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Two students observe a surgery
Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Typical weeks

Typical weeks


Two of our first year students write about their lectures, dissection classes and how they spend their free time while studying with us.


Azeezat Sanusi

Azeezat Sanusi


Monday lectures are mainly focused on the human body, including subjects like pathology, human physiology and anatomy. I find these very interesting as they relate to many things that I learned in my first degree in nursing. Having seen a lot of pathological conditions as a nurse, the lectures give me more understanding of these conditions at the microscopic level.

In the afternoon, we break into smaller groups for seminars. Today we have pathology, and we get to see different histology slides digitally and learn how to identify the pathological cell/tissue. These sessions also allow me to have more direct contact with the lecturers and to ask questions on any previous lectures that I didn’t understand too well.

In the evening, I go to the gym with my flatmates and enjoy dinner with them. Afterwards, we make some revision flashcards. It’s really nice living with fellow medical students as we can study together. My flatmates are biomedical science graduates and they help me a lot with any of the scientific topics I struggle with. 


Tuesdays are focused on the clinical and community practice module. In the morning, we have a clinical practice lecture on various topics like reflective practice, communication skills, conflict management and professionalism. I really enjoy this module because I can integrate many things that I have learnt from nursing. It has also made me better informed on how to initiate a patient consultation, take patient histories and understand the principles of patient-centred healthcare. We then break into small groups with our individual clinical practice facilitators and expand on the lecture topic.

In the afternoon we have clinical placements, which can vary from GP to a community placement. I’m with a local community nursing team, visiting patients in their home, where I get the chance to interact with a diabetic patient about their insulin management. We can also have workshops such as inclusion and exclusion, family study and history taking.

In the evening, I go shopping in town with my best friend, then we go to her place for dinner. 


In the morning, we have a group meeting with our individual academic tutors – sometimes these are individualised so that we can personally discuss our individual academic progress and challenges.These meetings help us with scientific essay writing, numeracy and presentation skills. I do a presentation on the treatment and management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease (COPD) to my tutor group.

Researching on this topic has made me more informed on the latest research on COPD management and presenting helps my confidence in public speaking.

Despite our busy workload, BSMS believes that it is vital for us to engage in social activities outside of study, so we have Wednesday afternoons off for extra curricularactivities. I go for a run with friends, then go to the gym.

I spend the evening relaxing and going through my dissection room (DR) notes for the session the next day. 


In the morning, we have a symposium on health and disease. Symposiums are like long lectures where we get to discuss various topics in greater depth, and sometimes patients are invited to talk to us about their condition and management. Today’s is on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), and we have the opportunity to meet a few patients living with CLL and ask them personal questions regarding the condition.

At lunch I have a quick anatomy quiz with my friends in preparation for the DR. BSMS was one of my top choice medical schools because of their early patient contact programme and the dissection component of anatomy learning. The DR sessions allow us to visualise everything we learn in the anatomy lectures on a real human body and thereby help us to understand our notes in greater depth. I am ever so thankful to the amazing people who have donated their bodies for our learning. 

On Thursday evening, I go to yoga. At BSMS, you can join many societies, activities and sports at both universities. I’m a member of the Afro Caribbean society, the Islamic society, women’s rugby, dance society, table tennis society and the feminist society.


Finally, the last day of the week! We have a mix of lectures including one on the psychology of aging.

In the afternoon, I have a practical session on microbiology, where we stain different bacteria and assess their morphology. As a nurse, I took blood cultures from patients and sent them to microbiology, but I never knew much about how the actual blood culture is done in the lab and how antibiotics sensitivity is identified. The microbiology session has enlightened me on these!

In the evening I head out for dinner with friends. 


Ashley Chukwu


Ashley Chukwu in the dissection room (DR), a group of students behind her


Mondays are usually the busiest day of the week, and we start off with lectures based on the human body. It’s nice to begin with the week’s scientific focus, because we can link it to subsequent lectures throughout the rest of the week, and to practicals in the laboratories or dissection sessions. The lecture content can vary from anatomy to pathology or physiology, which I find particularly interesting.

Later in the day we break into smaller groups for our module tutorials. I really look forward to these sessions because we get to discuss previous lectures extensively and sometimes we have group quizzes where the best group receives a prize!

After a long day, I enjoy a nice dinner with my flatmates. We do some revision afterwards – living with your fellow medical students is great as we can study and make our way to classes together.


