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MedSoc Newsletter Issue 2 – November 2014


WELCOME!!! Welcome to the second issue of the NUIG MedSoc newsletter for this academic year!

We have lots inside this publication, including updates on all our events since our first issue articles on summer research, applying for an Erasmus semester, and an introduction to some of NUIG’s other medically-based societies. Of course, we’ve also included lots about specific student achievements – an extra congratulations to Ger Browne (4th Med) who won the Gold Medal for Research at the Undergraduate Research Day recently, and to all of NUIG’s Henry Hutchinson Stewart Award Winners (this year NUIG scooped half the awards available!) As always, make sure you’ve signed up to MedSoc to hear about all of our educational and social events throughout the year – MedBall is coming up, along with some more great educational events! There’s more info inside on how to sign up to become a member of the society…… The MedSoc newsletter will be published 2-3 times per semester, and our next issue will be a mini Christmas issue – so if you want to get involved, be sure to check out the details on page 43… For the moment though, I hope you enjoy this issue! Love, Caoimhe Chief Editor, MedSoc Newsletter


Page Number







MedSoc Trip to Lahinch


Masquerade Ball 2014






Good Luck and Congratulations!


TedMed NUIG 2014


USMLE Talk with Brian Stewart


Ebola – A Talk from the Frontlines


Erasmus in Switzerland 2014!


Web Design Adventures…


To Galway and Beyond!


Summer Research (Clinical)


Students for Health Equality


Galway Student Race Day


Overheard in NUIG MedSchool


Summer Research (Lab)


Diary of an Erasmus Student




Getting in Touch….


MEDSOC TRIP TO LAHINCH! This year, MedSoc organized its very first surf trip for the premeds, 1st meds and second meds to Lahinch for the 10th-12th of October. It was organized as an opportunity for the years to get to know each other a little better, especially for the premeds and the new 1st meds. People had the option of going for the weekend and staying in the B&B or going for the weekend, staying in the B&B and doing some surfing lessons while they were there…. With only 70 tickets available they were all bought within 2 hours, making this inaugural surf trip an immediate success. Good weather was scheduled for the area and the bus left the Quad at 6:00pm with the full 70 on board. The craic was had the following 2 nights with Cian McLoughlin, Niall O’Connell and Isobel Forde sorting out the entry to the Nightclub and the surf lessons with ‘Ben’s Surf Clinic’ on the Saturday morning and afternoon. Guitars were provided by the hostel so the partying continued long after the nightclubs closed. Cian, Niall and Isobel were also the ones who made sure that the same 70 people who got on the bus at the Quad, were the same people who got back on the bus at Lahinch on Sunday afternoon – although we defninitely thought about staying down in Co. Clare for a while longer!


Lorcán O’ Maoileannaigh 5

Masquerade Ball 2014 On Saturday October 18th , the annual Masquerade Ball in aid be of VSA (and put together by your very own MedSoc!) took place in the spectacular Markree castle, Sligo. When the clock struck 8, students and doctors alike began to fill the foyer for the Prosecco reception (kindly sponsored by O’Brien’s off-licence), to the music of the Inisfree String Quartet. With masks of every colour, shape and size , the castle became a sea of hidden identities . Following a delicious four course meal , the raffle in aid of VSA took place. With prizes from hotel stays to gym memberships , it was with great anticipation that the tickets were drawn . Congratulations to all the lucky winners on the night. After the plates had been cleared and the wine emptied we began to spill out of the dinning room to dance the night away. The fantastic JigJam and DJ Karen Spellman satisfied everyone's musical taste , even throwing in a quick “Siege of Ennis” !


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors on the night . There are too many to be listing off completely , but notably I would like to mention Karma nightclub and the Skeff , MPS and ROM Sligo. ROM gym in Sligo have been kind enough to donate raffle prizes, sponsorship and they also provided two handsome security guards for the night! A massive thank you also to everyone who helped organise this years event. The ball was a huge success again this year raising over €5000 for VSA!! Start saving for your ticket next year, as its sure to be even better than ever …….

