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Starting Medicine

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Emeritus Staff
Starting Medicine


Congratulations on your acceptance into Medicine :) Now that you've been offered a place, there is a number of requirements you must fulfill before you are allowed to study Medicine. Also, there are some things you should buy, which will ease your transition into Medicine. This article will serve as a guide by detailing the things you should consider now that you have gotten in. Please note that this only acts as a guide, and may vary depending on university. If you are unsure, visit your uni website, or ask on the forums.

[h1]CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK[/h1]
A criminal record check is conducted by the Police Service with the Department of Health and the university, and usually occur in the student's first year of enrolment. All satisfactory documentation must be provided before clinical sessions commence.

To have a criminal record check, you must provide satisfactory personal ID (usually a passport and driver's license) to a police department. For the National Police Certificate Application Form, and/or a list of the forms of ID accepted, see here. This is sometimes coordinated with the university, and the required documentation must therefore be provided to the university.

Criminal record checks will be carried out only in relation to the following classes of serious offence:
  • Sexual offences
  • Serious offences involving a threat or injury to another person
  • Other serious offences (defined as offences committed which are punishable by penal servitude or imprisonment for 12 months or more in the state that the University is in)

These checks often take 10-15 days to process, so ensure that they are conducted well before the start of semester. Once the check has been conducted, it must be sent to the Department of Health along with a Criminal Record Check Consent Form.

You will be issued a Clearance Letter when a satisfactory police check has been completed. It must be retained for the duration of enrolment in the Medicine Program, and must be presented whenever attending a clinical placement in a health facility.

[h1]WORKING WITH CHILDREN[/h1]
Medical students must also fill in a Prohibited Employment Declaration, to declare whether or not they are a 'prohibited person' before starting Medicine. This is a requirement for all medical students, as they will be working with children.

A "prohibited person" is one who has been convicted of a serious sex offence which is defined as an offence involving sexual activity or acts of indecency which is or was punishable by penal servitude or imprisonment for 12 months in the state in which the university is in.

[h2]QLD - Blue Card[/h2]
Medical students in Queensland (UQ, Griffith, Bond, JCU) will require a Blue Card (to certify that they may work with children) in order to work in Queensland Health facilities. You can download the current student blue card application form here. After you have completed the form you can submit it with your documents of identification for free at your university.

[h1]IMMUNISATION AND BLOOD-BORNE VIRUSES[/h1]

[h2]Adult Vaccination Record[/h2]
Students are also required to comply with the current occupational screening and vaccination program, and must fill in the Adult Vaccination Record , or your state/universities equivalent, before commencement of clinical sessions.

This card is provided to you by the Department of Health, and details the vaccinations required. In most states, documentation of an immunity to Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella and Tuberculosis must be recorded. Fluvax is also recommended. Acceptable evidence of an immunity to these diseases can be found here.

To check if you are immune to these diseases, ask your GP for a serology testing the above diseases. They will then provide you with the vaccinations required. To test for tuberculosis, a Mantoux test is sometimes required (however not all universities' need evidence of this). This will often have to be arranged at a local hospital or chest clinic, as most GPs won't provide it.

For an example of what the Adult Vaccination Record should look like, click: here

Note that most universities will not check if this card is filled in. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that all vaccinations are carried out.

[h2]Infectious Diseases[/h2]
Students enrolled in the medical program must also be aware of their infectious status. Prior to commencing clinical sessions, you must be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Note that these results are confidential, and a student has no obligation to inform the Faculty, however they should seek advice from a specialist as to how this may affect future training. A student who is aware that they have a blood-borne infection must not undertake exposure-prone infections.

[h1]SENIOR FIRST AID CERTIFICATE[/h1]
Students must have successfully completed a WorkCover accredited First Aid Certificate. Students must book and pass a first aid course, and will receive a certificate which they must take to the university. For more information about first aid courses, see St John's Advanced First Aid and Red Cross Basic First Aid. [Could someone please write more information, and check if these links are right (i've directed them to the correct first aid course)].

