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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Third year perspectives

BSMS > Undergraduate > What our students say > Our students > Third year perspectives

Third year perspectives

Select a student from the menu on the left to find out their thoughts on studying with us.
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Elizabeth Aloof

Studying medicine with dyslexia and a disability at BSMS

I have a chronic pain disorder, dyslexia and prosopagnosia, which means I struggle to recognise faces.  

Applying to medicine  

I was very worried about going into medicine. There wasn’t much representation of people with disabilities becoming doctors. I was worried about whether I would be able to keep up with being on the wards, or if I would be able to do night shifts because my evening medications make me very drowsy. A lot was running through my head and, looking back, it definitely affected my confidence, both in the decision and application process.  

It wasn’t until I went to an open day at BSMS (as I am from Brighton and my college suggested it) that I truly decided I wanted to go into medicine. I spoke to a third year at the time (who I now have seen on the wards as a Foundation Doctor) who told me about their experience. They knew a lot of medical students with physical disabilities, mental health problems and learning difficulties. They told me about Student Support at BSMS and about how more than 90% of the year will speak to them at least once by the end of year one. They also outlined that 25% of students have a physical disability or learning difficulty. Everyone was really nice on the open day, which really help me push past my worries and apply. 

Studying in first and second year

I was 18 when I started medical school. Due to me doing well in my classes, I had normalised my difficulty reading and communicating for so long because my teachers had brushed it off. At BSMS, however, they have a questionnaire that screens all the First Years which flagged up that I may have a learning problem. BSMS then paid for me to have a professional assessment which found that I have a learning disorder and Irlen Syndrome. The school supported me so much and gave me a Learning Support Plan (LSP). All my exams were done in a small room and I was offered rest breaks, extra time and for my exams on to be printed on blue paper. They also gave me a learning disorder tutor who helped me with things like essays and reading. My essays also have a special stamp that tells the examiner that I am more likely to make grammar mistakes and to therefore have a different threshold for marking. Also, if I am struggling I can apply for an extended deadline for my submissions. Although I have only used this a few times, knowing that it is there as a safety net has really helped me to deal with the stress I usually feel with essays. They also offered other support, such as a laptop with special software, like spell check, that looks for common dyslexic mistakes typical spell check doesn’t find. After I finally received all the support from BSMS, my exam and essay grades shot up and I was finally keeping up with my peers in class for the first time ever. I also found that with the rest breaks, I could walk to the toilets and stretch. This made my chronic pain a lot better, which is amazing because it nearly always flares up from exam stress. 

Being on the wards 

Although I had already been on the wards in year one and year two, because of BSMS’ early exposure, third year onwards is when you are mostly ward-based. Due to this, at the end of year two I became worried and spoke to Student Support. I was worried about traveling to the hospital with my chronic pain, which worsens on public transport, and I was worried about getting lost in the hospital while following a consultant because of my prosopagnosia. What the school did is they organised with the people in charge of third year placements for me to be put on placements with my boyfriend who is in the same year as me. He is able to drive me to the hospital and is one of the few people I am able to recognise. When I started year three my worries melted away because having my partner there with me who understood my health problems made me feel a lot more comfortable and confident about learning on the wards. I also know about other people with chronic health conditions who have had friends with them on rotations and have found it to be really useful.  

What would I say to my past self?

If I could talk to the old me who was considering applying to medical then I would say to do it. The application into medical school is really daunting, even for people without other things to think about, but don’t let your health or learning problems stop you from applying. BSMS gave me so much support. I haven’t failed a single exam or essay, and I know plenty of people without health or learning problems who have. At the end of the day if you work hard it is very much possible. I met a year 9 through BrightMed who was planning to drop out because of her dyslexia, but if you can get good grades in your GCSEs and A-Levels, then you can make it into medical school and succeed. 