By Kate McCarthy, MedSoc Co- Auditor


Now, an update on what EMSSI have been getting up to since our last newsletter, and on the events they have planned for the near future‌. The NUIG branch of the Emergency Medicine Student Society of Ireland launched for 2014/15 on October 15th. The evening began with a short talk on progressing through the Emergency Medicine training scheme in Ireland by Mr. James Binchy – one of the Emergency Department consultants here in UCHG. This was followed by a series of hands-on emergency skills stations with a regional theme. Included were the management of a suspected overdose patient, how to apply slings, haemorrhage control, a car accident simulation, managing an unresponsive patient and a tour of an ambulance. Big thanks must go to the Paramedics, Civil Defence and EMSSI committee members who provided their skills and time on the night. We also appreciated the contribution made by Mike Smith and the School of Medicine for their provision of the necessary equipment. We will be running out next event entitled "what would you do?" on Wednesday 19th November, starting in the small lecture theatre of the CSI at 6:30PM and we hope to see as many of you there as possible!


Fiachra Morris, EMSSI Auditor 2014-2015


MEDSOC 5-A-SIDE! A cold and wet night in the Corrib Village cages was the setting for the MedSoc 5-a-side football tournament, supported by Mr. Waffle, The Skeff/Karma and the NUIG ladies soccer team. With 12 teams and 60 players taking part it was a busy evening with plenty of talent and passion on show. There were teams representing PreMed all the way up to 5th Med, and the competition was fierce. Norfolk and Chance (3rd) , Sporto FC (3rd) and The Midnight Doggers (4th/5th) all topped their respective groups and along with Victorious Secret (Premed), they made up the semi final pairings. Lovely crepes and waffles from our friends at Mr. Waffle kept everyone's energy levels up, and the fantastic support from the younger years for their classmates' teams was great to see. The Midnight Doggers and Victorious Secret eventually progressed to the final in two fantastic matches, with the score 2-1 and 1-0 respectively. The final took place as the rain really started coming down, with the Doggers defeating their younger counterparts 51. Player/Waffler of the Tournament went to Fiachra McHugh from Premed who was a fantastic goalkeeper throughout the tournament, and especially so in the Semi - Final. Fiachra will receive a Mr. Waffle voucher. Trophies and medals for the finalists will be presented at MedBall. Thanks again to everyone who took part, spectated and enjoyed the night out afterwards in the Skeff/Karma and to our sponsors for all their assistance! Keep an eye out for more MedSoc Sporting Events throughout the year ď Š


Fiachra McHugh – Player/Waffler of the Tournament

By Kevin McMahon (3rd Med) – Who also organised the entire tournament, and to whom we owe a big thank you! 




Congratulations also to the NUIG team who competed in the Jack Flanagan Competition – they placed second and were reported to be “unbelievable!”. The team included final year students Simon Neary, Aoife Kirk, Lauren Hughes and Matthew Smyth. The Jack Flanagan competition is a geriatricspsychiatry case based competition, where teams of final medical students from each Irish medical school compete for the coveted Jack Flanagan Medal in Geriatric Medicine. We’re very proud of the NUIG team’s achievement!

Best of luck to Simon Neary (final med) and Seán Mooney (Fourth med) who will be representing NUIG at the Annual Spike Milligan Public Speaking Competition at the end of November this year! Hopefully once again, Spike will be “going Wesht!”


TEDMED Live took place in Galway on the 12th of Septmber following the incredibly successful event organised by Tariq Esmail in April this year. Given the short time frame to organise September’s event due to a time change from TEDMED, it was decided to run the event on a much smaller scale, with the option to drop in a see a video or two! The talks shown were selected to give an interesting and varied mix of medically related themes including talks on topics such as organ donation, surrogate mothers, placebos in medicine and a new anti-HIV syringe! We were very grateful for Dr.Flaherty dropping in and giving a talk to those who attended on the event on our hopes and aspirations for the coming year. We hope next year we will be able to run the event on a much larger scale, with speakers from NUIG taking part in the event. If you are interested in helping in the organisation of TEDMED Live at NUIG 2015 please drop MEDSOC at email! (contact details on last page ď Š )

By Carl Byrne, Education Officer with MedSoc 14

USMLE TALK WITH DR. BRIAN STEWART! MEDSOC was happy to welcome Dr. Brian Stewart back to Galway, where he recently held a talk on the USMLE application and exam process. The talk took place in AM250, and Dr. Stewart tackled particular aspects of the USMLE that impacted on medical students studying in Ireland. Dr. Stewart is hoping to host another talk in the coming year on exams in general. After attending the USMLE talk the next talk is certainly one to mark in your calendars!

