The 2nd year of my MBBS course at Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia lasted for about 9 months from 29 September 2015 to 1 June 2016. In NUMed, 2nd year is known as Stage 2. During Stage 2, I lived in Horizon Residences, Bukit Indah which is accommodation managed by the university. Even though now I have completed Stage 2, I can still remember it very well. Here, I am writing about my experience when I was in Stage 2.
On 26 September, I moved into Horizon Residences. My parents drove me from Subang Jaya back to Bukit Indah. My housemates also moved in on the same day. Then on 27 September, I and my housemates had dinner together at a Chinese restaurant in Skudai. Stage 2 of Medicine course began on 29 September. It was about a week later compared to the previous years. This marked the end of my 4 month summer break. At that time, I felt that the summer break seemed to pass so quickly and I felt sad because I would not have any more 4 month break in the future. For the 1st semester of Stage 2, I would be studying Thoughts, Senses and Movement (TSM) which comprises the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. For Stage 2, I was assigned the same seminar group as during Stage 1. All my group mates also remained in the same group. I was very happy about this.
In early October, I was still in holiday mood so I did not start doing any revision. My next examination would be the Progress 1 examination in January 2016 which was still a long time away. On 6 October, NUMed distributed the assignments for Stage 2 which are Patient Study and Student Selected Component (SSC). The SSC had 2 parts, Literature Review and Oral Presentation. I expected that the SSC would be quite difficult while the Patient Study would be easier. I planned to do a part of the assignments in November and continue with the rest after the Progress 1 examination. I and my friends went to the EduCity Stadium near NUMed to play badminton on 7 October. As NUMed students, we could access the stadium for free. I was quite poor at badminton and I knew only the basics, but I still enjoyed playing badminton with my friends. This was my 2nd time playing badminton.
I and my friends celebrated the birthday of someone in our group on 12 October. We went to AEON Bukit Indah to buy the ingredients, then we prepared the food for the celebration at Horizon Residences. Since I do not know how to cook, I only helped with the preparation of the drinks. The birthday celebration was held beside the swimming pool of Horizon Residences. We surprised our friend with the celebration. During the celebration, we entered the swimming pool. It was really an interesting birthday celebration. On 14 October, I and my study partners visited our patient for the Patient Study assignment. Then, I submitted my proposal of my choice of topic for the SSC assignment on 18 October. On 19 October, I started creating the notes for AS Level Physics, Chemistry and Biology based on the 2016-2018 syllabus, after receiving numerous requests from my blog readers. I finished creating the notes and uploaded them to this blog on 22 October. On 23 October, I was informed by my lecturer that my proposal for the SSC had been approved.
Around that time, I was thinking back of Stage 1 and I realised that I had not obtained excellent results in examinations ever since the Stage 1 Progress 1 in November 2014. I felt sad about it and as a result I set myself the target of getting at least 80% for the Stage 2 Progress 1 examination. To achieve it, I decided to start revising very early. This got me out of my holiday mood. I began my revision for the Progress 1 examination on 26 October. On 28 October, I and my study partners followed our patient to visit his GP as part of the Patient Study assignment. We had to skip a few lectures in the morning for that. After returning to NUMed, I was very tired, causing me to fall asleep for a few minutes during a lecture. One of my friend took a photo of me sleeping and sent it to our WhatsApp group with the words 'Thug Life'. On that afternoon, there was a formative anatomy practical test. I and my friends decided to not write our names on our answer sheets, instead we all wrote someone's name. However, our lecturers were upset when they knew about that. They said that if we didn't want to write our actual names, we could use our initials, but we should not use another student's name. We eventually apologised to our lecturers over this incident.
Throughout November, I was doing revision for the Progress 1 examination. A large proportion of TSM is anatomy, which was my weak point at that time. Therefore, I put in more effort to revise anatomy in greater detail. Soon, I began to feel that anatomy isn't that difficult actually. Because there was still a long time until the Progress 1, I did not study very long hours every day, so I was not too stressed. Earlier, I had planned to do a part of the Patient Study and SSC assignments in November. However, I changed the plan and decided to do the assignments only after the Progress 1, because I wanted to focus on revising for the Progress 1 and there would still be a lot of time to do the assignments after the Progress 1. On 13 November, I and my study partners carried out our 3rd visit to our patient for the Patient Study assignment.
