On the road (again)

Posted by Tom Coope

Just as I was beginning to settle back into life in Cardiff, it’s time to hit the road once more. As you progress through medicine, the majority of your time is spent on placement in hospitals or in the community. Most of these take place in the areas surrounding Cardiff, but eventually it involves travelling further afield to hospitals across Wales. This time I’ve headed west to Pembrokeshire.
Some students initially dislike the idea of going away on placement. There’s a certain apprehension about leaving the familiar streets of Cardiff and not seeing particular friends for a little while. For most people, these anxieties soon disappear after settling in during the first week. Residential placements are actually a good way to meet other people on the course, some of whom you might not have spent much time with before. It’s also quite exciting to explore new towns and cities.

Your accommodation is always provided free of charge and it’s usually of a pretty good standard. It’s a bit like being back in Halls again, with an individual room in a small flat. It can feel a bit odd living on a hospital site at first- my room is opposite A&E, which was a bit disconcerting initially. On the plus side, it means there’s a very short morning commute! If you’re based in Cardiff you have to get up quite early to travel to nearby hospitals for 9 o’clock.

There’s always plenty to do when you’re away on placement. Usually there will be a few people with a car, so it’s easy to explore the surrounding area. In some of the more rural settings, there’s plenty of opportunities for those who like the great outdoors. Pembrokeshire, for example, is famous for its beaches and there are a few keen surfers among the group of us currently based there. I won’t be braving the icy waters myself but am happy to watch the waves from the safety of the shore!

I find that time spent on residential placements goes very quickly. I’m in Haverfordwest for 8 weeks, which is the longest time you’ll spend away from Cardiff, and it’s already speeding by. I think the opportunity to spend time at different hospitals is a really good aspect of studying medicine here. You get a really wide experience of how healthcare is delivered in different settings and after 5 years of studying in Cardiff, it’s quite nice to have a few weeks away from time to time. Placements aren’t unique to medicine, many healthcare courses offer them either as an integrated part of the course or an additional opportunity. It’s definitely something to consider when deciding where to apply.

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