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A first year's diary

lucy dissLucy Diss writes about a week in her first term at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.


A breezy two-minute cycle ride with my house mate from Lancaster House on the Sussex campus to the Medical School that really wakes you up on a Monday morning! First thing is an anatomy lecture with Professor Evans on the Body’s Muscles: skeletal, cardiac, smooth. The lecture is one of my favourites as I’m really interested in the muscular system as well as the muscular degenerative diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I particularly enjoy anatomy lectures because, being a visual learner, I benefit from the PowerPoint presentations which are full of images. Quizzes using different coloured card in which to answer the questions really help test your knowledge and show what you’ve learnt.

I change into tracksuit bottoms, ready for Aerobatone – an aerobics class held at the Sussex sports centre. After returning home just after 6pm, I printed off my lectures for tomorrow, dished up some stir fry-goodnesswith sweet potato and chilled with my housemates in my room.


This morning is spent on the Brighton campus in the newly built Checkland Building. A group of us living on the Sussex campus took the free bus from the top of my road which comes every five minutes and takes only a couple of minutes to get to the other campus! Lectures on communication skills are very important for becoming a doctor and closely follow the guidelines of the GMC in Tomorrow’s Doctors – 80% of patient complaints are because of lack of communication skills!Lucy Diss image A coffee break at the café is a life saver followed by seminar groups where we discussed good and bad ways of communication essential in taking patient histories.

In the afternoon, we visited the GP surgery in Hove in pairs where we observed the GP and her consultations with patients; learning about different skin conditions and trapped nerves within the neck. One patient came in especially to talk to us about his experience of coping with mouth cancer and explained how he had to have a skin graft removed from his inner arm to replace part of the tongue cut out in the operation. It was a fascinating story.

We also practised taking a history on a patient with guidance from the GP which was great experience and hands-on practise. I was very nervous at first but afterwards found the more patient contact I got used to, the more it boosted my confidence.

We also accompanied a health care visitor on a home visit with to a 13-day-old baby girl – she was adorable! We learnt about themother’s experience of pregnancy and giving birth.

Exhausted from travelling, I had a huge bowl of tomato and mozzarella pasta and met some of the medics at the bus stop. We went to the Audrey Emerton Building in Brighton, which shows films and lectures on medical related topics aiming to encourage you to look ‘outside the box’ of your medicine degree.


A small lie-in and then on the bus to meet over on the Brighton campus with our academic tutor who monitors our progress and is there to support us. They are happy to answer any queries. The module – Academic Skills – aims to ensure that medical students have the numerical, written and oral communication, independent study skills etc required by the GMC in Tomorrow’s Doctors. The meeting today prepared us for tutorial essay on the health effects of climate change and if our essays were good enough, we had the opportunity to get it published in the BMJ.

The afternoon is free every week to partake in BSMS sports teams! I go to the netball training on the Sussex sports grounds and enjoy socialising with all the medic girls.

Wednesday night is the BSMS sports social! We dress up and head off into Brighton along the North Lanes in the pubs and bars and end up in the Oceana enjoying the cheap student priced drinks and the hectic dance floor of the cheese room.


Physiology lecture on Cell Physiology of Ions – the subject in which I find the most challenging. There is plenty of help with extra reading and exam practice and the lecturers are always available to answer any queries. One medic friend was able to help me understand some theories as he had covered it in his first degree. Everyone tends to help each other and it feels like a close-knit family!

Yoga at the gym for a cool down and complete the online tests to consolidate my knowledge on today’s lectures.Lucy Diss


My first cadaver dissection this afternoon! Professor Evans demonstrated a previous dissection of the thorax on a video at the front of the class which also reviewed the anatomy we need to distinguish in our own cadaver. My heart started to palpate as I lifted the cover off the body but further into the session I become more comfortable. After removing the fat with forceps in a blunt dissection,  another two medical students in our group on the table took to the blade and dissected a muscle in the thorax, the pectoralis major. I really appreciated how well designed the body is and the huge extent of gift this person gave in donating her body.

My housemates and I went into Brighton town to do our weekly shopping in Sainsbury’s with my recycling elephant bag! Later on that evening, we had a kitchen gathering with a couple of drinks to celebrate the weekend. Many go home on Saturday to visit family, friends and boyfriends/girlfriends, so the campus is generally quiet but is ideal for a relaxing couple of days.

(We acknowledge the support of Brighton and Sussex Medical School for supplying this article).