For anyone who’s stumbled upon my blog for the first time, hello! I’m Faith, a medical student who’s just completed her second year in NUS YLLSoM. This is part 2 of my “Life as a Medical Student” series; you can check out the 1st part here.
I’m not even sure if anyone still reads this blog, but in the event that any junior (or anyone, really) is wondering what life as a 2nd year med student in NUS Medicine/YLLSoM is like, hopefully this post will be informative. I hope I’m posting this in time for uni applications, so y’all can get a better understanding of what life in YLLSoM is like.
So…M2 is the last pre-clinical year before you’ll start hospital postings in your clinical years, which span from M3-M5 (1st years are M1s, 2nd years are M2’s and so on). The academic year starts in mid-August and ends in early March, after which there will be a month-long hospital attachment (Clinical Skills Foundation Programme), but more on that later.
This is the last year you’ll have daily lectures, a relatively empty schedule and be able to exist as a couch potato. M3 is a whole new world of
suffering 10-hour days in the hospital wards, followed by having to revise the day’s cases and study for end-of-posting exams when you finally reach home – at least that’s the horror story that I’ve heard from my seniors, I’ll write about M3 once I experience it for myself.
The things you’ll learn in M2 lay the foundation for all your subsequent years in Medical school, and are extremely relevant to your future practice, so this hopefully you’ll become less useless as you progress through M2!
Jokes aside, let’s jump right in!
Timeline for M2
|mid-Aug to mid-Nov:||Microbiology, Antimicrobials, Immunology, General Pathology, General Pharmacology, Genetics, Ethics|
|mid-Nov to mid-Jan:||Systemic Pathology, Systemic Pharmacology|
|mid-Jan to mid-Feb:||the rest of Systemic Pathology, Neuroscience, Ageing|
|early-March:||2nd Professional MBBS Exam (a fancy way of saying Finals)|
|mid-March to mid-April:||Clinical Skills Foundation Programme|
A day in the life of an M2
- There are daily lectures and tutorials a few times a week. On most days, we start later than the 8.30am lectures we had back in M1, and most days end around mid-afternoon. On great days, depending on timetabling, there can be as little as 0 or 2 hours of school, but such days are mostly nearer the end of the academic year when most of the topics have already been completed.
- There are more topics in M2 than in M1, but overall, the curriculum is less demanding (less rote memory and more application of knowledge) but more clinically relevant!
- These are the broad topics covered in M2:
- Pathology (General & Systemic)
- Pharmacology (General & Systemic)
- Fair warning, M2 passes by very quickly, with such a barrage of topics over just 8 months and juggling extra-curricular activities, so be sure to keep up with the curriculum and don’t rely on last-minute cramming!
How I’m surviving
- I’m writing this on the very day our finals ended; I’m tired and pretty incoherent….so what better time to write a long blog post?? I apologise if it’s more long-winded than normal. ><
- The seniors’ notes this year are even more comprehensive and high quality than those available in M1, and they’ve helped me spend even less time studying. Most people use Robbin’s textbook for Pathology, but I swear by the seniors’ notes called Hwee’s Pathology and supplement it with Google. It’s so much more concise than textbooks, and doesn’t miss out any details, which is perfect for efficient learning.
- My favourite lecturers this year were Prof Tim Barkham (he’s so engaging and v passionate about Microbiology; his lectures are impossible to sleep in cos they’re stellar), Prof Indranee Rajah (she highlights all the important learning points and is a very concise lecturer) and Dr Derrick Soon (he does all the neuroscience lectures at the end of M2, and he’s funny + teaches the main concepts very clearly).
- I relied on self-directed studying
and lots of prayerto pass my exams haha. I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you’re looking to achieve stellar grades (80% and above), but my method definitely gave me infinitely much more free time than those who attend lectures or watch the webcasts.
- I faithfully attended tutorials, cos
attendance is taken andthey’re definitely very useful in consolidating each topic and clarifying any misconceptions with the tutors.
