Once you start medical school, right from the beginning of Semester 1 you start to hear these terrible rumours about “Semester 3”. Now, I’m presuming this is pretty much across the board in different med schools, so bear that in mind. Hearing these little things from older students doesn’t place you on a good foot when starting it, but now that I’ve finished Semester 3 I thought I’d tell you all about it…
This blog post has been cooking for a while because I wanted to tell you all about my impressions of the dreaded “Semester 3” right from before I started it, to during and then after the exams; so that’s pretty much what I’m going to do in this post…
I was worried sick starting this Semester. I had heard the bad, the awful and the damn right UGLY. I mean, first year of med school wasn’t necessarily an easy ride, it required a lot of dedication, focus, self-discipline; so naturally, I was worrying about how something could be 10 times worse than that. At the very beginning of the Semester, we had an introductory lecture, where the sem lead tried to reassure us a little that it wouldn’t be too bad. He said, case 1 is kind of easy, and the rest are more intense. Then he went on to specifically describe Case 5 as a monster which honestly haunted me for the first 4 weeks of the semester!
So that’s a brief overview of my initial ideas. I had also heard that the Anatomy in this semester was also unmanagebale, which seemed plausible to me as my timetable showed we had an extra session every other week. Now, if you’re studying Medicine you’ll know that Anatomy is intense and always feels like a lot, so to have almost double the Anatomy in one semester is pretty worrying to say the least. Another thing that was a bit worrying for me was the fact that we have an OSCE in January, compared to first year where we only had to deal with OSCEs at the end of the year!
So these were very briefly my initial views prior to delving into all the neuroanatomy, psychiatry, movement disorders that this semester had in store for us. So, what do I actually think of it now…?
During the semester I have to actually say it was not bad. The PBL cases felt the same length as they had been in Year 1, yes the Anatomy had been turned up a notch, but it felt pretty okay at first. I was just about managing to get my notes done, but not having time to learn anything or revise – but that was no different to the previous 2 semesters. Case 1 was really nice and easy, Cases 2-4 were the usual length, Case 5 was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated and the remaining cases (6-10) were actually really nice and short so all seemed to be going well.
One thing I have to put out there is that the Anatomy is s little more work, but so much more interesting and there is no denying that. It’s not the level of difficulty that increases in this semester, but just the volume of work ever so slightly.
Again, with the Anatomy in the semester, I did find myself ending up with masses of notes, but I was still managing to get it done so it all seemed to be going okay for me. I’d sometimes fall behind on Anatomy/PBL notes (especially if I didn’t work as hard that weekend), but that’s the norm.
Another thing that I liked about this semester is the fact that everything seemed more organised and tied in really nicely alongside each other: the Anatomy complemented the PBL really well and with evry week you were kind of building up on the Neuroanatomy theory rather than learning about isolated concepts. Each case was very centred around a specific disese; Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease for example so that made it all the more engaging for me.
So we finished all the cases for the semester near in December and at this point I’m feeling quite okay as most of my notes are complete and I’ll just have to spend the Christmas break learning it all (which is exactly how it was for Year 1). And then it begins…
Once you start revising that’s when you begin to realise just how. much. more. you. have. to. do. Yes, like I mentioned above I felt that the workload was a little more, but trying to tackle *that* much Anatomy when I had it altogether in front of me was a challenge. Being completely honest, it was only over this revsion period that I began to realise the universe of knowldge we had actually gone through.
Having said that, it was just the Anatomy I felt were like that. The PBL cases seemed relatively short as they were just focussed around the conditions and didn’t really have any underlying complex physiology like the previous semester.
Quite simply put: I did not feel exams for semester 3 went well. They were definitely more diffcult and had a more applied element to them compared to the previous semesters’ ones. Already having that natural tendency to over-think after I sit an exam, I have to say these exams (both the OSCE and Semester Test) have me worrying like I have for no exams before!
Throughout this post I may have appeared to “affirm” the rumours, but I’m absolutely not. In fact I’m doing the opposite! The actual semester was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated or as the rumours had suggested. Yes it is more work, I’m not going to deny that, but it is definitely manageable. If you’re due to go into your 3rd semester, don’t dread it – it really is interesting and I guarantee you’ll enjoy more than you’ll find it difficult. It really is only during the exam and revision period that the stress kicks in a little, but overall Semester 3 is my favourite semester to date!