By Carl Byrne, Education Officer with MedSoc 15

EBOLA – A TALK FROM THE FRONTLINES… On the 21st of October, Medsoc and Friends of MSF co-hosted a talk by Dr. Diarmuid O’Donovan, and Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald. Both doctors spoke to a large crowd about their first hand experience of the ebola outbreak, how it is being handled, and what the projected impact would be for those countries affected. The talk was well received by the audience in AM250, and a large number of questions followed the talk.many of which centred on the potential spread of Ebola to Europe, and Ireland in particular.

By Carl Byrne, Education Officer with MedSoc 16

A new light was shed on the outbreak, away from the media-influenced outlook many held before the talk. Unfortunately for those countries affected the future economic implications could be crippling. The talk enlightened a number of students about the medical management of patients in an outbreak, and really helped the audience appreciate the devastating implications such an outbreak can have on an affected population. Keep an eye out for similar educational talks run by MedSoc over the coming months! ď Š 17

ERASMUS EXPERIENCE IN SWITZERLAND 2014!! Ciara travelled to Lausanne, Switzerland on Erasmus in Spring of this year, and has written the following article about her experience! – it’s well worth a read for anyone considering applying for the programme 

By Ciara Conlan, Fourth Med

I jumped at the chance when I was asked to write this articleanyone who knows me may know that I like to talk about my Erasmus experience in Switzerland. A lot. (Sorry guys!) Finding out that I had been accepted for the erasmus programme was such an amazingly exciting day- Then came a barrage of French forms that I barely understood- stumbled through and somehow got everything in time to the right place or person. I had a month of placement in Galway before I left for Switzerland- I lived in a hostel with two of the others who were coming to Lausanne, Julie and Sarah. The hostel was an interesting experience! Partying in the hostel with people from all over the world, than waking up early, putting on professional clothes and negotiating our first experience of hospital placement. Amazingly, two people we met in the hospital were students from Lausanne. Armed with a readymade friend group, we were ready to go.. 18

I took a flight to Geneva on January 28th (a day earlier than the rest of the group...organization is not my strongest point.) I arrived to my student accommodation, (Falaises) and thought I might have gone to heaven. I had a room with a balcony, overlooking the city of Lausanne, Lake Geneva, and the Alps. There was a communal kitchen on each floor (shared with 15!) which was an ideal way to make friends. At first I was too shy to speak French- so everyone I met spoke English to me. I kind of regretted this later, as my confidence improved in French, it is hard to change the language you already speak with your friends.

Hospital was‌ scary. At first, I felt quite lost. For the first month I commuted to a hospital, 2 metros and bus from where I lived. I was the only medical student, and although everyone was kind, nobody spoke a word of English to me. It was a geriatrics hospital, set on top of a hill in the beautiful Swiss countryside. The patients all had their own rooms (or a twin room), and they all had amazing views from their window, a full menu to choose from every day and daily visits from the physio, the OT and the doctors. In a public hospital! All patient records are computerized (no such thing as sifting through a heavy chart with loose pages and indecipherable handwriting). As a student I had my own access to the computer system, and any records I needed for case reports etc. The dress code was casual which was relief to me! Many days I wore jogging clothes and my aasics clumpy gym runners under my white coat. Even the consultants wore jeans and converse which was pretty cool. I thought it took some of the hierarchy out of the system. 19

My next placement or ‘stage’ was in cardiovascular surgery. Finally I worked in the hospital that I could see from the front door of the accommodation! Again, I was the only student on the team.. but all the younger doctors were cool and friendly, the whole team eats lunch together which is pretty nice. They let me do so much! I scrubbed up for every surgery. The first surgery I ever scrubbed up for happened to be a heart transplant! It was awesome. There was great excitement that morning, everyone was talking about the “Greffe cardiaque” a term I completely misunderstood until they were cutting this guys heart out right in front of my eyes! My first job in this surgery was to “break the ice”. I literally thought they were asking me to tell a joke until they handed me a massive block of ice that I had to smash so they could put the new heart into it. That was also the first day I had both my hands wrapped around someone's’ beating heart.. That was a quite a kick!

