We ask one of our students about their current day, studying for the Cambridge Medicine & Veterinary Sciences Tripos:
A typical day for me perfectly sums up what is so unique about Cambridge. My day starts with a 9am lecture, where I am taught by world class, highly influential professors and researchers. At Cambridge we do not simply learn the basics of clinical practice- we learn medicine in depth, from the intricate biochemistry of our bodily systems, building up to a level of anatomy only surgeons would be expected to know. As I am in my third year now, I get to choose exactly what subject and modules I take, which has really allowed me to explore my interest in cognitive neuroscience. The content we are being taught now is so up to date with current research, in fact a lot of what is discussed stems from evidence published only this year or last!
After my lectures, I usually head to the lab where I will work on my research project, which is looking into ion channels and neurons. Again, here I work with Professors and doctors who have redefined fields and have a vast array of publications. This can seem intimidating initially, but in reality everyone couldn’t be more supportive and helpful. We really are simply pushed and allowed to explore science for ourselves, rather than being simply instructed or mocked.
In the late afternoon, I will try to dedicate time for making lecture notes, but often I have other extracurricular responsibilities! For example, I am the publicity officer for my College’s students’ union, so I may have to create my weekly bulletin emails or attend meetings. I am also the Social Secretary for a University-wide Society, so I spend a lot of time planning events and contacting venues and companies. Extra-curricular activities are another part of Cambridge life that I think makes every day here special, I don’t think any other university could offer such a wide range of clubs, societies and teams- there truly is something here for everyone, no matter what the interest may be.
At the end of the day, I will return to my accommodation which has a large shared kitchen, and I usually cook, eat and unwind with friends. The collegiate system works so well in this respect, everyone makes friends outside their course so easily and it creates a really friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Not only that, but the fact at Cambridge we are guaranteed accommodation for all three years makes such the difference, as we can live in the city centre for reduced rates and never have to worry about landlords.
Some days, we will head out at night (as Cambridge students do have a normal social life, contrary to some applicants’ worries!), or go out for nicer formal dinners. But if not, I will head to bed, do some reading and try to get an early night ready for the next day ahead!”
We speak to one of our tutors on why they chose to study Biology at Oxford…
Why did you choose to study Biology?
Biology has not always been a ‘passion’, I started really enjoying it in year 11, and realised it was my ‘thing’ in sixth form. I had fantastic teachers, and I think that having someone inspiring really makes a difference in any subject. I think, unlike other sciences, being able to physically observe the things I learn about- ecosystems, competition, sexual selection- is why I really love my subject, and why I chose it to study at University.
Within my degree, I am particularly interested in tropical and marine biology; I spent time abroad last year learning to dive and conducting scientific research with an International Operation, and this year will be travelling Indonesia to study palm oil as part of my Final Honour Schools project. I’m hoping to do a masters following my degree.
What does a typical day of study look like?
My typical day involves quite a few contact hours, but I’m an early riser so usually able to get some work done before lectures start. I play sport of some kind every day, squash, climbing, football and aerial dance. I find these really help with my productivity. Lunch is usually between 12 and 1, after which I’ll either work on an essay, revise, or go to a practical. I usually cook for myself in the evenings and start getting ready for bed around 9.
How did you choose which college to study at?
I admit, I haven’t always wanted to come to Oxford, and only really decided to give it a shot because I was encouraged to by a member of staff. I was at a state school where the support network was very good; I’m so grateful for those that helped me. I didn’t apply to the college that I ended up at – I actually thought my interview for my current college was much, much worse than my other one, so getting an offer letter from here was quite a shock! I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to go, wasn’t sure if Oxford was for me, but as exams approached, and began to think further into the future, I found myself really really wanting to get in. I remember how proud of myself I had felt; it’s quite a unique feeling!
Tell us about your degree – Medicine at Cambridge
I am currently studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge because I would like to become a doctor. I am in the final year of my undergraduate degree. A typical day varies between your preclinical and clinical years at Cambridge. In the first three years, I spent most of my time in lectures and doing lab work. I really enjoyed my anatomy module in first year – we do whole body dissection which is a fantastic learning opportunity. In the final three years, it becomes more hands on. I spend most of my time on wards talking to and examining patients. We are also allowed to assist in surgery!
Medicine at Cambridge is a lot of work which is difficult, however, the knowledge I have gained over the last six years is incredible. The workload is heavier than anything I had encountered before and the learning curve is steep with a short adjustment period but the rewards are well worth it. I love having such an in-depth understanding of the human body.
What was your interview like?
The interview was very similar to a supervision and was very science based with graphs and diagrams. There was also a section on more medicine relevant topics, such as NHS and any current medical news.
Experience of life in Cambridge doing Engineering at Pembroke:
A day in the life – 5th year medical student
As a 5 th year medical student my day to day is very different from in the first few years, but it is important to think beyond undergraduate when choosing where to apply. The clinical half of the course is very varied depending which rotation you are on, general medicine and surgery, paediatrics, emergency medicine, obstetrics, neurology, general practice, psychiatry and more are all squeezed into an intense 3 years. Rotations involve a combination of lectures and seminars, usually in a crash course at the start, followed by self led opportunities to experience wards, theatres, clinics.
A standard day on the wards will start with the ward round, where students are encouraged to present patients and ask questions. Following this we help with jobs on the ward, take histories and examine interesting patients, get plenty of bedside teaching and follow various members of the team. Afternoons are often spent in clinics or theatre. Your time is largely your own, but there is always someone friendly and willing to help you make the most of it. After hospital I take part in university level sport, which is definitely manageable alongside the clinical workload, in fact students are encouraged to continue with other interests throughout clinical school.