In early December, I started feeling more stressed and I revised longer hours daily, because the Progress 1 examination was approaching. On 4 December, there was a cultural fest at NUMed and I attended it for the first time. The fest presented several cultures, particularly food and games, from different parts of the world. It was quite interesting. I and my study partners carried out our 4th visit to our Patient Study patient on 5 December. On 10 December, it was the 1st Hospital Visit for Stage 2. We went to Hospital Sultan Ismail. At the hospital, I and one of my friend clerked 2 patients. We also had a discussion and conversation with our Stage 3 seniors. Then on 14 December, I and my friends visited Diabetes Malaysia at Hospital Sultanah Aminah as part of the Patient Study assignment. The 2nd formative anatomy practical test was on 17 December. This time, I and my friends wrote the initials of our names on the answer sheets.
The winter break started on 19 December and it lasted for 3 weeks. The break used to last for 4 weeks in the previous years, but it was shortened to 3 weeks for this year. I could not enjoy the winter break at all, due to the fact that the Progress 1 examination would be immediately after the break and I had to revise for the examination during the break. This is something that I really dislike, because I think that breaks should be for students to rest and relax. Unfortunately, many students preferred to have the break to study, which was why NUMed scheduled the Progress 1 after the break. My parents fetched me back to Subang Jaya on 20 December. I had dinner with my Taylor's College friends on 22 December. Then, I had lunch with them again on 23 December. On 26 December, I went to Kulim for 1 week. During that time, I was very busy revising for the Progress 1 and I felt very stressed.
On 2 January, I returned to Subang Jaya. I met one of my Taylor's College friend again on 7 January. We watched the Hong Kong movie Anniversary at GSC Cinema in IOI Mall, Puchong. Then, my parents drove me back to Bukit Indah on 8 January. On 11 and 12 January, it was the Progress 1 examination. The examination questions were very difficult because they tested on a lot of fine details, some of which I did not pay attention to during my revision. As a result, I could not answer well in the examination despite having done a lot of revision. After the Progress 1 ended, there were about another 2 weeks of break. I relaxed for a few days before starting the Patient Study assignment. On 14 January, I and my friends went to Cat's Cafe in Johor Bahru for lunch. I drove my friends there. In the cafe, there were many cats walking around. They were very cute and were always kept clean by the staffs. It was truly an interesting experience. I and my study partners visited our Patient Study patient for the final time on 16 January.
On 17 January, I started writing the Patient Study assignment. This assignment is similar to the Family Study assignment in Stage 1. I had to write a report based on the information gathered when I and my study partners visited our patient previously. I referred to the assignments done by my seniors as a guide. Most students wrote the assignment by dividing it into several subheadings. However, I wrote the assignment as a single continuous essay because I preferred it this way. Just like what I had expected earlier, the Patient Study was not difficult and I did not feel stressed doing it. On 18 January, the results for the Progress 1 examination was released. My score was 71.86%. Although I did not reach my target of 80%, I was still happy because it was still a good score and there was a slight improvement compared to the Stage 1 Progress 3 examination. The 2nd semester of Stage 2 began on 26 January. For this semester, I would be studying Clinical Sciences and Investigative Medicine (CSIM) which comprises pathology, immunology and microbiology. The lecturers told us that CSIM would be quite difficult.
The deadline for the Patient Study assignment was on 12 February. However, I had completed and submitted the assignment on 5 February. With this, I could celebrate Chinese New Year without having to worry about the assignment. This was the first time where I submitted an assignment before its deadline. The Chinese New Year was on 8 February. NUMed had 4 days of holidays from 6 to 9 February. I decided to skip classes on 10 to 12 February so that I could have one whole week of holidays. On 6 February, I took a flight back to Subang Jaya. I flew by Malaysia Airlines and it was the first time I flew alone. Then, I and my parents went to Kulim on 7 February to celebrate Chinese New Year. My cousins' family also went to Kulim and we all stayed in my grandparents' house. It was an interesting Chinese New Year. I and my parents returned to Subang Jaya on 11 February, then my parents drove me back to Bukit Indah on 12 February.