Tuesdays tend to focus solely on clinical practice (CP). In the morning we have a CP lecture on the importance of reflection and how best we should communicate with patients. We learn the step-by-step processes to initiate a consultation session with patients, signs to look out for and how to respond in certain situations. These sessions help me to be better informed and confident when dealing with patients and other healthcare professionals, vital skills in a patient-centred healthcare system.

Later, we break into small seminar groups and get to expand on these topics with our clinical facilitators. Sometimes we engage in role plays while we work through case studies, and it’s a good opportunity to learn from the other students. I particularly enjoy these sessions because my clinical facilitator always finds a way to break the ice before the sessions start.

During the afternoon sessions, we have clinical placements, workshops or our personal study time. Today, I have a workshop that teaches us how to take a patient’s medical history.  

Workshops are very helpful because we are trained in the clinical skills we will need as a doctor. Later in the day, I visit my friends who live on the other campus, and we chill and watch a movie together.


In the morning, we have group meetings with our academic tutors and today we’re learning about, how to organise our presentations for later in the term. My presentation is on‘ the nudge theory’, which I had no previous idea about, but it’s good to practise with other students and present it to my group – it’s another way to learn.

Despite our busy workload, it is important for us to engage in social activities outside school, which is why we have a free afternoon to do sports or clubs. My football practice isn’t until Thursday so I go to the library and prepare my notes for the dissection room (DR) session tomorrow. I like to keep my Wednesday nights free so I can relax and cook a nice meal. 


The day I’ve been waiting for. In the morning we have a symposium on health and disease. Symposiums are similar to lectures but we discuss topics in greater depth. Sometimes, we have patients come talk to us or we work through case studies. This usually ends at midday, leaving us with enough time to have lunch and prepare for the DR session later in the afternoon.

One of the many reasons I chose BSMS was because of the dissection sessions and early patient contact. The DR sessions allow us to visualise all that we have learnt so far, thereby helping us to understand our notes in greater depth. And as corny as this sounds, the dissection sessions make me embrace life as well as death. There is so much support from the anatomy staff, it’s a warm environment and everyone is ready to learn.

Later I have football and it’s nice to unwind after a hectic day. I love football, especially at BSMS, because I get to spend time with other medical students. We have an upcoming friendly match against another team and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s always something to do here.

As a medical student you can join any of the societies, activities and sports at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex – this includes lots of the less conventional activities and sports – I’m thinking of joining a fencing team.


The weekend is finally nearly here. Lectures usually start at 11 on a Friday, and today I have a lecture on the learning and development of infants and one on pathology. During lunch break, I have a Christian Medical Fellowship meeting – it’s a nice chance to meet people from different years and take a break from academic work. We talk about purpose and this leads to a lot of reflection, a skill which is necessary for doctors. I have a free afternoon because the second group has their dissection session so my weekend starts early.

Friday evening I head out with my friends to watcha movie. Starting at medical school was a lot to take in at first, but support from the other students has really helped me settle in quickly. There is a lot of work to do so I’ll try to organise my time over the weekend, recapping on the week’s lectures and preparing for the coming week, and leaving myself with free time for fun.

Year 1 timetable*

(A typical week)


Monday am and pm: Lectures and seminars

Tuesday am: Clinical practice lecture
Tuesday pm: Small group work with clinical practice facilitators OR primary care placement/secondary care placement/clinical skills OR Workshop/personal study

Wednesday am: Academic Skills/Student-Selected Component (at the universities,hospital or other venues) 
Wednesday pm: Free time for study and/or extra curricular activities such as sport 

Thursday am: Symposium, eg, patients come in to discuss how they have been affected by their condition and/or facilitated breakout sessions

Thursday pm: Practical class: the dissecting room 

Friday am: Lectures
Friday pm: Pracical class, the laboratory

*Draft timetable for 2021


Two students write about a typical week in Year 3.


Ollie Pentz

Ollie Pentz in hospital corridor


This week I’m on placement in the Royal Sussex County Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit (AMU). At 8am I join the ward round led by the consultant, with a few F1s and me in tow. We discuss each patient beforehand and I get the patients’ drug charts and notes before we see them. Sometimes the doctors let me write a few things in the notes (under heavy supervision) or take a medical history from the patient. We finish at about midday and I go home for lunch, which like lots of third years, is just across the road from the hospital.

In the afternoon, I am attached to the on-call team. We attend medical emergencies which I observe and, when things aren’t as chaotic, I take histories from interesting patients.

When that finishes at around 6pm, I head to the MedSoc Committee meeting. I’m Vice-President this year so I help oversee the running of meetings where we discuss all things concerning socials, societies and sports teams at BSMS.