I then moved on to abdominal surgery. Again I was thrown in the deep end being the only assistant with the consultant in surgery for a massive umbilical hernia. I also had my own phone to answer, I had to write discharge letters, present patients among other things! Of course I mostly ended up using the phone like a walkie talkie with the other Irish students… This was the month the penny dropped that we had been sent over to work as ‘stagieres’, which are the equivalent of interns in Switzerland. As a third year, all I could say was thank God they didn’t give me any more serious responsibilities!


Of course, it wasn’t all about the hospital, though the hours were long (at least 10/day!) we had loads of time for a social life, travelling around Switzerland, hiking in the Alps, a jazz festival, wine tastings, eating eating eating (so much cheese and chocolate!) and drinking coffee. I became involved with a fantastic, inspiring organization when I was there, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. Their annual conference happened to be in Basel, I went and had literally the best weekend of my life, meeting young students from all over the world who had the brightest ideas on Global Health I’ve ever heard.. I made amazing friends who I’m still in touch with. And I know I couldn’t have done it without Christine, Sarah and Julie. (Merci les filles, je vous aime de tout mon coeur!). I would highly recommend erasmus to any of the younger years. When you get home, its hard, you go straight into exams-and you feel like the previous few months were just a dream. But a really exciting, vivid and unforgettable dream….



By Sam Fanous – MedSoc Secretary

I was fortunate enough last year to take on the task of designing MedSoc’s new website (which I’m currently in the process of revamping). It was quite an enlightening experience to say the least; and, I didn’t realize that I would have enjoyed designing it as much as I currently am. The Medsoc website was the first website I ever designed. At first, I had help from a friend of mine back in Canada who introduced me to the process of design and how things work – he really helped me get the ball rolling. I hadn’t realized this before hand, but there’s almost an endless amount of options with what you can do with a website – it all really comes down to how creative you want to be! The website is currently being revamped for a few reasons. Over the last year, the website was up, the majority of hits we got was through the blog posts we had. I really wanted it to be seen more as a resource for students and a site where students can share opinions on experiences they had.


The technical design of the website took me a bit of time to get used to. It’s not so clear cut as doing A+B=C. Sometimes things don’t work out quite as well as you wanted to, or certain apps/plugins might not be compatible with your website, which can make things a tad tedious. However, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment when you see the finished product and realize that this is something you designed from scratch (although this might just be the computer nerd in me getting super excited about it haha). All in all, it’s been quite a thrilling experience, but, I can’t say I did it all on my own. I’m currently collaborating with the wonderful minds of Carl Byrne and Caoimhe O’Sullivan on ways to improve the site and make it more of a resource for students in the future – so stay tuned!

Mina Guindi (First Med) and our own Sam Fanous. You can read an article by Mina on the next page….. 23

TO GALWAY, AND BEYOND! By Mina Guindi, First Med Galway. Where do I even begin? First and foremost, my name is Mina Guindi, and I am 19 years old. I moved from Manitoba, Canada, nearly two months ago, to attend Medical School at NUIG. Upon moving to Ireland, I was feeling anxious about the turn my life was about to take. Like any other teen, I worried about the move itself, the new social life, the academic stress, and the independence. From the very first day though, I knew that my transition into life here was going to be very smooth. It didn’t take long for me to notice how welcoming and sweet everyone is in Galway. Living in a student-oriented town really does have its perks as the majority of the city is composed of a population that lives to survive college, so the majority of people you interact with have the same struggles and goals as you. Personally, this has made my transition into life here much easier, as I have been able to find support from classmates since day one. The hospitality in Galway really has lived up to its name so far. Alongside Irish hospitality, I fell in love with the city itself. My first visit to Shop Street initiated my admiration for the cozy atmosphere found in every shop, cafÊ, and pub. Galway as a whole really does provide the classic image of a beautiful European town, where life is laid back and calm, but very fun at the same time. 24

