So here I am again with yet another bad news post.  Again(!) I have failed that darned exam by a matter of a few points.

59, 70, 49.  Overall 56. (S1+S2+S3+S3/4)

59 if you do the SGUL calculation. Bugger!! (S1+S2+s3/3)

So frustrated.

As it turns out the cut offs were higher for St Georges this year so if I had got that 50 I wouldn’t have got an interview anyway.

St Georges cut off: 60 with a minimum of 50 in all sections

Onwards and upwards. I’m going to do some Gradmed I think. I need that science boost more than ever now.



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Third time lucky?

Here  I am again! Post GAMSAT take 3.

I hate to count my chickens but I feel that one went best of all so far. Section 1 and 2 always seem to go pretty smoothly for me. I don’t even remember Section 1 other than some stupid chart about conflict that I didn’t understand. Finished it with a few minutes to spare as I normally do. Section 2 I was ok with – nothing too taxing. Task A was around the ideas of irrational thought so I blathered on about religion and homeopathy. Task B was covering a few ideas but I chose procrastination and blathered on about how good I am at it….! Structure on both were good but content was a bit hit and miss…hopefully I’ve got over 60 as that’ll pull the rest up.

Onto Section 3 – my nemesis. There was a lot of organic chemistry. Which is good as that’s what I’d mostly been revising the days before. Win. I think it’s because of that that I felt it went ok. Also because I actually finished more of the paper than I ever have before – although the last 20 mins were mostly guesses. But guesses from reading the passages rather than blind guessing. I don’t know if it’s worse feeling so confident after than feeling like you’ve definitely failed.

So now begins the horrific painful wait – 8 to 10 weeks of it – to see if I’ve scraped that elusive 55 in section 3 and got enough in 1 and 2 to pull that up to 60ish. If I get the same marks as last time but 55 in 3 that should be enough. For St Georges that is. Because of my lame ass 2:2 Notts needs me to get 65 or above overall. I really would love to go there but I have to be realistic – it’s unlikely to work that way for me. Got to go to where I can get a place – beggers can’t be choosers!

I better not get 54. I’ll be in AGONY over that.

Oh well. I’ll probably sit March if I don’t get through this time. I WILL pass you bastard exam – however long it takes!!!

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So far…

Hello folks.

I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog. I should have updated after the last GAMSAT results came through but I think I just wanted to forget about it all for a while!

I did better than March 2012 which was a plus. But still didn’t quite scrape the marks needed for interview. Science let me down once again!

September 2012 saw me get a 64,62,48. Arg.

Onwards and upwards however. Very pleased with the first 2 sections. I just need to up that science to similar marks.

I have begun my studying again in ernest. I’m moving it up a gear too. This September I WILL get the mark I need!!!

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Volunteering at Camp OTW

My week at camp was fantastic. I was a little worried when I found out I’d be looking after teenage boys, but they were all great kids and it was hard to tell any of them were ill at all a lot of the time!

The week began with lots of induction training and learning camp songs (they’re all very funny) before the kids arrived Monday afternoon. I met all the other volunteers in my group; was really interesting to see all the different kinds of people that volunteer. Lots were returners, some even former campers, so it really showed how much this meant to people.

My curiosity and interest in medicine meant that I was keen to know what kinds of illnesses people had or had recovered from, campers as well as former campers, but the point of camp is not to identify people by their illness but to treat everyone equally. Which is a really wonderful sentiment. A lot of these kids will feel like the ‘different’ one in their school or peer group so to come to camp where you are just the ‘same’ (i.e. have an illness) as everyone else must be fantastic for them, not having to constantly explain why they are different or what is wrong with them. Of course most of them had to go and visit the medical staff before meals for medication and some had overnight feeds or wheelchairs for when they felt tired, but other than that the week was about them as a person and not their illness.

I got to know several great teen lads, all with their own quirks, and by the end of the week I had completely forgotten they were ill at all. It think that is the biggest thing I will take away from this.  We all had a great laugh, volunteers and campers alike, I felt like I was hanging out with adopted little brothers most of the time! Part of the point of camp is to increase their confidence, and I am positive that we achieved that. I certainly came away feeling more confident in myself, especially with engaging with teenagers as that was one thing I had been worried about – all the horror stories about hormones and grumpiness I didn’t see at all really. I am less worried now about my son getting to that stage too!

