Placements as a first-year medical student


Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Medicine
Course: MBChB Medicine
Category: Medicine

18 May 2022

When I was choosing which university I would apply to, I remember reading that Anglia Ruskin medical students can expect to start placement in their first year. At the time I imagined it would be very little patient contact but still a good way to get exposure to the medical world quite early in the degree.

To help you before you start, here is a bit more information about placements from my perspective as a medicine student.

As first years, we have 2-hour placements in a hospital once a week during teaching, 5 full days of GP placement and a 2 week, 8:30-16:00 block placement at the end of the year. A summary of each experience is below:

2-hour placements

These were linked to the module we were studying so for my first placement we were on the respiratory ward once a week for 5 weeks. I remember when I was asked by the consultant to perform a patient history and examination… No problem, right? I had practiced this lots of times during my in-school sessions.

Well, I didn’t exactly sail through it, however it was a huge learning curve that added to my knowledge and experience by the end of the day. I came home understanding that patients are all different, so it will not be as straightforward as practicing on your healthy, young colleagues or the simulated aides we have at the medical school.

GP placements

Does anyone else struggle with speaking to people over the phone? During my GP placements I have realised just how many patients are seen in one day, and that is without the phone consultations! The first time I was asked to do a phone consultation I panicked. I hated speaking over the phone, however after the first few times it became much easier. Most of the worries come from not being able to observe the body language to help with visual aids when speaking to patients. The best way to overcome this is to practise, practise and practise.

Block placement

In this placement block I rotated every morning and afternoon to different wards so was able to see many different scenarios. These ranged from allergy testing to scrubbing into surgery. Most of the time was spent shadowing and being asked questions, however we were encouraged to take patient history, patient examinations and if the opportunity presented itself, we could also take bloods and do other simple clinical techniques! This again consolidated the learning we had done so far.

Through these placements I have started to figure out what my approach to patients for taking their history and examining them is. This really helped breakdown the barrier I put into place when communicating with patients. I also was able to practice the skills I learnt in a controlled, simulated environment, in a real workplace scenario. This aided my learning as well as my techniques. I feel more confident when dealing with patients and eager to learn and hopefully practise more in my future placements.

Fatima studies Medicine with ARU in Chelmsford. If you're interested in this, or other courses, come along to an Open Day to find out more about studying with us.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.