment in which the patient began deteriorating within a matter of seconds, so he had to very quickly open the patient’s chest and save their life with his own hands along with very little help. He further spoke about the revolutionising and constantly adapting surgery life, and how in a few years he expects nothing less but to see humans having to assist robots in surgeries.

We then had another lecture scheduled, however, the doctor who was going to deliver the talk was in surgery, so the medical students took over and spoke to us about their first-hand experiences on placement, asking us if we had any questions, whilst talking to us about UEA itself and the medical programme it runs. After a while we got divided into groups based on numbers of students in each school. Having only the two of us representing Dereham Sixth Form College we got placed with another school with roughly 5 students in their group.

We then got taken upstairs into a classroom where there was a medical student waiting for us, in which we carried out different activities in our groups. The first activity we carried out was watching the medical student prep to give CPR to a mannequin, this being what he would do to a patient if they needed CPR. He began by checking for danger, listening to a pulse, locating pressure points and then actually carrying out CPR; demonstrating the amount of force we had to put into it along with the hand placement and timings. We all then, one by one, got to try this out, following the standard steps he presented, to successfully give CPR to the mannequin.

After this we went back down to the lecture theatre and spoke to two medical students, one to one, about any questions we had; them giving advice to us on personal attributes medical school interviewers look for, UCAT scores and prep, work experience and volunteering. I personally found this very useful and feel as if I have learnt a lot from this, as they have recent first-hand experience. One of the medical students was in their 3rd year, the other 5th year.

The final activity we partook in was watching one of the med students perform a typical OSCE exam – these are exams which are very helpful in medical education because they allow a student to practice and demonstrate clinical skills in a standardised medical scenario. One of the people in our group volunteered to be the patient and this was a really interactive, engaging way to allow us to have some insight into the exam and how they test students at medical school.”