Monday, February 28, 2011

Surgical Careers Open Day.

On Saturday (26/02) I went to Liverpool Medical School to attend their Surgical Careers Open Day and I must say it had the most depressing start ever! We had an ENT surgeon do a brief introduction about being a surgeon and the mood of the entire room just shot down through the floor. Essentially his view was in order to become a surgeon you MUST do a BMedSci and get lots of publications. And even if you do those things you won't get into your surgical specialty. I understand surgery is quite competitive but we all attend the surgical open day because we are excited about it honestly there is a less harsher way of putting reality into context. Instead of scaring our pants off and being a black about just introduce the steps and the possible downfalls that could happen along the way...instead of just hammering on about how difficult it is and that we can mess up our career if we don't show any sort of progress while doing a masters degree if we don't get into CST. Wayyyyy to start the morning off. Essentially from what I can tell the mood was grim.

We had talks from an ENT surgeon, paediatric surgeon, plastic surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon, and a transplant surgeon. Most interesting/well done presentation was done by the Orthopaedic surgeon as it was short and concise. It gave us a good overview of the career and what it involves. After the talk I talked to the Orthopaedic surgeon to ask him about his view on BMedSci and how recruiting works if you're an international student.

What I gather from our short conversation was that if you are not interested in doing a BMedSci do not force yourself into doing one. If you're interested - good do one! And there was a bit of a mention how some people are doing it just for the sake of getting brownie points for their application forms and what matters most is your pure interest in the specialty. He also mentioned about making your CV stand out. If you had to take all your friends' CV and compare it with yours - yours should stand out if you want to make it into surgery.

Now with international students it seems like we are not discriminated anymore for specialty selection. Once we have registered after foundation year (if that will even happen in the future) we will be placed on the same level as local students as we have gone through the UK medical education system. The tough part is just getting your Visa. I was pretty glad to find out that we will be treated like the local students as that evens the playing field a bit more. Shame nothing has really been released about the new immigration scheme as that will be the biggest obstacle.

Overall the careers day was alright. It wasn't anything special. Came home pretty much shattered due to the early wake up to catch the train to Liverpool. It was nice talking to the Orthopaedic surgeon though. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Sigh of Relief.

Today was quite a cheerful day...well minus the gloomy/ridiculous weather. Went to meet my supervisor for my research attachment at the Bone Metabolism Centre. My supervisor has lectured us quite a few times during our MSK unit, but I always had the impression of him being a quiet/awkward guy. After meeting him - wow...he is a really chill person. He was relaxed and it was quite fun to talk to him. He told my group and I (3 of us in total) what the project entails and what is expected from us and everything just seems really straight forward. Best thing I heard was that he knows that we should be studying for exams and will not be expecting us to do 9-5 every day. In fact, he only expects us to come in once in awhile and go to some seminars/lectures and maybe visit the gait lab to see the equipment used and what the volunteers will be put through. Super excited about this. He also said that it isn't an intense research attachment and all of us breathed a sigh of relief. We were really worried that we'll be really busy and won't have time to study.

I'm definitely looking forward to this attachment and hopefully I'll get my schedule soon. We are supposed to start tomorrow but when we were leaving our supervisor said: "See you next week!". So I assume we get the rest of the week off...or until we get our schedule! Exciting stuff. To be honest I'm not being lazy and stuff as I'm genuinely really excited for this attachment and it is one that I wanted to do, but it really got the best of two worlds. Equal balance of the attachment and as well giving me study time to concentrate for exams. Great stuff.

As well, before the meeting the medical school decided to add a new clinical skill session for our year - venepuncture. We got to draw blood on plastic arm models and it was really fun. Gave us a reminder that we are studying to become doctors. Sometimes you tend to forget due to all the preclinical lectures of all the basics - you lose sight of what you're studying and sometimes it is nice to get reminded from time to time that in a few months we'll be on the wards and in three years we'll be qualified! Still seems a bit surreal.

Today was a great day...shame the weather couldn't cooperate though!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

International vs. Local Debate.

So the other day I had quite an interesting debate with my fellow medical friends. Mind you this debate involved a mix of international and local medical students. With immigration laws changing and making an international student's life even harder, it leads to the question of how are international students studying at a UK medical school affected? Let me give you a quick overview as to what is the proposed change that COULD affect international medics. The government is planning to scrap the Post Study Work Scheme (Tier 1 visas). This apparently does not affect Foundation Year jobs, but apparently does affect international medics wanting to pursue a specialty in the NHS.

Not sure how true is this but someone please do correct me if this is not correct: all posts for specialties will be first filled by local students. Any postings with room left behind will be then filled with international students. In my eyes that sounds a bit unfair but my local friends have made a valid point that us "internationals" are stealing jobs away from the locals. However, what I do not understand is that it is such a shame that an international student who got an equal education to the local students at a UK university still has to be classified as an international. Obviously a bit biased here, but I would think it would be a lot more fair that when ALL medical students graduate (including internationals), everyone should be placed on an equal playing field. Received the same education, hence, should receive equal opportunity for specialty placements? Either way, quite a few internationals do end up leaving UK and return back home to work, but I feel that those who are left behind should be regarded equally and just as suitable for specialty postings. Again I'm not sure how true this is about locals getting more priority than internationals when competing for specialty posts, but I do get both sides of the story.

Next point which could be a bit controversial. Some locals I have spoken to are quite against universities accepting international students in general! Obviously baffled by this comment I do admit I did take it a bit personal even though I know I should not as it is just a fun debate. Anyways again I see why locals find internationals a bit of a nuisance. However, I feel that international students bring a lot of diversity to the UK. I know recently David Cameron said that "Multiculturism [in the UK] has failed", and with these changing immigration laws, studying in the UK doesn't seem as welcoming for international students as it is quite the challenge to get a job after your studies. I think without international students UK would lose its diversity and possibly higher education being less renowned. A major factor for me to come to the UK was for its renowned education system and that its top notch. Who knows down the line immigration is cut down so much that internationals just don't want to go to the UK as there are no job prospects, I think it could put a bit of a dent in the UK higher education's reputation. As well there was this whole other point about international fees vs. local fees which turned out quite heated but not really worth mentioning on the blog. I guess I may have poked a few too many buttons when I said that I like the system in the US where both local and international students pay the SAME fees. I think again it puts people on a more leveled playing field. Then another debate of being able to afford higher education, etc etc.

Where I stand is in the middle. International students bring a lot to the universities and certainly to the medical schools, however, it does threaten local students as we can take up posts that should be for local students. But I don't think it is fair to make it so difficult for a competent graduate (especially a medical student) to stay in the UK. As well, if international students are placed on a leveled playing field with local students when fighting for posts, I think it would create really good competition. Medical school shouldn't be a cruise along the river. It should be like back in school where you compete and do your absolute best to get into the universities you want to go to and study medicine! I feel that now there is hardly any competition and I think we need just a bit more. Competition can create more competent/excellent doctors as everyone will feel the need to work hard, take on extracurricular activities, etc.

What do you guys think about the changing immigration laws which could possibly put off possibly amazing future medical students? How do you think it will affect the UK/NHS? What is your view on the whole International vs. Local Student? Should there be more competition at medical school? Please post your comments below. :)