Like Monday, I start the day with a ward round, but in the afternoon, I go to a respiratory out patients clinic instead. For each patient the consultant explains what they have come in for and goes through the underlying medicine behind their condition. The quality of teaching is great as you have one-on-one time with the doctor.

In the evening I read online about the medical problems I encountered during the clinic and try to learn all the important information.


I meet some of my friends for coffee before our only full day of lectures. These typically start at 9am which is sadly a late start by third year standards! We learn about the scientific basis of medicine, clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, as well as general clinical practice. It’s nice to see the rest of my year as during the rest of the week we are spread out across the different hospitals and specialties in the trust.

In the evening I go to a special Emergency Medicine Society event. It’s a training session in virtual reality where you manage an acutely ill patient using the headset and controllers. BSMS are always looking for the most up-to-date and effective ways of teaching so it is very exciting to try this out and see what’s next for medical education.

I then get a lift from a friend up to Brighton campus where I have a game for the BSMS men’s football team, of which I am one of the captains. The team plays twice a week and is funded by the medical school, and players are BSMS students from first to fifth year.


I have Thursday morning off this week! I usually spend my mornings off catching up on sleep from all the early starts during the week, doing admin for my different society roles or just playing video games to relax.

In the afternoon we have module teaching. I’m on the general medicine rotation, which means I have lectures on different conditions patients come in with and the associated pharmacology. How we’re taught in third year is very different compared with first and second year because it’s very much based on what you will be seeing on your placements. This makes all the teaching relevant to you and comes in handy straight away.


This morning I have a session with my Clinical Fellow. These fortnightly sessions involve the Clinical Fellow teaching you about whatever you want. It’s invaluable learning as you can fill holes in your knowledge and go over specific skills before trying them on patients. We have afew more lectures in the afternoon – this week we have one on medical ethics. It’s interesting because our lectures are not just about diseases and how to cure them, but also include social, ethical and practical issues that are relevant to medicine.

Once the lectures are over, I go home and make some dinner, then have a writing session for the Medic Revue. It’s a yearly comedy show which is part of the Brighton Fringe festival in May, and is entirely written, acted and produced by BSMS students. I meet with the committee twice a week to work on the script.

Afterwards, I go to football training and then finish the week off with a MedSoc social at one of Brighton’s many clubs. 


Dan Heritage

Dan Heritage


My first rotation in Year 3 is vascular surgery, so I’m placed with a vascular consultant and his team. First thing, I attend a vascular multidisciplinary team meeting, where consultants and registrars of different specialties discuss the best treatment for their patients. I get to see that even though a patient may be in the vascular surgery ward, it takes doctors of many specialties to fully care for the patient and it really is a team effort.

In the afternoon, I am at an outpatient clinic with one of the vascular registrars. I get to observe how he takes specific histories focused on vascular problems and see him perform examinations. I also get to practise history taking and examination on patients, under the guidance of the registrar.

Between patient appointments, the registrar quizzes me on anatomy using a CT scan. He gets me to point out the abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) on the scan, from the patientin whose abdomen I have just previously felt a pulsatile mass. This is an excellent way to learn – not only did I find the AAA on examination, but I am then able to see it on the CT scan, which helps me to remember it down the line. In the evening, I head off to tutor an A-level student in chemistry. I really enjoy teaching, plus teaching chemistry helps me with my pharmacology lectures! 


I wake up early and make my way to theatre, getting changed into scrubs and ready before the operations start. My partner and I make our way to the pre-operative area to clerk a patient before surgery. We read their notes, take a history and examination, then present it to the consultant when he makes his way around to us. The patient has a femoral pseudoaneurysm (a small hole in their femoral artery), which is being repaired that morning and I have been chosen to scrub into the surgery to assist. As the patient is being anaesthetised, a nurse observes me properly scrubbing in and helps to put on my sterile gown and gloves. 

Assisting in theatre is a great way to learn – you can see the anatomy from dissection in the first two years come to life, plus you gain experience of what life is like as a surgeon. The atmosphere is much friendlier than they portray in the movies, there is music playing and the staff are all very approachable and friendly.

After my day in surgery, I have dinner with my housemates then head to BSMS hockey with some friends.