[h1]TEXTBOOKS[/h1]
Textbooks are a great resource in Medicine, and you should think about buying them when you start Medicine. The following list will provide some recommended textbooks, and it is suggested that you look through these at your university library. However the final decision of which textbook to buy should depend on which one you are most comfortable with, not the one which is most commonly used, or the one which your university recommends. Make sure you take your time before buying these, as they are rather expensive and it is important to find one which supports your learning style the most.

There are several things that must be noted; the first is that medical textbooks are only very rarely the work of a single author. A well-known example is Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine - whilst Fauci is listed here presumably as the author, there are three other main editors, a few dozen authors of chapters and hundreds of contributors. The second is that there are certain fields where textbooks become out of date very quickly, such as physiology and pathology; and other fields where textbooks have barely changed, such as anatomy and biochemistry. Where you can, purchase textbooks that are the most recent edition, but this is especially so in the faster moving fields, and fairly irrelevant in the case of slower moving fields. Finally, each university has different recommendations and different areas of study, as well as different methods of teaching. So first and foremost, look at your university's booklist first.

[h2]Suggested Textbooks[/h2]
[h3]Anatomy[/h3]
For anatomy, an anatomy textbook, and an anatomy atlas are recommended:

Gray's Anatomy by Standring
This is an enormous textbook, and is brilliant as a general anatomical resource. However, this textbook is grossly inappropriate as an anatomical textbook for medical students for all but the rarest exceptions. If you have relatives who are purchasing textbooks on behalf of you, make sure they are not mistaking Gray's Anatomy for Students, for Gray's Anatomy.

Gray's Anatomy for Students by Drake
This is a good anatomy textbook, with plenty of illustrations and diagrams to aid the learning of anatomy. Whilst it may be inferior to other anatomical textbooks in terms of sheer textual detail, it is by no means inferior to you as a medical student, because understanding the basics is significantly better than trying to study in depth about unnecessary branches of an artery, especially in the first year. Recommended as a good starter textbook, but if you have surgical aspirations, you may prefer other textbooks in the future.

Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Moore

Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy by Netter
An atlas is a valuable resource, and Netter's Atlas would be one of the best, if not the best illustrated anatomical atlases available. The CD-rom version of Netter's has a spot test quiz which may be of some use for exam preparation for an anatomical spot test, depending on the balance of cadavers and diagrams/illustrations that your medical school uses.
Rohen's Photographic Atlas of Anatomy by Rohen
An important part of learning anatomy is experience with cadavers, and whilst there is nothing that can replace hands-on experience, a photographic atlas helps in the identifying of structures on real bodies. The process of identification is significantly different in cadavers and photographs versus illustrations, as you tend to rely more on landmarks and neighbouring structures to orientate yourself. As such, a resource that has photographs of cadavers is definitely a helping hand in preparation for anatomy spot tests.

[h3]Clinical Medicine[/h3]
Clinical Medicine by Kumar and Clark

Clinical Examination by Talley & O'Connor
The vast majority of medical students, interns, residents, registrars and consultants recommend this textbook. Although it is excellent and should definitely be near the top of any medical student's shopping list, it is not a replacement for a more general clinical medicine text, as it's emphasis is not on the explanation of diseases. A page of Talley & O'Connor's Clinical Examination may mention two dozen signs corresponding to two dozen different diseases, but not go into the diseases, as it either assumes this is background knowledge or that you have another reference to reach out to.

Epstein's Clinical Examination by Epstein

[h3]Embryology[/h3]
Larsen's Human Embryology by Larsen

Langman's Medical Embryology by Langman

[h3]Histology[/h3]
Wheater's Functional Histology by Wheater

[h3]Microbiology[/h3]
Mim's Medical Microbiology by Mim

[h3]Pathology[/h3]
Robin's Basic Pathology by Vinay Kumar

Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease by Vinay Kumar
This is an excellent textbook for pathology and is definitely recommended. However, you will find out quite quickly that, although the textbook is sizable, Pathologic Basis of Disease may not go into the depth you want or need for a specific condition such as a tension pneumothorax on which it has a surprisingly brief paragraph. It also does not cover some of the other aspects of the disease such as public health statistics, as it is a pathology textbook.