One of the difficulties I did encounter however was an unexpected anxiety issue. Before I started suffering with this condition I loved throwing myself into new experiences with new people, I was pretty confident and happy in myself so I didn’t even consider that it would be an issue here as I am on medication and supposedly that’s meant to have ‘fixed’ me. Not so much apparently. First couple of days are so overwhelming; meeting all the other volunteers then the campers and then barely getting any time to myself to mentally breathe… I had a few wobbles.  A few times I felt that horrible feeling and wanted to go and hide under a duvet and cry. But I didn’t. I rang my little one and speaking to him and my family helped a lot. Just having a connection to someone familiar was enough to keep me going. It’s difficult being around strangers when you have something like anxiety that can sneak up on you. I didn’t want to whine and make a big deal out of it. Didn’t want to be treated differently. It was about the kids, not me. Part of it was that I got too caught up with worrying about what people thought of me (which is something that never really bothered me before) and I’d convinced myself no-one liked me. Which is stupid really. It shouldn’t matter. I’m not there to make friends. But there are lots of people who slot better into group situations, I’m not always one of them. Depends on the people I guess. I feel a bit stupid writing this now. But at the time I was in a state so it seemed to matter then. Looking back it was a couple of situations and things that were said or not said that set me off. But by the end of the week I had stopped worrying and just got on with it. My brain is very silly sometimes.

I’m definitely going to do it again next year I think. Even with the chance of wobbles.

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Time flies…

…too quickly for my liking.

I knew I’d blink and it would be almost GAMSAT time again. Really have to ramp up my studying over the next few weeks as I have mostly been meandering along since June; suddenly it’s August and I have a mere 50 days to study for the exam that could determine whether I can get in for 2013 or have to wait another year. Pressure much. I am starting to get concerned as again I am slightly overwhelmed by all the science and I know that I can’t learn it all. But I also know I don’t necessarily need to learn it all. So…hmmm.

Struggling with focus at the moment as the Olympics are distracting me, and I have a lot going on at home too. Trying to fit in practice questions and some science reading in every spare few moment I have but some days I just can’t face it. Brain drain from a busy day at work, or stress from elsewhere in my life and I’m too distracted or tired to do much with any success on an evening. It’s a bummer. But hopefully I will get enough done to claw a few more marks to get that target of 65 that I so desire. Yes, that’s what I’m aiming for. Mostly as a result of my crappy 2:2, I have to ensure I get as high marks as possible or I won’t be getting in anywhere. Boo.

Stressful is the news that SGUL have upped their minimum limit in section 3 from 50  to 55. No-one likes to hear that they have to get a higher score in the section they struggle  with most! Double boo.

In other news I have started my UCAS application, secured a reference from Nice Lady Consultant (although she hasn’t actually done it yet, wish I hadn’t said she had till October now haha…) and it’s all feeling too real. Eeep.

A week of volunteering at a children’s summer camp for kids with serious illnesses coming up and I’m very excited. I love kids, I love outdoorsy activities and I love crafty things so I think it’s going to be a blast. Only downside is it means I lose a whole week of study time. Hoping I can take some stuff but doubtful I will have the time or energy to do anything!!

Good luck to all you F1s starting this week – I really hope to be in your shoes in 5 years time. 🙂

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Recently I was lucky enough to be able to observe part of a breast reconstruction in theatre. One of the plastics consultants had requested a video of a certain part of a procedure so off I trundled.

I’ve been in theatre quite a few times before through my job. I very much enjoy it. I still get a little kick out of wearing scrubs and a hat and mask…I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but it hasn’t yet. Sad little medical obsessed me! I’ve seen a lot of maxilliofacial ops – some really interesting (and nasty!) stuff – as well as the odd lump and bump, knee replacement, and a few tumour removals. A few day surgery jobs too. But not so much recently. Which is a shame really, as now I really need as much experience as possible to sell myself to the med schools! 😉

The procedure was not one I knew a huge amount about; we often see the before and after breast reconstruction patients but I’ve never really thought about how it’s done. A lot of the patients are post mastectomy, so have little tissue left in that area. Therefore they must get the tissue from somewhere, I’d never really thought about where! This lady was all ‘marked up’ so I could see where they were getting the tissue for her new breast. Fabulous. The consultant and (I presume) his registrar got to work slicing and dicing – one on the breast area and the other on the abdomen where they were taking the tissue. The smell of cauterised flesh doesn’t half stick in your nostrils. I love watching them work though. Totally transfixes me. I know nothing about the stages of the procedure, what they are doing and why so I love to watch to try and understand. It’s not always clear! It’s so much easier when they have students or trainees in so they are explaining as they go. No such luck this time.

