Tom, 2nd Year, Medicine

Hi I’m Tom and I’ve just finished my first year studying Medicine at Worcester. The course is split in to three main subjects; Organisation of the Body (OB), Biochemistry and Medical Genetics (Biochem) and Physiology and Pharmacology (Phys and Pharm/ P&P). The syllabus given to you by the Medical School outlines exactly what you’re expected to know for each subject, this can seem quite daunting to begin with but you’ll be amazed by how much of it you’ll be familiar with by the time you sit your exams.

All of the core elements from the syllabus are taught in lectures held either at the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre (MSTC) or in the Physiology department, both of which are around 15 minutes walk from Worcester. Lectures are, on the whole, really useful and the Lecturers’ notes are a valuable resource both for revision and writing essays. I’d therefore thoroughly recommend braving the 9am starts and making every effort to attend them. The Medical School organises a range of practical classes, some of which can be deadly boring while others are actually quite good fun. They usually relate to the topics you’re doing in lectures that week and can be useful in helping you to get your head round some of the key principles, they are also a good opportunity to meet medics from other colleges. Dissection classes are also held weekly throughout the first year, they include the study of cadavers in small groups, something which can seem really weird to begin with but eventually becomes strangely normal. These are followed by living anatomy classes where you can observe the surface anatomy learnt in the OB course on your fellow medical students. The combination of 2-3 lectures each day plus the compulsory practicals means that you’ll be in the medical school until around midday most days. This sits in stark contrast with the timetables of many of the arts students!

The afternoons are generally when tutorials (tutes) are held. You have three of these each week, one for each of the main subjects, and you’ll usually be expected to prepare an essay on the topic to be covered in that tutorial. John Parrington and Kim Dora are the tutors for Biochem and Phys & Pharm respectively and they hold their tutorials at Worcester. The other tutor, Joe Taylor, will teach you for the OB course and he holds his weekly tutorial in the Physiology department. All three tutors are really friendly and are only too keen to give you help and advice. Their tutorials can be a great opportunity to extend your knowledge beyond the core parts of the course with a particular focus upon the experiments that have led to our understanding of a process as well as its clinical relevance.

Overall, I’ve found the course challenging but incredibly interesting and enjoyable. Although there are lots of contact hours and plenty of hard work to be done, just a small amount of organisation can leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the non-academic side of Oxford!