For our medics.

Welcome to an information page about Phase 1 & 2 of Cardiff medical school including some top tips! Also check out our blogs to see some "What's it like?" contributions from our members about their firsthand experiences of placement, electives and intercalation! We hope that this will be useful to get a picture of what to expect, but we always recommend to check out the university pages and internal information to ensure you are up-to-date!

PHASE 1: YEAR 1 & 2

Structure: The first term of Year 1 is known as PCS (Platform for clinical sciences) where you learn the basics and core principles of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and other key subjects. After that, it is case-based learning all the way to the end of Year 2. This consists of 2-week clinical cases, where learning is underpinned by a clinical case and you begin to develop your self-directed learning through creating learning outcomes in your case groups and building upon your previous learning - hence a spiral curriculum! 

Assessment: Throughout Phase 1, there are formative (mock) quizzes to help consolidate your learning. In Year 1, you also have two mock exams: anatomy & F1 (formative science paper). At the end of both years, you also have summative exams which test you on your learning throughout the year - these count towards your progression into the following year and towards your rankings. Year 2 also have ISCEs (integrated structured clinical examinations) which is a station style exam testing you on history-taking, examinations and data interpretation.

SSCs: You also get to do a variety of SSCs (student selected components) - these are designated weeks in the timetable where you do mini-projects to help build academic skills and insights into branches of medicine. There are a vast array of projects to choose from and in Year 2, you can begin to build your own SSC so that you can pursue a topic or specialty that interests you. 

Resources: Although content may update each year, the recommended reading list is always fairly similar - most of these can be borrowed from the library or bought second-hand - the core ones are Pococks and Moore's; then there will be other suggested books which you can mostly also access online from the library as well. There are other resources as well as such as flashcards, websites, Youtubers and don't forget to make use of Peerwise which the medical school will introduce you to! Click on any of these resources to read a comment about it!

Phase 1

 
 

Phase 2

Phase 3

And finally, here are some top tips about Phase 1!

“Get into the habit of finishing your notes from lectures and tutorials quickly after having them to prevent your workload from piling up!”

“Get involved in a range of societies so you can meet people from differnt courses and take time out of your studies to enjoy yourself - work hard, play hard!”

“Keep yourself organised with a diary & calendar so you can plan out your work and activites around your timetable. This helps you to have short term goals to aim for!”

" Stay on top of revisiting clinical skills learnt in the self-directed learning area and practising examinations so it comes out off the back of your hand! Set yourself a revision plan with a friend!"

 

PHASE 2: YEAR 3 & 4

Structure:  Phase 2 marks the begining of the clinical years. Placements are a fantastic way to put into practice key topics we have learnt and see medicine in practice. The overarching structure sees each year split up into three main blocks lasting approximately eight weeks.

 

In Year 3, these are:

  • Hospital Front door (emergency/ acute medicine)

  • Chronic Disease (key specialty wards: respiratory, gastoenterology, cardiology, endocrine & 2-week at GP)

  • Oncology and Surgery (usually 4 weeks of variety of surgical specialties and 4 weeks of oncology)

 

Each placement block is commenced with an introductory week with a combination of lectures and simulated teaching and practical skills and concluded in a similar fashion. There are also supplementary lectures covering other core topics. Throughout this year you will gain clinical competence in examining patients, taking histories and observing a range of presentations and practicing our practical skills previously learnt in simulated environments. Within each placement block, there are cases relating to the main presentations and core topics covering key outcomes to aid with our learning. These cases are often covered by various specialists and in CBL groups. For each placement block, you are  also assigned an Educational supervisor who you meet three times during your placement-once at the beginning, halfway through and at the end for a sign off.

 

In Year 4, you will cover a wider range of specialities 

  • Women Child Family: 4 weeks covering obstetrics and gynaecology and 4 weeks covering paediatrics

  • PNO: Psychiatry (4 week placement), Neurology (3 weeks) and Ophthalmology (1 week placement)

  • CD2: covers Rheumatology, Orthopaedics, Dermatology, and Care of the Elderly (Geriatric Medicine)

 

This time, there are no supplementary lectures outside of introduction and consolidation weeks, but there is an opportunity for medics who want to undertake an Erasmus to do so.

Assessment: 

With each placement, there is a key number of CEXs (clinical examinations), CBDs  (case based discussions) and long cases to attain to be able to be signed off for that block using My Progress. These will be clarified before the start of the year with guidance from the medical school as well. Use a variety of healthcare professionals to support you from F1 doctors to SHOs to consultants! In addition, there are a number of practical skills to be signed off such as venepuncture, cannulation - to name a few. Most hubs have a clinical skills area so practice skills and then go onto wards and find nurses ask to assist them with any skills they have for the day, or let them know if there are any specific skills you need to do. They will let you know if they need anything doing!

 

In Year 3: the main form of assessments are progress tests, which is a three-hour exam consisting of a 140 SBAs (single best answers) - these  taken three times across the academic year with an average created from the two best scores. Plus, there are some longitudinal projects such as the oncology project, the GP portfolio, patient pathway and finally, an overall assessment of professionalism.