Wednesdays and Fridays are the days that we still have lectures. After an introduction to vaccinology, and another lecture on host genetics and infectious disease, I go up to the café to grab a coffee and have a quick chat with some friends. Later we round off the day of lectures with a talk on consultation skills. I make the short walk back to my house and prepare for a presentation I have tomorrow at the student led seminar. I have chosen to talk about the methods of access for renal dialysis. I’m excited to present but I want to make sure I am fully prepared! After some preparation, I head to the gym to take my mind off medicine.


Thursday is another early morning start at the hospital. I make my way to the vascular ward to join the morning ward round. These are very useful, as you have to quickly read patient notes and be ready to present the information back to the consultant. You get to learn very quickly about the shorthand that doctors use in notes and get used to compressing lots of information down into a few sentences. We get to the patient with the repaired pseudoaneurysm that I helped with yesterday. One of the junior doctors says that he has been well overnight, and the swelling in his groin from the pseudoaneurysm has gone down, which is good news.

In the afternoon I have my presentation. It’s in a small group of about 15 students and a registrar and it’s a friendly atmosphere. My presentation goes well, and after the registrar writes some feedback for me, I sit back and listen to my friends’ presentations. In the evening I head out with a few friends. 


This Friday morning we have a change from the usual lecture schedule. At 11am I am at a suturing skills practical class, where are taught suturing – surgical knot tying with hands and instruments. This will come in handy when I assist in theatre again. These practical classes are very informal and friendly, and it’s good to catch up with friends.

In the afternoon we have two lectures, then I head to the gym to reflect on my week. It’s a short session this afternoon because I am heading to Southampton to visit my girlfriend.

Year 3 timetable*

(A typical week)

Monday am and pm: Lectures

Tuesday am and pm: Clinical rotations

Wednesday am and pm: Clinical rotations

Thursday am and pm: Clinical rotations

Friday am and pm: Clinical rotations

*Draft timetable for 2021


Two of our fifth year students write about a typical week.


Mohamed Mansoor

Mohamed Mansoor standing in front of an ambulance


I’m currently on a four-week placement in A&E at the Royal Sussex County Hospital – it’s a hectic but exciting environment. Morning sessions begin at 8.30am, and we start the week having a discussion with our clinical teaching fellow about what each of us needs to complete this week, which might include clerking patients, practising our examinations or the blue skills book. The blue skills book is a GMC requirement that includes all the skills we are required to have completed by the end of fifth year, so everyone is always eager to finish that as soon as possible.

We then split up into two groups and either follow along with the teaching fellow presenting cases or go to resus and observe or help out in minors. Today I’m clerking patients, which is always good practice, and I manage to see some interesting cases surrounding a typical presentations of a heart attack and shoulder dislocations.

In the evening I go to the library to look up all the cases I’ve seen during the day as I’ve found that to be the best way to learn.


We have our whole group seminars in the morning. Each week is a different specialty, and a few students present cases they have seen that past week and teach a little. I present a case on rheumatoid arthritis. We then have two lectures on the diagnosis and management of certain conditions. Today is all about patients presenting with breathing problems and all the different ways this can manifest from a pulmonary embolism to pneumonia. It’s a good day to see everyone who is in your rotation group and to catch up with friends.

The afternoon is free and I use that time to get on with my study.

In the evening I unwind and have dinner with my flatmates. 


Our teaching fellow has a plan to teach us about different wound closures, which is a skill we need to get signed off for on this placement. We spend a few hours learning the different methods of closing wounds including stitches, steristrips and glue and how to administer local anaesthetic. This seems quite daunting at first but the teaching fellow shows us a neat trick that made it quite easy. Over in minors we meet a woman with a wound on her knee – I’m able to practise my new wound closure skills stitching this up.

In the evening, I have rugby training— I’ve been playing for BSMS since I was in first year and would recommend joining a medical school sports team. It’s been a great way for me to make friends, stay fit and above all is very relaxed and fits around a medic’s lifestyle.


As part of our A&E placement, we spend a few shifts with the ambulance crew. It’s an early start today, as the shift starts at 6.30. I join a crew for the day, going outwith an ambulance, observing what the paramedics do and how they respond to calls. Although we’re not expected to do anything, when you can lend a helping hand, especially during a cardiac arrest call, it’s always welcome. We attend five calls in my eight-hour shift ranging from the elderly with breathing problems to transporting among the hospitals to cardiac arrest calls. It is a tiring but amazing experience! It really helps to get a joined-up view of the patient journey, and to see first-hand what takes place before people get to A&E.

I’m shattered after my early start so take it easy in the evening.