I relaxed for a few days before I started writing the Student Selected Component (SSC) Literature Review on 15 February. This assignment is similar to the Critical Appraisal and Literature Review assignment in Stage 1. I had to find relevant articles for the title I chose, then write a review of the articles followed by a conclusion. I again referred to my seniors' assignments as a guide. Contrary to my expectation earlier, I did not find this assignment difficult or stressful. Unlike the Stage 1 Critical Appraisal and Literature Review, this assignment was not boring because I chose the topic that I was interested in. On 18 February, there was a wet teaching session on microbiology. We had the opportunity to produce bacteria cultures and look at specimen of bacteria using microscope. On 24 February, when I was sleeping, I had 3 strange dreams. The 1st was about me trying to find a burger shop in SS2, the 2nd was about me and my cousins going to Pakistan for holidays while the 3rd was about me experiencing ear pain while taking a submarine ride.
The deadline of the SSC Literature Review was on 10 March. By 6 March, I had largely finished writing the assignment. Then, I submitted it on 9 March ahead of its deadline. I decided to fully relax for 2 weeks before I start revising for the Progress 2 examination. There was a solar eclipse on 9 March. Strangely, the sun seemed to look normal, except that the sky was not as bright as usual. I sent my Acer laptop for repair at the service centre in AEON Bukit Indah on 10 March because it broke down shortly after I completed the assignment. I was told that the hard disk was damaged so it had to be replaced. Therefore, I would lose all personal data and programs in my laptop. Luckily, I had backed up my personal data to the cloud. On 14 March, my laptop was ready and I went to collect it. After that, I started reinstalling the important programs on my laptop.
On 15 March, it was the 2nd Hospital Visit for Stage 2. Once again, we went to Hospital Sultan Ismail to clerk patients. On 17 March, I had an outing with my friends. We had lunch at Indian Kitchen which is located not far away from NUMed. After that, we went to Puteri Harbour. There, we had desserts at Starbucks. We took a look at Jen Hotel, where the NUMed Prom Night would be held in the following month. When we came across a Toy'R'us store, we decided a get a toy car for every one of us as a symbol and memory of our friendship. This outing with my friends was really interesting. I went to Columbia Asia Hospital on 18 March to get vaccination for chickenpox which is compulsory for all medical students. This was arranged by NUMed because my health report showed that I was not vaccinated against chickenpox.
On 20 March, I played the video game Braid and successfully completed all levels for the first time, with the help of a walkthrough on the internet. On 21 March, my HTC One E8 mobile phone received the upgrade to Android Marshmallow, which I had been waiting for months. Later on that night, I watched the launch of the iPhone SE and 9.7 inch iPad Pro live online. My 21th birthday was on 23 March 2016. Many of my friends wished me through the internet. I had dinner at Nando's which is my favourite restaurant, then I had cake at Secret Recipe. On 24 March, I decided to create a 2nd Facebook account specifically for keeping in touch with my close friends, while my 1st Facebook account would still continue to be in use. NUMed had an Easter break which started on 26 March and lasted for 2 weeks. On 26 March, I took a flight back to Subang Jaya. I flew by Firefly this time. My parents then drove me to Kulim on 27 March. At that time, I started revising for the Progress 2 examination which would be in May. However, as I was in holiday mood, I did not put my full attention in the revision.
On 2 April, my cousins came to Kulim. On that night, I watched the movies Bad Neighbours and Interstellar with my cousins. Then on 3 April, my parents drove me back to Subang Jaya. However, in the journey my father's car broke down due to a problem with the alternator. Luckily, that happened when we were at Tapah rest area. We called a tow truck and had to wait hours for it to arrive. We then sat the tow truck to Subang Jaya. On 5 April, I met up with one of my Taylor's College friend. We went to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at GSC Cinema in IOI Mall, Puchong. I flew back to Bukit Indah on 9 April. NUMed reopened on 11 April. On that day, the results for the Patient Study assignment was released. My score was 37/50 for Skills and 38/50 for Knowledge. Although not as good compared to the Stage 1 Family Study, it was still a good score and I was quite satisfied. At that time, I started preparing for the Student Selected Component (SSC) Oral Presentation, so I temporarily stopped my revision for the Progress 2 examination. For the oral presentation, I had to present on a topic of my choice using PowerPoint slides.
On 15 April, it was the NUMed Prom Night which was held at Jen Hotel, Puteri Harbour. I drove one of my friend there. When I arrived there, the prom night had not yet started so I walked around the hotel. Many Stage 2 students and some lecturers attended the prom night. 7 out of 10 of my group mates attended it. I was in the same table as many of my friends. During the prom night, food was served and there were many performances on the stage. The food was quite tasty and the performances were interesting to watch. There were also lucky draws, but unfortunately I did not win any of them. Towards the end of the prom night, I and my friends began taking photographs. I took group photos with my group mates and with my friends who sat in the same table. I also took two-person photos with many of my friends. There was also a dance but I did not take part as I do not know how to dance. We spent more than an hour taking photographs before leaving. The prom night was really interesting, especially taking photographs with my friends.