One thing that amazes me to this day is how well the Irish community knows how to have a good time, or good “craic” as ye would say. As a former North American student, the fact that the city as a whole turns into a party on Thursday nights, really does astound me because back home, no one goes out on weekdays. Here though, even if there is a 9:00 AM lecture, students are willing to sacrifice a bit of sleep and brain cells. Why? ‘cause it’ll be grand, sure’ All in all, I have been very happy with my move to G-town. Putting aside the fact that it rains 23 out of the 24 hours of the day, and the occasional homesickness, I have nothing to complain about. The city as a whole provides the perfect environment for successful, fun filled college years. NUIG itself is a fantastic university that provides nothing but support and progress to its students. Also, the campus is just too beautiful. Walking past the quad, you realize you’re as close to Hogwarts as you can get! Anyways, to conclude, I’d like to say that I truly look forward to the next 4 and half years of my life here in Galway. Travelling abroad for university really is one of the best decisions a young adult can make! 25

Summer Research‌ By Clodagh McDermott, Fourth Med Summer Research is a fantastic opportunity offered to all NUIG medical students, whether they are in clinical or pre-clinical years. Every year medical students are given the option to carry out a research project, usually within a personal preferred field. For anyone who is happy to give up some of their free time during the summer months or for the individual who gets bored lounging around their house all summer, research is definitely a beneficial way to spend 8 weeks. Research allows one to learn something new and to challenge oneself in new ways. Students get to experience a completely different aspect of medicine and work as part of a team. Realising that Doctors and lab technicians are real people is a good experience in itself, a mini-epiphany some may say. NUIG’s summer research programme provides an opportunity to get involved in both laboratory research and clinical research. It teaches one the skills required to critically analyse scientific papers and journals and allows the application of the statistics we thought we would never need to use when struggling with SPSS in first med!


Students’ writing and presentations skills are undoubtedly improved during this experience. Not only do students present their research findings at the Undergraduate Research Day in NUIG, but many are fortunate to travel to various National and International Conferences, to present their research. Indeed some students are lucky enough to have papers published in well known, national and international journals. In addition, the Journal of Medical Students, Galway was set up specifically for publication of student’s research and accepts papers from all areas of student’s summer research. All of this looks good for the ol’ CV. The career we have chosen requires us to keep up-todate with the most recent research to ensure we are competent in our field. We need to know about that latest clinical trial of drugs or that new treatment method so as to provide the best care for our patients. Immersing oneself in a summer research project and getting first-hand experience certainly gives a deeper understanding of the medical topic being examined and shows each student the importance of research. Summer research gave me a better understanding of the value of research to medicine and a realisation that my learning will not be finished after final med, which is not necessarily all that bad!



By John Paul Murphy, Third Med

Students for Health Equality (SFHE) is a relatively new society within NUI Galway. Founded through the Explore initiative by Manisha Sachdeva under the guidance of Director of Public Health Diarmuid O’Donovan, its aims are to raise awareness of issues of health inequality both in Ireland and abroad and to try to be an advocate for those who struggle for the right for healthcare access. In the beginning of November, alongside Universities Allied for Essential Medicine (UAEM - another new society in NUIG), we aimed to tackle the issue of healthcare rights. SFHE co-hosted a showing of the documentary “Fire in the Blood”, a moving piece about the effort of developing countries to gain access to unaffordable western medicines.


Future events this semester include a talk on the provision of healthcare in Ireland, with guest speakers Brendan Kennelly, professor of economics with a special interest in health economics and Su-Ming Khoo, Vice-Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences. The talk is on Tuesday Nov 18th at 7.30. More details will be on our facebook page. Our other upcoming events are a talk on the issue of blood donation for gay men and people with mental illness, the following Tuesday, Nov 25th, and an event next semester on the issue of access to healthcare for Irish travellers. Again details will be posted through facebook and by email to our members. Students for Health Equality is a small, but very active group with a very motivated committee. We hope you’ll join us by signing up at socs.nuigalway.ie or contacting our facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Students-For-Health-Equality-NUIG