Once they had done as much as they could on the abdomen, the Reg disappeared (to the tea room no doubt) and the consultant continued with his part. It was now he pulled out the microscope as he had to expose the ‘vessels’ he said. I presumed this was to provide the blood supply to the new tissue. He worked hard for at least an hour and a half trying to expose these vessels. I could only see the screen with the feed from the microscope, was hard to gauge the relative size even with the surgical tools going in and out of view. It was only apparent when he had revealed what I think to be an artery and vein next to each other and was placing a plastic marker behind them that I found out how tiny it all really was! Amazing. Unforunately by that time I had finished what I was there to do and had to leave. Proper gutted as I was dying to see the rest. The actual reconstruction. Plastics does utterly fascinate me, particularly reconstuction. Grrr!!

Things like this just confirm to me that I am following the right path. I love medicine so much. 🙂

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GAMSAT results…

Well the results are in…..

I got 53 overall. Which is not great. But I knew it would be a miracle if I passed first time. Ideally I need 65 or more to get an interview at the med school I want so really it’s not *that* far off. But it’s hard hard work to get those measly 12 more points…

Here’s the breakdown:

Section1 – Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences – Score 55 (pass mark – 55)
Bummed out about this as I felt it went really well. I finished with time to spare so it wasn’t lost questions/guessing last minute. It may have been over confidence as I’d always scored highly here in the test papers so maybe I’d not given it enough attention as maybe I should have. Grrr.

Section 2 – Essays – Score 67 (pass mark – 55)
This is FABULOUS. I have no idea how I managed to pull that one out the bag but I’m very pleased. The subject matters I found easy to write about and my timings were spot on, and I felt the structure was pretty good too. Might not be so lucky on the Sept test, so I still need to write more practice essays.

Section 3 – Reasoning in Science – Score 45 (pass mark – 50)
Well this I totally expected. In fact I’m pretty chuffed I managed to get almost a pass!! Horrible horrible section and I know I really need to practice this one the most. BLEAGH. Probably invest in a tutor.

Overall I’m not actually that disappointed. It could have been a lot worse. I’m very happy with the section 2 score; I was fully expecting a better mark in section 1 so a bit annoyed there but I knew I was unlikely to ace it first time. 4 months to cram from September now. EEK.

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Plodding along

Good afternoon blogland. Thought it was a good time to give you a little update on things.

Well I didn’t get said job, probably for the best – it was a smaller department that wouldn’t give me the patient contact that I get currently, and I didn’t really like one of the interviewers either. I get on really well with my current colleagues (apart from my manager, but that is pretty usual isn’t it) so after being a bit down about it I decided actually I was quite glad I didn’t have to go through the whole rigmarole of moving sooner than anticipated. Onwards and upwards.

I have been enjoying my reclaimed leisure time over the past month; have read many many books on my lovely kindle, caught up on lots of my recorded tv shows and generally lazed about. I said to myself that I would allow myself a month off before getting back on the books for September’s exam, and today is the 30th so tonight or tomorrow I will be digging them all out again to refresh my memory of the horrors I’ve tried to forget…!! Realised I need to seriously brush up on my maths as well as the rest of it – the lack of calculators made it a lot harder than I thought. Laziness has set in over the years so I need to get my brain back into calculation mode. Also need to brush up on more physics and biology. And go over all the chem I rammed into my head last autumn. Will await my mark and decide from that whether I need to resort to a private tutor. I am thinking I will. Anything below 50 means I need it. I am fully expecting below 50…

One other thing that is not helping me right now is my anxiety. I’ve suffered on and off with it for a few years now, but never really done anything about it. It’s never been that severe, only coming on when it’s been set off by something then goes away on its own. But recently it’s just there all the time, and I get anxious about stupid things that I know aren’t worth worrying about. But my body is reacting to it nonetheless. It’s very frustrating. My mind is saying how ridiculous it all is and knowing it’s nothing to get so worried about by my body isn’t listening. So I have had to see my GP and get some medication. It’s not kicked in yet but I am looking forward to the day it does, I’m pretty sick of feeling this way. I am angry at my body for being so stupid and I feel frustrated and weak that I have had to resort to medication but that’s just my stubborness coming out. I know it needs sorting out or else I won’t be able to cope with things anymore; I am struggling already as it is.