In Year 4: progress tests continue in a similar fashion and so does the placement portfolio. There may be subtle changes to the amount or proportion of CEXs and CBDs required to pass each placement and the skills required e.g. for the Obstetrics and gynaecology placement speculums and abdominal palpations are required. There are also some simulated skills which are signed off in tutorials during Clinical skills by tutors and medical professionals. The ISCEs are the practical exams scheduled nearer the end of the year 4. Often most students practice by preparing in groups and examining patients on placements.

SSCs: In Phase 2, you are expected to arrange your own SSCs which is a time to explore a speciality of medicine that is of interest to you. There is an option to chose a topic a medical professional has already proposed or to create a unique proposal. These could vary from audits to service evaluations to quality improvement projects to more! Some SSCs provide an opportunity to present them at conferences or even get published!

We hope that this has been informative. Interestingly, year 3 is a favourite year for most as there is an opportunity to strike a work life balance, as compared to previous years there is more time available in spite of assessments. It is worth using that time to explore nearby locations and have fun! Thank you to Josephine Acheampong for contributing the majority of the Phase 2 content! 

Please see below some recommended resources and top tips! Please press on any image to see a comment and links!

 
 
 

And finally, here are some top tips about Phase 2!

 Try to examine as many patients as possible with signs and get teaching from subject specialists e.g. if you are on a respiratory week, ask the respiratory physician to take you through a respiratory exam with one of the patients on the ward who has signs.

GO further by writing up this encounter as a Clinical examination (CEX) or Case based discussions (CBD) to solidify the learning opportunity.

 Find a group and work together either weekly or biweekly to practice examination, histories, and presentation. Make stations for each other and review them after. Get as much practice on placement examining patients and presenting this back to senior doctors as these mimics the environment in the exams and as a working professional.

“Organise your notes early on - specialties is often easier to navigate - ensure at a minimum you have causes, presentations, investigations and management for conditions. Look back at notes little and often to have spaced repetition and use resources to supplement your learning - you will get into a rhythm!”

"For SSCs, keep an eye out on placements for specialities you enjoy and get contact details ask about their availablities should they be willing to supervise you. If not possible, ask if they are aware of any other colleagues who would be able to supervise you. Speak to those in the years above if they did a project in an area of interest to you for their contacts or other available medical professionals. Make use of your personal tutor for their contact list"

And finally, here are some top tips about Phase 3!

Get your assessments done as soon as possible so you can focus on learning at placement

Try and spend the majority of your placement time shadowing the F1 in your team and learning the everyday jobs/expectations of the role. Of course go and engage with the more interesting aspects/opportunities of placement but make sure you have the F1 basics under your belt first

When choosing your elective, think about what you want to get out of your time and THEN choose where you want to go! Try not to just go somewhere because your friends are going. Electives can really open up opportunities for your future career if done correctly.

PHASE 3: YEAR 5

Structure:  Phase 3 is the final year of medical school! The main purpose of this year is to prepare you for being an F1. It’s made up of 3 main placements - Junior Student Assistantship(JSA), GP placement, Senior Student Assistantship (SSA). Each of these lasts for 8 weeks. Outside of this you have a few lecture weeks and projects to complete which are mainly during introduction and consolidation weeks.

 

Assessment: Assessments in final year continue as before in terms of progress tests and portfolio. You still have to do SLEs and to pass 2/ 3 of the progress tests. In addition to this you have to take the Situational Judgement Test - SJT (usually in December) and the PSA (normally around February time). The SJT is 50% of your FPAS (F1 application) scoring so it’s important to practice for this and do your best. Within the lecture weeks there are also mandatory sessions to attend and group projects to complete. 

SSCs: In final year you also have your elective to look forward to which is your SSC! This is an 8 week period where you can travel anywhere in the world and experience medicine in a different setting. You don’t have to go abroad and in fact if you don’t that can be a great CV builder for the future. This can be in any speciality and doesn’t need to be within a hospital either. As long as there is a healthcare element to it you can do anything - think broad - homeless shelter, artificial intelligence etc, just follow your interests.

Top Tips:

  • Get your assessments done as soon as possible so you can focus on learning at placement. 

  • Final year is the best time to practice all your skills. Although you already have them signed off, repeating common skills such as venepuncture, ABGs and cannulas, will really build your confidence for when you are an F1 on your own!

  • Try and spend the majority of your placement time shadowing the F1 in your team and learning the everyday jobs/expectations of the role. Of course go and engage with the more interesting aspects/opportunities of placement but make sure you have the F1 basics under your belt first. 

  • When choosing your elective, think about what you want to get out of your time and THEN choose where you want to go! Try not to just go somewhere because your friends are going. Electives can really open up opportunities for your future career if done correctly.

Massive thank you to Robyn Anderson for contributing the Phase 3 content! 

Final year is the best time to practice all your skills. Although you already have them signed off, repeating common skills such as venepuncture, ABGs and cannulas, will really build your confidence for when you are an F1 on your own!

Quick Links

Useful Links

© 2020 by ACMA Cardiff. All rights reserved 

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Linked In