By David O’ Reilly, Entertainment Officer, MedSoc

Galway Student Race Day 2014 was held on the 27th of October, and this year managed to attract a huge 4,500 students. On a windy late october morning, those brave souls donned their finest attire to get down to the races at the early start of 13.35. As the crowds ushered in, the atmosphere intensified and by three o'clock there were people singing and dancing in the safety and warmth of the Killanin Stand - known as the “student stand” for the day. Each ticket entitled you to a €5 free bet, so no doubt everybody tried their hand but as always it seemed there was more losers than winners! Ruaille Buaille, an upbeat modern trad band provided entertainment and seemed to go down a treat. The Hole in the Wall kindly provided €500 cash for the Best Dressed Lady - going far in student pockets. As the racing completed, we all went to celebrate/mourn our losses but either way a great day was had by all. Electric Garden and Theatre and FourFour kindly looked after those of us who were still around, providing free entry for everyone with a ticket! A fantastic €15000 was raised to be split between NUIG Rugby Club and Voluntary Services Abroad. This is a credit to the hard work of both organisations, especially to the race day committee who put in all the hard graft. A special mention is deserved for Katie Shanahan and Kieran McMullan who steered the ship throughout the weeks running up to the event. A big thanks to everyone who bought a ticket to support and we look forward to seeing you all again next year….. 30

OVERHEARD IN NUIG MEDSCHOOL… At the Wine and Cheese Night… • “I told her I’m 18, she’ definitely going to get with me!” – PreMed to a 4th Med…… • “If I give you this drink, will you give me a wristband for Karrrrrrmaaa?” – hands empty glass to 4th Med… • “you were very inspirrrarrritttiiion…….. Irinnnnnssspppporrr….. You made me happy.” – very happy 1st Med to MedSoc Committee….

• “I’ll shift you if you give me a wristband?!” – male 2nd Med to our Education Officer……

• “YOU SHALL NOT PASSSSSS!!!” – 1st Med to our education officer. Moved after approx. 0.00002 sec of staring……..

At the VSA Quiz Night….. • “So you’re like….. queen??” – 1st med to our Auditor Lisa….. She kinda is though....  • “are you our class rep?” – Premed to our education officer…… • “Why are you so tall???!” – premed to our education officer – totally understand why that NEEDED to be asked – he’s at least 8 foot!

At 5-a-Side Tournament… • “man, there’s gonna be so many reach-arounds tonight!” – during the pre-med vs final med match… • “Dude. I play Rugby.” – explanation for a dirty tackle by one of the 2nd Meds…..


SUMMER RESEARCH….. By Robert Mulligan, Fourth Med Last summer I carried out laboratory based research in the Discipline of Surgery, NUI Galway. To be honest I was less than enthusiastic when I initially applied to do summer research and only really filled out the application to keep my options open. I had heard differing opinions regarding the importance of undergraduate research from various qualified doctors. While many were of the opinion that it is of vital importance to start your research career early, others told me to enjoy my summers while I had them. It is likely that most of us have been presented with these two points of view and unfortunately I’m still not in a position to say which is correct. Nevertheless, I submitted my application and was offered the opportunity to work in the department of surgery (which wasn’t one of my three preferences but in fairness I had left my application to the last minute!). With the help of my supervisor I submitted my funding applications and was lucky enough to receive a research scholarship from the Health Research Board (HRB). My project was focused on breast cancer genetics. Although my initial work consisted of data entry my supervisor offered me the opportunity to gain laboratory experience and as the summer progressed I began to spend the majority of my time working in the lab.


Throughout my summer I performed DNA extraction from whole blood and buccal swabs, prepared plates for genotyping using PCR and performed allelic discrimination. Even though that might not exactly sound like the most exciting use of one’s time and of course there were times that I wished I was somewhere else (especially when all the pictures of your friends adventures are clogging up your home feed!), I really did enjoy working in the laboratory.

I got on well with the other students and lab staff. They made me feel very welcome and were always more than happy to help me out. Regardless of what branch of medicine you eventually specialise in, laboratory experience will be beneficial to you as the principles and techniques that you learn are applicable to a wide range of disciplines. You also learn to work as part of a team with individuals with different scientific backgrounds. Your research experience depends primarily on your subject matter, your supervisor and your effort. That being said, even though I didn’t have much interest in surgery I still had a very positive experience. So don’t be disheartened if you’re assigned to a discipline that you don’t see yourself working in in the future. Take a chance and you might surprise yourself!