It’s hard work this life thing. Working full time, being a single parent and trying to fit in all this med school stuff in the gaps has certainly been a strain. But I have coped fine in the past with things – this is what frustates me. It’s not that much really. Why is my body failing me? That’s what it feels like. My mind and body at odds with one another. I know I can do this, I’m as stubborn as hell about it. When I put my mind to something I do it. Why can’t my body follow suit? Ah. Frustrating.

See I worry about how this might affect me with the pressure of med school. I think I will be fine as I’m very enthusiastic about the whole thing but until I am thrown in there I don’t know how I am going to deal with it. All I do know is how badly I want it, and usually that means I will cope with whatever is thrown at me with gusto!! I’m sure everyone has these doubts but it’s extra hard for non-science people like me I think, and extra extra hard when you have a child to consider too! It’s all fun and games isn’t it…

Countdown to GAMSAT March results…T minus 18 days. Gulp. Must make sure I don’t just give up if I get an awful mark….!

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GAMSAT – the aftermath…

I now understand why people hate this exam. Not only is it a long day, but it’s gruelling and very difficult to keep your concentration for such a long time.

Section 1 (Humanities and Social Science) was hard work, but I feel pretty confident that I will have passed – but I’d rather not count my chickens! I actual enjoy reading and deciphering a lot of the passages – there were some really interesting ones, but of course there were others that were utterly mind numbing too. There were only a couple I totally guessed on, and in practice sections I usually got between 65-85% so I am hopeful this is what I will achieve in the real test.

Section 2 (Essays) was actually quite pleasant. I was dreading writing test B, as that was always the harder one when I did my practicing (more personal and emotional subjects) but in the actual test it was on love, which is damn easy to write about! However, because I have never actually had an essay marked, I haven’t a clue how well or badly I did. I know I got the structure and the word count in there, just no idea how they mark the rest of it. We shall see.

At the lunch break I was feeling pretty happy actually. Hate to be over-confident, but I felt it had gone pretty well and all my preparation had been worthwhile. But I was dreading the afternoon…

Section 3 was as horrific as everyone warned me. Even with my 6 months of brushing up there were still subjects I hadn’t managed to cover, or had but not in great enough detail, as proved by some of the questions that bamboozled me. I think I managed to semi-confidently answer about 40% but the rest was a bit of guessing mixed with blind panic C-ing in the last 10 minutes. I really think I have totally messed it up…. but I am told most people think that. I was quite pleased that most of the organic chemistry stuff I half understood but there were still some questions that flummoxed me. Arse.

So I am fully prepared to get an embarrassing mark for section 3.  But that’s not so bad. It was half practice run, half hoping-I’m-lucky-enough-to-pass-first-time. I will give myself a break until I hear my (possibly horrendous) score, then work on my game plan for September. I am considering getting a tutor. Will be far cheaper, and I think more efficient, than going on a course. But we shall see.

Now it’s all about this new job – interview tomorrow, wish me luck!!

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Less than a week

Somehow the last 3 weeks have vanished and I’ve not managed to do a great deal of studying inbetween life issues going on. Bit annoyed at myself as I know I have so little time left but I’ve been suffering a bit too much from anxiety lately so haven’t been able to concenrate or motivate. At least I have done something I suppose, not like I am going into this totally unprepared.

Friday I am heading down to London for the exam, so I literally have 5 days left (inbetween working and being a parent) to do some last minute practice. I plan to do a few more practice essays, particularly on Writing Test B as it’s loads harder than A, and lots of science practice questions, even though I still find them really hard to understand!

Couple of related things have happened since last blog – a job in my current career has come up close to my chosen medical school and I have applied. Hoping to hear about whether I have an interview in the coming week – talk about added stress! If I manage to secure that position it means a move but hopefully the last one for a long time. The small one can start school in the area a year earlier than previously he would have had I got into med school in this cycle so it means less upheveal for him. Here’s hoping.

I have also gained a place on the Over the Wall childrens camp I applied to so I have a week of volunteer work booked in August which is great news! Very much looking forward to it, looks really fun as well as a wonderfully moving experience. 🙂

Best get off, have a small person to feed and bath and some essays to write. Will update on how the exam went in a weeks time! Eek!

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