It’s now almost two weeks since I was given my offer and I’m still really excited!

I’ve started scoping out the flats up north, and downloading medical apps and doing all kinds of fun things that aren’t actually relevant yet.

I really need to get started on my MSc project…We were supposed to start on it a few months ago, but, honestly it doesn’t really interest me that much anymore when I’ll be starting medicine in a few months!

And I need to make the most of my final few months at work and try and get all the experience I can.


GAMSAT essay section

I’m very aware that the next application round is gearing up, and people are preparing for their GAMSATs again. The essay section was the part that I did very well in, I managed to score a 75, so I thought I’d share one of my two horribly pretentious preparation essays.

I generally followed the format in the Griffith’s GAMSAT book with a couple of twists; I hope this can be of some help to new applicants:

Compared to the European tradition, does modern art have any value?

Modern art is a very divisive issue(I appreciate that there is more than one point of view); I will be discussing what value it has in relation to art in the European tradition(Brief essay plan).

For hundreds of years, when people talked of ‘art’ they meant a work crafted by a master. Who, himself, would have spent thousands of hours learning the skills necessary to become a leader in his field. Very often, these works would be of incredible beauty and have a huge intellectual depth. This is in contrast to much of modern art; how many hours, for example, would it take to learn how to ‘craft’ Tracey Emin’s disgusting bedroom? Similarly, if we look to another form of art, classical music; how much craftsmanship went into John Cage’s piece which is completely silent?(Brief sketch of point of view 1)

On the other hand, Immanuel Kant said that the value in art is found in the perception of the viewer; so, if at a personal level, one found John Cage’s blank pages deeply moving, through Kant’s eyes that would have some value. Alternatively, value may be found in the release of the artist who creates the work, no matter how little mastery of the craft they have.(Brief sketch of point of view 2)

I find myself siding with the view that art of the European tradition has significantly more value than modern art, however this is not to say that modern art has no value. (My point of view)

The subjectivity of modern art devalues it. It is impossible to tell if one is parodying the subject, or sincerely believes that what they have created is a work of art. For example, if an artist were to place two toilet rolls on top of each other, she would have every right to call it ‘modern art’. She could claim it represented the ‘delicate balance of good and evil in the world’, and who would anyone be to contradict her? This work could have taken a sum total of 10 seconds to complete, and the ‘artist’ may have watched a two minute Youtube video for inspiration. This is in contrast to Leonardo Da Vinci, who studied for many years, and even dissected cadavers to better understand the human form. Some of his works took months to complete, and to put his work in the same category as our toilet roll artist example above is obscene. (Support for my point of view i)

Furthermore, if we think of ‘art’, we think of something special, often unique. Contrastingly, if we look more closely at the Turner award winning artwork found in Tracy Emin’s bedroom, we find something that anyone of us could aspire to, and could quite feasibly achieve. We could not say the same of the quality found in Caravaggio’s ‘St Jerome’ though. Much modern art is simply too easy to create. (Support for my point of view ii)

In conclusion, while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many modern artists may find value in expressing their own art, art in the European tradition cannot but hold more value. Simply, art in the European tradition requires talent and hard work, modern art does not. (Summary: finding some merit in the opposing view at the same time as cementing your own point)

Still Waiting

University X have started giving offers for international students, but still nothing for us domestics. It’s been a really really really long time since my interview, I just want to know!

Work’s been challenging over the past few weeks, nothing to do with my colleagues, but we’ve had lots of bad outcomes.

I was at a particularly nasty one recently where a lot of things (outside of our team’s control) went wrong and that really affected me for a few days.

I want some good news!

Five minutes

Fractured Fables and Tachy Tales

A frazzled nurse puts down the bat phone while peering over perched glasses at her scribbles on a worn clipboard.

18 months old. Drowning. Full arrest. ETA five minutes .

As the team busily prepares drugs, warm fluids and double checks equipment, I look around at all of my colleagues – a well oiled machine. Nurses and doctors who are seasoned in dealing with the worst of human tragedies.

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A patient experience

On Sunday I’d had a lovely lunch at a restaurant with my sister, I walked her to the bus stop then started making my own way home.

Out of the blue my hands started getting pretty itchy, then my head got really itchy then I developed an urticarial rash on my arms and chest. I’ve had minor reactions to seafood before so I made my way to the chemist on the high street. I bought some chlorphenamine and asked the pharmacist’s advice, by this point my tongue had started swelling as well, and he recommended I go to the walk in centre a few minutes walk away. My tongue then started to cause me a speech impediment, so I went against the pharmacist’s advice and asked them to call an ambulance for me.

Two minutes later an EMT arrived and did some observations on me…my heart rate was 170 and my face was swelling, a paramedic in an ambulance arrived a couple of minutes behind the emt and immediately gave me some IV chlorphenamine which thankfully stopped my reaction progressing and eventually calmed it down.

I went to my hospital and thanks to a bit of friendly nepotism was seen and sorted within three hours and sent home with this

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This was a pretty scary experience and it does make me wonder whether I should limit myself in future. Epipens are only temporarily effective, what if I’m out on holiday in some Italian village or something. Hmm. Something to ponder.


I’m on the train to, as yet, my only medical school interview, and I’ve remembered everything 🙂 APART FROM MY BRAND NEW £200 SUIT.

It’s okay though, because it still has all the labels on,  I’ll just have to buy another new one in the morning and return this one.


So, I just got home from work and found this: Med interview email

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah! How exciting is that?!

So much to do! I need to read up on MMI, I need to get a haircut, I need to buy a new suit, I need to book my train and sort out my accommodation.

I’ve been waiting for this for FIVE YEARS and I’ve been offered an interview at my first attempt! So happy 🙂

Respiratory Distress in Infants

Building on my last post, I’ve found this youtube playlist of some short videos of infants in respiratory distress. From my year, so far(!), in Paeds ED, sepsis and respiratory problems have been the two most common medical reasons for admitting kids to PICU (ie the reasons why kids are big sick). And as winter comes round, there’ll be more and more bronchi kids

It’s really important to be able to recognise the seriously ill child, and if you can pick up on on these respiratory signs you’ll be doing pretty well. Before I add the links, just a quick point; we in the UK call the sucking in of various bits of the chest ‘recession’, but in the US they call it ‘retraction’.

So, here goes:

This is a really good example of ‘tracheal tug’; where there’s a big sucking in around the trachea. Really pronounced tracheal tug can be a sign of very severe respiratory distress. In adults with respiratory distress something you look for is someone who can’t speak in full sentences – this baby clearly cannot ‘speak’ in full sentences either.

In really small infants they ‘head bob’ because their neck extensor muscles are weaker than older kids.

This one’s particularly grim; it shows a small infant with horrendous sternal recession and tracheal tug. Sternal recession generally shows respiratory distress at a more advanced stage than intercostal and subcostal recession alone. These kids are often pretty sick. You can really hear the stridor as well

This video’s similarly unpleasant; it shows an older child with pretty much his whole chest sucking in (you can see this better at 00:14). This video appears to show the child being bagged.

None of these videos are particularly nice to watch, but they are very informative for any students doing paediatric placements.

And to make you feel better, here’s a video of a happy infant with puppies 🙂 


With all that goes on in A&E, cannulation doesn’t excite many people, but I find it really satisfying.


Knowing that your efforts in getting a cannula in can make a big difference is someone’s life is a very rewarding feeling. Just today, my patients have been able to have medications for life-threatening conditions and strong pain relief because they were successfully cannulated 🙂