Your direct supervisor (usually a PhD student) plays a huge role in your research experience. This is particularly evident in laboratory research where you will be learning new skills and gaining exposure to different techniques and procedures. My positive experience was largely due to my supervisor. She provided with all the support I needed over the course of the eight weeks but also allowed me to do my work at my own pace and in accordance with my own personal schedule. We worked as a team over the summer and she has continued to support me with regard to preparing for presentations and further research opportunities. The amount of effort you put into your project largely determines what you will get out of it. To date I have presented my work at The Sir Peter Freyer Surgical Symposium, the NUI Galway undergraduate research day, The Atlantic Corridor Research Meeting, UCC and I have been accepted to present my work at The Society of Academic and Research Surgery meeting in January which will take place in Durham University in the UK. We plan to submit our findings to a number of other national and international research conferences and hope to have the work published when the project is complete. Carrying out summer research also provides you with the opportunity to work closely with senior clinicians which can prove beneficial when you begin to apply for programmes that request references.


After finishing my project I went travelling for the month of August and I would recommend that anyone carrying out summer research have something to look forward to when your project is finished. It is your summer after all and we all need a break from the books at some stage! As of yet I don’t know what impact, if any, having conducted summer research will have on my future career but overall I was very happy with my decision to do it. I’ve learned a huge amount about the research process, been accepted to present at both national and international conferences and still managed to have a great summer.


DIARY OF AN ERASMUS STUDENT… Orla Cullivan is a 3rd Med who is heading to Uppsala, Sweden, on Erasmus during semester 2 this year. She’s keeping a diary for MedSoc about her experience, an excerpt of which will be published in each issue of the newsletter. In our first update this year, she told us how she had originally applied for a place on the programme…. Keep reading to find out about her preparations so far…… The news I had been waiting for eventually arrived on the 20th of June; I had been selected for the 2015 Erasmus programme. Wooooo celebrations! However, the e-mail received didn’t specify where I was going or who I was going with. It was all a bit mysterious to be honest... That weekend was spent not unhappily drowning in a mixture of anticipation and euphoria. On the Monday, all was revealed; I was going to Uppsala! I do not exaggerate when I say I was hopping off the walls and dancing with delight. And the cherry on top was that I would be going on this wonderful adventure with one of my very best friends/favourite people in the whole wide world. What more could you ask for? We received a subsequent e-mail that contained words like ‘Complete and return Application Forms’ along with some ‘useful’ links. Allow me to be frank: none of those links worked, with the exception of the one that led to the official Uppsala Universitet website. The others could have led to Narnia for all I know. Navigating that page was like trying to read Double-Dutch backwards, (and before you start, yes I was reading the English language version). You see? I told you I was useless at this sort of stuff. There’s hope for you all then so.


I made my way to the ‘Courses in English’ section. And lo and behold...Medicine was nowhere to be found! When I tried typing medicine into the search box I was directed to a page listing out Masters courses in Neuroscience and the like. Frustrating is a rather inadequate word here. I subsequently repeated this goose chase on about 7 separate occasions. No idea why, I guess I just expected a miracle to occur. Turns out those are in short supply these days. But, I did find the admissions application form for the university. (Yay!) In my infinite proactivity, I simply did...nothing. I sat on my hands for a few time before I e-mailed Lisa, my fellow Erasmus-ee. She had been volunteering in Tanzania for the past few weeks, like the good Samaritan she is, and so had previously been unattainable. She hadn’t even received the e-mail from the faculty when she was finally able to check. I forwarded the e-mail to her-a problem shared is a problem halved as they say-and together, yet counties apart, we scratched our heads. The main issue was that the form was asking for information we simply didn’t have; what modules we would be taking while abroad, what modules we were taking now, what our exam results from 3.1 were etc. We hadn’t even gotten our timetable/modules for 3.1 yet, let alone the modules for 3.2! We did a bit more puzzling and then I decided to send the med faculty here and SOS e-mail (i.e. a ‘help me I have no idea what I’m doing’ sort of thing). The reply (in paraphrase): here are the new application forms, enjoy. The “new” forms were essentially the same as the old ones. *Face palm* 37

Anyway, before I had a myocardial infarction over this (see what I did there?), I decided to do the only possible logical thing: I went Inter-railing. Of course! Sure what else would you be at?! Lisa soldiered on in spite of my absence, bless her. I’d be lost without that girl (*emotional tears ensue*). When I returned, we had a têtê-à-têtê on the matter. She had already completed her form and posted it off to the CSI in Galway, so she divulged her secrets. She was convinced she’d done it wrong. I copied exactly what she did anyway. (Upon reflection, I realise that’s not great life advice to give; don’t copy anyone. Ever. Unless that person is Lisa) I hand delivered my paperwork in to the office, since I happened to be in Galway at the time. As I proffered the envelope I warned the lady behind the desk that it was possible, nay, probable that I had made a right mess of it. She reassured me that it was grand and that, in any case, it was Uppsala’s problem now. Truly inspiring.