I finished preparing the PowerPoint slides for the SSC Oral Presentation and submitted it on 18 April, one day before its deadline. I practised the oral presentation with my friends quite often at that time. The GP Visit for Stage 2 was on 20 April. I and my group mates went to Klinik Kesihatan Mahmoodiah. There, we observed the patients' consultation with the doctors. On 21 April, it was the SSC Oral Presentation. I performed quite well in the oral presentation, due to the fact that I had practised a lot. I felt that this was the easiest assessment in Stage 2. After that, I relaxed for a few days. I went to Columbia Asia Hospital on 22 April to get a booster dose of vaccination for chickenpox. On 25 April, I started my revision for the Progress 2 examination. I had forgotten most of what I had revised a few weeks earlier since I wasn't revising wholeheartedly, so I needed to revise them again. I expected that the revision would be stressful. There was a formative anatomy practical test on 28 April. That was also the last anatomy session for Stage 2.
On 6 May, it was the last lecture for Stage 2. There was a formative OSCE on 7 May. I performed poorly because I was not well prepared for it. On 9 May, there was a clinical skills revision session. After that, we had a 3 week study break. There was a clinical skills session on knee examination on 20 May. This session should have been scheduled previously before 6 May, but our lecturers forgot about it. This was the final clinical skills session for Stage 2. Throughout May, I was very busy revising for the Progress 2 examination. I had to revise very long hours every day and I felt extremely stressed. There was a lot that I had to revise because the examination would test on both semester 1 and 2 topics. The topics for CSIM were also quite difficult. I was worried that I would not have enough time to finish the revision. To save time, I ate just 2 meals every day, one of the meals being instant noodles. I always longed for the examination to end and for the summer break to begin. I was definitely just hoping to pass Stage 2 and nothing more than that.
On 22 and 23 May, I temporarily stopped my revision for the Progress 2 and I practised the OSCE with my friends at Horizon Residences. The End of Stage OSCE was on 24 May. During the OSCE, I could not perform well in the first few stations, even though I thought that I prepared well for the OSCE. It affected my confidence, causing me to not perform well in the remaining stations too. I felt that I had screwed up the entire OSCE and I was really worried that I would fail it. I was prepared for having to resit the OSCE, but I told myself that I must try my best to pass the Progress 2 examination. After the OSCE, I continued my stressful revision for the Progress 2. The Progress 2 examination was on 31 May and 1 June. It turned out that the Progress 2 was actually not very difficult because the questions were quite direct. After all my hard work, I could answer it reasonably well and I was confident of passing it.
After the Progress 2 examination, it was the summer break which would last about 3 months until 28 August. I could finally relax after more than 1 month of stressful revision. However, I was still quite worried because of the the OSCE. On 2 June, I and my friends went to TGV Cinemas in AEON Bukit Indah to watch X-Men: Apocalypse. My parents drove me back to Subang Jaya on 4 June. I left some of my personal belongings at Horizon Residences because NUMed allowed me to do so with no extra charges. On 8 June, the Stage 2 Pass List was released, along with the results for SSC assignment, Progress 2 and OSCE. I was so nervous that I dared not check the pass list first. Instead, I checked my SSC results first, followed by the Progress 2 and finally the OSCE. For the SSC, my score was 44.5/60 for Skills and 38/50 for Knowledge, while for the Progress 2, I obtained 64.65%. I was quite satisfied with the results. Then, I was so happy to know that I passed the OSCE, though it was really a narrow escape. My percentage was 74.28 while the pass threshold was 73.12, and I failed 3 out of 10 stations which was the maximum allowed. With that, I passed Stage 2 successfully and could continue on to Stage 3. This marked the end of Stage 2.
Overall, Stage 2 was quite interesting. It was about as interesting as Stage 1. I am glad that I no longer had problems with the assignments during Stage 2, unlike in Stage 1. The most stressful thing about Stage 2 was doing revision for the Progress 1 and 2 examinations. My greatest weakness for Stage 2 was the OSCE, which I performed badly and nearly failed. This is definitely something that I need to work to improve on in Stage 3.
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