- Since I still prioritise sleep and social life over school, the aforementioned methods were what best enabled me to lead the lifestyle I wanted. M2 is/was the last year that medical students in YLLSoM have the freedom to do whatever they want, be it sleep in till noon or go out with friends in the middle of the day. I chose to have a more ‘fun’ life this year, instead of confining myself to the mundane 8.30-4pm schedule of school.
- 2019 edit: I’m currently an M4, and I just came back to this post to add that you need to have rly solid foundations in Physiology, Neuroscience & Pharmacology cos it’ll save you a lot of blood, sweat and tears in your clinical years!
Clinical Group formation is a relatively important part of M2, since this is the group (6 people) you’ll be posted to hospitals and attend tutorials with for your final 3 years of Med school. Understandably, you’d want to form it with your closest friends, but if you have close friends in different social circles, it won’t be possible to form a CG with all of them – and that’s how the drama arises. Personally, I didn’t burn any bridges when forming my CG, but I witnessed firsthand how some of my friends became awkward with other people after deciding to join other CGs or friends, instead of going with their friendship groups/cliques.
My batch in particular started forming CGs during the summer holidays (June/July), 4 months before we were even required to form CGs. A lot of people were blindsided and left out of the formation, so when they returned to school in August, they were shocked to find out that some of their close friends had excluded them and formed CGs without them. Thankfully, I wasn’t in such a situation and managed to form my CG without stressing out excessively or ruining any friendships.
I believe the school is planning to change the system by randomly assigning students to CGs in subsequent batches, so we’ll see if that works better for our juniors!
Clinical Skills Foundation Programme (CSFP)
This is a separate module that lasts for a month immediately after your 2nd Professional Exams (your finals), and comprises a week of procedural skills and 4 weeks of hospital postings to put your skills into action. No, you don’t get a break after finishing finals. There’s an exam at the end of this CSFP module that comprises 30% of your Year 2 grades, and you have to pass this component to be promoted to the next year. But DON’T PANIC, it’s a ridiculouosly easy exam to pass; you’ll be conducting physical examinations (for the various systems) on simulated patients/paid actors (SPs), and assessed on your skill/competence during the exam, and whether you completed all the steps.
You would already have had multiple CSFP lectures and tutorials throughout the year, with refresher courses and hands-on sessions during the CSFP module, so you’ll have learnt skills like:
- Communication with patients: This include history taking & building rapport with patients, and you’ll be given a chance to There are some guidelines to follow, and useful skills that you’ll learn along the way.
- How to do a physical examination, and there will be many different tutorials to cover each of the systems (CVS, Respi, Abdomen, Neuro), so make sure to pay attention in those. Of course, real life practice is the most useful so feel free to use your family members as your patients – the perk is that you won’t get into trouble even when you make mistakes. 😛
- Basic procedural skills such as phlebotomy, catheterisation, setting IV plugs, NG tube insertion and suturing. We also learnt how to use the fundoscope and otoscope.
It’s generally a very chill month – it had better be, after the tiring ordeal that was our finals – with the procedural skills week having relatively short hours and the hospital postings being relatively informal. My CG has been posted to NUH, and maybe I’ll update this post again after CSFP ends (our finals just ended today)…if I have time.
Edit: I’m halfway through my NUH posting, and my posting has been so relaxed and I’ve had nothing on my schedule for most of the days. The intensity of CSFP varies from hospital to hospital, with my friends posted to CGH having to show up from 7am-4pm everyday, do ward rounds and clerk patients.
For those of you looking forward to patient interaction and actually being able to examine patients, you’ll enjoy being in the wards and being able to put all the skills from the multiple CSFP tutorials into practice. Your CSFP posting is just a teaser of what your life in M3 will be like, where the days will be longer and you’ll be learning new things every single day. I’ll write another post in a year’s time about life as an M3, and I’ll link it here once it’s up! 🙂
I’ll be off travelling for the better half of the summer break, since it’s the last proper vacation time we’ll have in Med school
and pretty much the rest of our working life. Remember to like ChasingFaithAndLove’s FB page and follow this blog to stay up to date with all my latest adventures!
P.S. I don’t make any money from running this blog, so if you’d like to support my writing and help me bring even better content to you, you can buy me a coffee/donate on Ko-fi!
If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series