In mid-September I received yet another e-mail, this time instructing me to fill in the Erasmus traineeship form. Basically it’s just a generic application form except that it requires some important, grownup information like bank details. Did I forget to mention that participants in the Erasmus programme get a grant? As in: money. Well, now you know! Haven’t a notion of how much it’s worth though. Needless to say, this will not be the last form I see. The deluge of paperwork had begun. And it hasn’t stopped yet. 38

Now, on an entirely different note, there is a slight caveat to bear in mind when you accept an Erasmus place. In short; finding accommodation to suit your needs is nigh impossible. At least, in my experience it was. In long; I had every intention of landing on my feet and finding a place early, but unfortunately that plan did not come to fruition. Because of reasons. Not to scare you, but it’s a slight ‘Poison Chalice’ element, if you will, to be conscious of. Obviously 4/5 month leases are exceedingly unpopular, and the slight ‘accommodation shortage’ that materialised out of the blue this year certainly didn’t help matters. There was no way I could commute from Cavan. Thus ensued a nightmare week consisting of endless sifting through housing websites and harassing (but in a nice way) potential landlords. Nothing. Nada. Just when all hope seemed lost, a single shining star shattered the darkness. A friend (and fellow classmate) happened to have a spare room in her house-with a flexible lease to boot! Salvation! Now we’re living happily together our contented home. To end on a positive note (because alacrity is not to be underestimated): Despite that horrible week spent faced with the prospect of homelessness, I wouldn’t change a thing….. 

Look out for our next issue, where Orla will have another update…. 39


MEDSOC INVITES YOU TO…….. MEDBALL!!!! MedSoc’s biggest, craziest ball of the year is back! MedSoc is delighted to invite you to the annual MedBall. Following on from the phenomenal success of last years Circus themed event, this year we are pleased to announce our theme is :

LAS VEGAS!! For those of you who haven’t experienced the wonder that is MedBall before – and without giving too much away! – here’s what you might expect from the night…  To be wined and dined in the fabulous surroundings of the Radisson Blu Hotel.  To dance the night away to the musical stylings of not one, not two but three different acts – the amazing Converse All Stars (making a welcome return to MedBall), the institution that is DJ Byrno and the internationally renowned two piece act, Naxxos!  To take your chances on our casino tables and many other games.  Following a (hopefully) swift recovery, to continue the party the following day in the College Bar where the legend that is Buck Taylor will be playing!  And finally, to head over to Karma that night for one last hurrah before Christmas!

Hope to see ye all there! Love MedSoc 41

Q: HELP! I wasn’t able to get a full ticket for the event. What do I do? A: FEAR NOT! Given how popular Med Ball has become in recent years, it is difficult to ensure that every single person who wants a full ticket will be able to get one. The fairest way we have found of combating this is to sell tickets on a first come first serve basis, while also taking the names of anyone in need of a full ticket in the unlikely event that a ticket is returned to us. Thankfully we have increased the number of afters tickets available for this year so everyone will be able to enjoy the MedBall experience! These will be on sale as soon as full tickets have sold out. By Lisa Flynn, MedSoc Co-Auditor

Q: How do I choose where to sit? A: To make sure everybody gets to sit where they want, we have created a table booking system where groups who would like to sit together can book a table. As this is a trial system we will only be accepting full tables of bookings, and anybody who wishes to keep their seating spontaneous on the night is more than welcome to do so!


A HUGE thank you to everyone who contributed to this issue of the MedSoc Newsletter! Want to get in touch with the lovely MedSoc Committee………? • Email: medsoc@socs.nuigalway.ie • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NUIGMedSoc • Website: http://nuigmedsoc.com/ • Or come up and chat to any of the Committee Members at any stage, see us at SocsDay, or come to any MedSoc event 

P.S If you’re interested in writing an article for the MedSoc newsletter, or have any interesting ideas for it, either get in contact with MedSoc as above, or email c.osullivan20@nuigalway.ie  43


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