[h3]Pharmacology[/h3]
Rang & Dale's Pharmacology by Rang & Dale

Pharmacology for Health Professionals by Bryant

[h3]Physiology[/h3]
Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton & Hall
As a textbook for medical students, Guyton is overall an excellent textbook that covers physiology in enough detail. It has better readability than Boron & Boulpaep, but also does gloss over some aspects which the authors must have thought were unnecessary. Guyton is slightly older than Boron, which may explain some discrepancy between the two and the validity of the information they hold.

Medical Physiology by Boron & Boulpaep
Boron and Boulpaep is not as popular as Guyton's Textbook of Medical Physiology, but is certainly a strong alternative. Boron's Medical Physiology compared to Guyton arguably has more detail and also excellent diagrams. Boron is also more current, which is evident in sections of neural control of respiratory function; and is more in depth about certain phenomena. This can lead to different understandings of the same concept, and was illustrated vividly during a PBL in which half of the group used Boron and the other Guyton, leading to an argument about which textbook was correct. What needs to be remembered is that physiology can move quickly and the most correct information is, generally, the latest information. However, most junior med students tend to find Boron's too detailed and far too difficult to read. It is however, an excellent supplement to Marieb or Guyton.

Human Anatomy and Physiology by Marieb

Human Physiology: From Cells the Systems by Sherwood

[h3]Medicine[/h3]
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine by Fauci
Although this is an excellent resource, this textbook should not be the first you purchase. The detail and comprehensiveness of Harrison's is rarely equalled, but this same detail may overwhelm first-year medical students.

[h2]Bookstores[/h2]
The places where you can buy these textbooks are:
  • Your University Bookstore
  • The Book Depository - This has very cheap textbooks (international edition), with free shipping
  • Booko - An Australian based media search engine which searches amongst popular bookstores including Amazon, Book Depository and Borders, and calculates the cost of that textbook including shipping to Australia.
  • Borders - Of an especial note is Borders, which currently has a '110% of difference' price guarantee for books purchased from Amazon.com, which, on occasion is priced lower than other online stores after shipping costs.

[h1]PRACTICAL CLASSES[/h1]
For Practical classes, especially microbiology classes or anatomy practicals, you must bring (and must therefore buy):
  • Disposable Latex Gloves.* You can buy cheap 100 packs at Coles or Woolworth's. Make sure that the ones you buy fit.
  • Lab Coat. Most universities require a white lab coat, which you can usually buy from the bookstore. Make sure that the sleeves are long enough, that it is big enough and that it has buttons. Choose a coat that reaches as far down your legs as possible, more protection for your streets from cadaver liquid is better.
* Many universities will provide this for you. You will be told during orientation or introduction lectures and labs.

[h1]CLINICAL SESSIONS[/h1]
[h2]Stethoscopes[/h2]
A stethoscope is usually required upon commencement of clinical sessions:

Littmann Classic II

Littmann Cardiology III

Littmann Master Cardiology


If you are in possession of a Cardiology II or I, take note that these are still excellent stethoscopes. It is recommended that your first stethoscope should not be priced over AU$250, as these stethoscopes tend to be superfluous for a medical student; but also not under AU$50 as the quality of the stethoscope may leave the inexperienced student wanting.

[h2]Hospital Clothes[/h2]
When you begin clinical sessions at hospitals, you will need to dress in semi-formal clothing.

For males, this includes nice pants, a button up and collared shirt, and leather shoes. A tie may be voluntary depending on the location of your clinical placement, but is often recommended. Observe your superiors (JMOs, registrars and interns) - if they do not wear ties you may not have to. If they do then you should too. If a tie is worn it should be accompanied by a tie clip to aid with infection control and patient interaction (i.e. physical exams).

For females, this includes a nice, button up shirt with a knee-length skirt or pants (shirt doesn't have to be tucked into the skirt). Conservative, knee-length dresses are also fine. Shoes must cover the toes, and can be flats or low heels. You can also wear a cardigan, vest, or blazer. In short, anything your grandma would think you'd look nice in.
 
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