I spend my morning improving my blood-taking and cannulation skills. As junior doctors we will be expected to do these things at times and you can never be too good! Luckily A&E is the perfect place to practise these skills. I also work on improving my prescribing skills. The medical school has given us a list of drugs we need to prescribe so it’s a good chance to use these in a clinical environment.

In the evening I head into Brighton with friends to see a show at the comedy club Komedia. As an international student (from Canada), I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Brighton has all the charm of a small town but the variety of a big city.


Ali Al-Sakban

Ali Al Sakban


I’m on placement in elderly medicine at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill. At 8am I join in on a ward round for any new patients on the wards and people who are on their first post-operative day.

I take a full history and examination of the new patients and then present a summary to the consultant. Following this, the consultant reviews the patients and finalises the notes. At 9am we have a ‘huddle’, where the new patients are quickly discussed with the rest of the team and then the doctors and I are divided into groups to cover different bays in the ward for the morning ward round.

During the ward round, the doctor and I take turns in writing the notes, talking to and examining the patients. This is always useful as it allows me to see and actively get involved in all elements of the ward round. At 11.30 we conduct a multidisciplinary team (MDT) handover involving the doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

After lunch with my friends in the hospital accommodation, I assist the doctors with jobs which accumulated during the ward round, such as taking bloods, reviewing medication, chasing results and referrals to other departments or services.

In the evening, I attend an orthopaedic teaching session, then wind down by ending my day with a gym session.


Tuesday on my ward is similar to Monday with an 8am start where I clerk patients, a huddle at 9am followed by the ward round and finally an MDT handover at 11.30. As a medical student it’s really important to realise the role of other members of the team and not just doctors. Every member is involved in the care of the patient and this is demonstrated brilliantly while sitting in on the handover.

I attend an additional Foundation Year 1 teaching session at lunchtime – this typically consists of lecture-based teaching on various topics and cases facing junior doctors. I spend my afternoon back in the ward, helping the doctors and improving my clinical skills such as venepunctures. It is interesting to seehow calm and relaxed most of the afternoons can be. Despite working in a busy environment, the staff are able to work together well and are very supportive of each other. As an F1, I will undoubtedly tap into these moments to remind myself of what a good team looks like.

Later on junior doctors provide us with extra teaching on different topics around our curriculum. In the evening, I go to the library to go over the notes I’ve made since Monday and study around the topics I come across.


It’s a similar pattern of work to Monday and Tuesday. This placement has allowed me to get a feel of what it really is like as a doctor. We hear and see a lot of the acute and thrilling cases on television but in reality, a lot of what doctors do is reviewing the patients on the wards and ensuring everyone is being cared for properly and no one is deteriorating.

Every Wednesday there is a Care of the Elderly meeting where there are lectures on different elderly medicine cases and recent research. There is also free lunch, but I definitely only go for the academic substance!

In the evening I have my dinner with friends and then go to the library to study and update my portfolio book, which is like a diary that we are required to regularly update on things we have seen or done.


Thursdays tend to be more of a relaxed day because we have our seminars at 9.30 am, which is classed as a late start! During these seminars we sit in on core curricular lectures followed by student presentations led by our peers. This week I present a lecture on neck of femur fractures in elderly patients. It goes really well and I receive good feedback from the clinical fellow who is marking the presentation.

In the early afternoon, there is a Medical Grand Round, where the junior doctors present random cases to all medical staff in a large lecture room. This is a good time to sit and have lunch, as it is quite informal. I find this part of the day enjoyable because the cases that are presented are often interesting and rare.

In the evening there is a radiology teaching led by the radiology registrar, showing us how to interpret and present different imaging modalities – this kind of extra teaching is always appreciated.


Usually on a Friday I would do the ward round and then a consultant-led clinic in the afternoon where we see outpatients. However, this week I have clinical skills teaching, led by the BSMS skills team at the Audrey Emerton building. The day consists of learning different skills including prescribing, venepuncture, IV fluids and antibiotic administrations. This is always a very enjoyable and useful day which helps us perfect our clinical skills in a calm and safe environment where mistakes are a lot more tolerated.

In the evening I take a break and don’t do any revision, but instead make my way up to London to see my family and catch up with friends during the weekend. 

Year 5 timetable *

(A typical week)

Monday am and pm: Clinical attachment, including ward rounds, clinics, lectures and seminars, clinical skills teaching

Tuesday am and pm: Clinical attachment

Wednesday am and pm: Clinical attachment

Thursday am: Seminars
Thursday pm: Clinical attachment

Friday am and pm: Clinical attachment

*Draft timetable for 2021