I would also tell myself to not be too hard on myself about accepting support. When I first started getting support and was suddenly doing better, it almost felt like I was cheating. I was very reluctant to take up the medical school on their offers because it felt like I was getting an unfair advantage. But one thing that student support told me while reassuring me on the issue, is that LSPs are only given to level the playing field. They are helping you to keep up with other medical students without learning or health problems. Extra time in an exam means nothing if you don’t know the answers, so if it helps you get better grades, it means that you need it. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and to use the support that is offered to you. 

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Shreya Badhrinarayanan

"As an international student, the encouraging and friendly atmosphere of both the medical school and the city of Brighton really eased the process of settling in. Both universities also offer extensive networks of support for international students.

"I loved how welcoming BSMS was to me, so I wanted to share that warmth by leading the International Student’s Society this year and hosting dinners for international and non-international students alike." 

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Wuraola Obadahun

"Having been exposed to the clinical environment from as early as our first year, talking to patients and practicing our history-taking skills, it wasn’t such a shock when I started my third year.

"Although the first two years were pre-clinical, it helped that we also had GP placements and spent some afternoons at hospital placements meaning we could start applying what was being taught in the scientific and clinical modules. It was like being given a head-start with the necessary foundation to build upon in the following clinical years." 

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Joanna Tung

joanna tung

What it’s like studying at BSMS?

BSMS is a relaxed yet ambitious and supportive environment; with small year groups and close relationships with the teaching staff, I like the fact I always know who I can turn to. The small cohort makes the course a lot more personalised than other large medical schools. I settled in almost immediately into BSMS, and think this is the reason why.

What do you like about the course?

I like the early integration with clinical skills - from year one, this keeps me inspired and thoughtful of medicine as a career, rather than just the academic medicine studying and passing exams. The placements are well organised and offer students the ability to have patient contact on almost a weekly basis.

How do you think the early clinical contact and dissection helps you in your learning?

The clinical days tend to be my favourite of the week, with such a great opportunity to start talking to patients, taking histories, and learning medicine outside of the syllabus. The dissection has been crucial to learning anatomy so far. It's been a highlight in my studying at BSMS so far, and I can't imagine trying to learn large volumes of anatomy from text books alone. 

What does Brighton have to offer as a place to live and study?

I have been living in Kemptown since moving to Brighton, and have loved Brighton as a city. It has so much to offer, and I have easily discovered the areas I like. There are amazing boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and we're so lucky to be close to both the seafront and the South downs!

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Chloe Knox

Chloe Knox Brighton seafront

"I chose the medical school because I was very impressed by the high student satisfaction rate. I also thought there would be advantages to being part of two universities (both Brighton and Sussex) and being able to use their facilities.

"In terms of the course, I was motivated by having patient contact from the very beginning and being able to do participate in cadaveric dissection. Also, Brighton is a lively city with plenty going on, so I was excited to live and study there!

"The best part of studying at BSMS has been the integration of clinical practice and practical skills. This has allowed me to ground my learning in a clinical context, and prepare me for the realities of being a doctor.

"With such a long and demanding course, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the ever-growing 'to do' list. There will always be some deadlines that you have to keep up with, but it is also important to learn when to take a night off. I have learnt the importance of getting involved in regular extra-curricular activities to keep things in perspective and also reflection and refreshment outside of study.

"The first year comprises three 10-week terms. Generally, there are about 8-10 single hour lectures each week, along with a 3-hour symposium on a clinical condition, a 3-hour dissection session and perhaps a tutorial. Tuesday is allocated to clinical teaching, and involves a morning lecture, followed by a group tutorial. The afternoon is spent in clinical skills teaching or at a primary or secondary care clinical placement. Wednesday mornings are usually spent undertaking your student-selected component (SSC) which allows you to explore a chosen topic in more depth in a small group. Wednesday afternoons are allocated to sports or personal study.

"The course has a more traditional lecture-based approach. However, aside from core lectures, most Year 1 teaching occurs in small group tutorials, dissection sessions, clinical skills practicals, laboratory sessions and interactive imaging classes. The course is systems-based, incorporating both biomedical and psychosocial science in a “spiral” model, so that you continually revisit topics, adding more detail or a different perspective each time. 3 hours are allocated to dissection weekly. The sessions involve working in small groups, with integration of clinically relevant prosections to provide further learning opportunities. 

