Day in the life of a clinical student

It’s no doubt that clinical years mark the best years of medical school — the years of studying books and attending classes can now finally transition into what it would feel like as a doctor.

Clinical years are all about building your practical skills and your communication skills, as well as exposing you to what it’s like to be around patients and other health care staff. It’s about reinforcing all the theory learnt during pre-clinical years with details relevant to actual medical practice.

As a clinical student, almost all our time is spent in the hospital. Starting the day early, we would first attend ward rounds with our assigned team. For example, if we have been assigned to the Cardiology team, this means that we would follow a team of cardiology doctors to each patient on the ward under their jurisdiction and check on how each patient is doing.

We would then attend any clinical activities the team might have that day, such as clinics or theatre. Outpatient clinics are similar to a GP clinic that you might have attended yourself, but instead of a GP, it is one of the doctors on the Cardiology team seeing patients with heart problems. As students, we are able to sit in clinics to see patients with a doctor, or in some cases, we might even be allowed to see patients on our own for us to practice before we report back to the consultant doctor!

Theatre refers to the operating theatre if you are attached to a surgical team. We can watch surgeries being done and once in a while, we can scrub in and assist the surgeon as well!

Clinical students are also assigned to bedside tutorials, which involves a doctor teaching a group of students next to a patient (who has given their permission). We are otherwise also allowed to roam on the wards and talk to patients ourselves to take a history from them or practice a physical exam.

Lectures are also still a part of the daily routine of a clinical student. During the day, we might be scheduled for a lecture or tutorial by a consultant at one of the hospital’s lecture halls or rooms. Sometimes, these lectures might even be streamed from a different hospital.