Keele Medical Taster Day – A St Wilfrid’s student’s perspective

The day begin ridiculously early with all the supervising teacher clutching coffee in their hands. It was still dark outside, and the coach was waiting, the air crisp, the atmosphere exciting, makeup undone. It would be foolish to say the bus was full of the excited ramble of awaiting students as everyone wanted nothing more than to cosy up in their seats and drift to the land of nod. However, as the sun rose higher and higher over the Pennine mountains so did the noise. The Year 10s had commandeered the back of the bus while me and my friends the middle. We were all waiting eagerly to visit the campus which was, for most of us, the first university we had attended.

The journey was long, yet the morale was high and as we circled uneasily around the approaching 60s academic blocks the bus was suddenly quiet as the nerves began to set in. Every path on campus was bustling with colourful individuals rushing to lectures and the student union, myriads of people who had left the confines of college and school. We finally arrived at the medical school, despite some slight confusion which was overcome with the aid of a helpful student rep. The shiny modern exterior beamed with promise as we stepped through the revolving doors and donned our name tags. People of all ages stood nervously in huddled groups, the entrance in an ecstatic buzz as we waited for the day to begin.

The first room we entered was the lecture hall with chairs and benches tiered high and spanning the width of the room. We squeezed tightly into the seats awaiting the lecturer to begin. After greetings and formalities, a boisterous lecturer with cookie monster socks began. He was unapologetic and frankly explained, in sometimes excruciating detail, the realities of medicine and for me it only affirmed and consolidated my choice to take this career pathway.

After a variety of meetings and various perspectives from health professionals we moved aisle by aisle to the door to await our next activity. On the itinerary for us was urine testing and samples. We shuffled nervously with the rest of our group of commingled strangers and entered the university labs. Diagrams of human organs and skeletons mapped the rooms; flasks, vials and bottles of strange chemicals dotted the room. We seated ourselves evenly at the desks, the professor beaming at us warmly. Jars of suspiciously coloured liquid and test strips with a key for indications of colour lay at our fingertips. While we waited for the session to begin, we all mused if the samples were real urine. Luckily, we were swiftly assured it was synthesised urine and we all got stuck into testing the sample for protein, glucose and a whole host of other chemicals. The purpose of the exercise was to identify the signs of diabetes in a patient; however, we were not told this and had to apply our previous scientific knowledge to deduce the condition.

Next up was lunch, and being huddled into small groups we quickly made friends with the other students from places far and wide. Each had their own personal view on medicine and their expectations of the taster day but most of all it was just nice to meet and talk with new people and laugh and joke about the difficulties of being a Year 12 student.

The rest of the day past in a blur as we flitted from lab to lecture absorbing each detail of medicine; the highs and the lows. We had lectures on the application to medicine, the life of a GP and we even held a real cadaver’s hand! Upon reflection on the Medical taster day, I felt Keele managed to provide an excellent overview into the life of a medical professional with all the positives and negatives. Throughout the whole day we were immersed in medicine and nothing was idealised, with only the bare facts displayed. For me, the taster day only strengthened by passion to pursue medicine and helped excite me for the future to come. I had never been so motivated to strive and work hard to achieve a place at medical school because now I can visualise what it can be like and I only want it more. I am intrigued and have a strong passion to learn more in order to be able to use my knowledge to benefit all of humanity.

On the way home, tired and weary, we stopped with Zoe and the Careers Team for a well-deserved McDonalds, the day’s excited nerves and adrenaline slowly ebbing away. It had been a fantastic day and an amazing experience, and we had all left wiser.