"In first year, about a quarter of the teaching is clinically based, including placements in primary and secondary care. Clinical skills teaching sessions allow you to develop skills of taking histories, examining patients and communicating effectively in a simulated environment. Further opportunity for patient contact is afforded by regular meetings with a family with a new baby in the first year, and a longitudinal clerkship following a patient with dementia in the second and third years. Daily patient contact begins in third year and continues throughout the remainder of the course.

"There is plenty of time for extra-curricular activities with effective time management. I am a Student Ambassador, a near-peer teacher for the Association for Medical Education and Clinical Skills and am on the committee for the Student Anatomy Society. Additionally, I have written articles for the Student BMJ and have worked with the ”Teddybear Hospital” scheme in which we visit local primary schools, and teach the children about the job of a doctor.

"Don’t try to portray yourself as something you’re not. Admissions tutors are looking for someone who has the potential to be a great doctor, not someone who already perfectly polished. It’s also important to be aware of topical issues relating to medicine, to prove that you have considered the realities of life as a doctor and demonstrate your commitment to what will be a challenging, but very rewarding journey.

"There are a wealth of things to do in Brighton including restaurants, clubs and cultural sights, like the Royal Pavilion. The Fringe Festival is an annual event which has a number of events around Brighton in May and June and is always worth a visit!"

*This interview was previously featured in the Student BMJ journal.

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Patrick Tano 

Patrick Tano

"BSMS has a real sense of community – you get to know everyone in your cohort by halfway through first year." 

Why did you choose BSMS?

At the BSMS open day, I liked how small the years are compared with most other medical schools as it allows a greater sense of community within the years. I also liked the idea of integrated learning rather than problem based – I thought this would work better for me. 

What are the best things about BSMS?

One of the best things about BSMS is the full body cadaveric dissection, which is something that you get introduced to early in first year. At first it was a very weird experience, but after a couple of sessions it becomes routine and a great learning tool. Another great thing is the sense of community – you get to know everyone in your cohort by halfway through first year.  

Is the early clinical contact helpful?

It's very helpful as it gets you in the mind set of how to speak to patients early. Speaking to people is something we all do on a regular basis but speaking to patients has a different dynamic and the early clinical contact gets you accustomed to this. Also many people learn best by doing, so being able to take a history or examine a patient ourselves consolidates what we are taught in lectures and helps us to practise and refine our history taking and examination skills from early on. 

What about the dissection sessions?

The dissection sessions are very useful for learning anatomy as they allow you to understand the 3D arrangements of the structures while nurturing the surgical skills you may or may not have. Being able to see different bodies too and how structures may vary from person to person helps you understand anatomical variation between people. Also some of the cadavers have certain pathologies which may be relevant to the module and these give an idea of what physical effect pathology may have on the body and organs.  

What kind of extra curricular activities are available?

There is a vast amount of extra curricular activities to get involved in as part of the medical school or the Universities of Brighton and Sussex Student Unions. These range from Anatomy society to Baking society and everything in between. I’m part of the rugby and hockey teams and also part of CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship).

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Imraan Mansoor 

imran mansoor 1

"I am really impressed by the closeness and support coming from the medical school. The classes are done very well and the dissection sessions are absolutely amazing. I am very glad that I chose to come to BSMS and couldn't imagine going elsewhere. 

"The city of Brighton is very exciting with tons of amazing restaurants. I highly recommend BSMS to any international students."

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Eunice Lee

Eunice Lee

"I really liked the course structure at BSMS. I had few things that I was particularly looking for in a medical degree course such as full body dissection, integrated lecture style and early clinical experience, and BSMS was just perfect.

"The course content included everything I was looking for to become a good, qualified doctor." 

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Abigail Jamieson

Abigail Jamieson 
"The clinical experience from week one is incredible. It not only reminded me why I went into medicine in the first place but also set me up fantastically for Phase 2.

"I now love being on the wards; talking to patients while learning hands on how to carry out different procedures is the most rewarding way to learn."