Thursday, 7 October 2010

First weeks of the fourth year

Broth with leaves
You need another post about what I'm doing at school. Term started two weeks ago, and what have you had? A whinge about how ill I am, how busy I am, a heavy hint of a future post about house-painting, and a camping holiday. It's not very 'dietetic' at the moment, is it?

Well, the truth is that this term seems a bit odd so far. After 12 weeks of 'work' over the summer, including 2 weeks of very nearly doing the job for real, it is very strange to re-enter the world of university, especially when the modules are so different from previous years. I have to admit that I don't feel terribly motivated about this semester's academic focus, especially with the hodge-podge of introductions to the two taught modules (Nutrition in the Community, and Advanced Dietetics and Professional Issues). First lectures have been:
  • An introduction to key policies in Public Health Nutrition, both nationally and internationally
  • A long, long lecture entirely about UK statistics, surveys and data relating to diet and health (Health Informatics), given by an Analyst from the East Midlands Public Health Observatory
  • One morning on complex diabetes cases (which wasn't actually all that advanced) from a specialist Diabetes Dietitian
  • A forum for feedback on our B placements, as well as looking forward to our C placements and beyond to job applications and employment
  • A professional development session about behaviour change and motivational interviewing, plus a tutor-led half-day session on advanced communications skills
  • Prevalence and treatment of childhood obesity, led by a Public Health Dietitian.
The lectures don't seem to have much of a theme running through them, other than "these are things that you ought to know more about but we haven't had the time or opportunity to tell you in previous years." One of the modules even has two completely different subjects in its title. The coursework is similarly varied - I haven't really settled down to look at it properly yet, but I am expecting it to be more challenging than in previous years. I need to take a look at past exams, to see whether I've missed something, and there really is something examinable in the lectures so far.

I've also had a long meeting with my research project tutor, a short meeting with my B placement supervisor (who is also the Course Manager), and a very short meeting with my personal tutor. Today I sold three textbooks that I won't need any longer, or if I do need, I can find very easily in any hospital library. The other things I have been doing are to get started on my research project, and to interrogate other students about what their B placement was like, and where they are likely to want to go for their C placement.

As in previous years, we have to express a first, second and third preference for our next placement, due to start in February 2011. People in circumstances that restrict their choices (with children, dependent family etc.) can apply for priority status, and they are allocated first. New this year is a second category of priority, for people who didn't get any of their three preferred choices last time. The rest of us are picked in a random order, and if none of our choices is available, then we get whatever's left.

I have two simple criteria for my preferences: inclusion of the services that I wasn't exposed to in my B placement (dietetics in the community rather than in hospital, diabetes, and weight management), and distance from home. There are only three choices within commutable distance, and one of them was my B placement, so I can't choose that one. The second is part of the same countywide service as my B placement, but I'm not sure if it can offer me the right opportunities. The third is commutable from Nottingham, so many of the other students are including it within their choices, which seriously reduces the odds of me being placed there.

I am resigned to the idea of living away from home during the week, as long as I don't have to live in on-site nursing accommodation, and if I can find a cheap method for long telephone calls to friends and family (e.g. Skype). My plan at the moment is that I'll look at the clinical picture first, and then try to pick the far-flung places that are likely to be unpopular with the other students, most of whom would like to be able to commute from their homes in Nottingham.

The very good news is that I have been enquiring into exactly how things work in terms of dates for exams and placements, and have established that there is a window of about two weeks in January when the exam period will definitely have finished, but placements will not have started. Combined with the two facts that dad had some treasure to sell which he generously wished to divide between his grateful offspring, and that my brother-in-law is an ebay wizard, and bingo! A snow-related activity holiday for me and Mr A is now being planned.

[The house is looking lovely, but there is an all-pervasive smell of paint hanging around. Pictures to follow, honest.]

1 comment:

aims said...

Everybody sounds like they haven't quite come back from the break. I'm sure as the term advances things will pick up.

Awaiting pics - promise!