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ENT – Ophthalmology – Dermatology

These are three one-week placements taking place between September and Christmas of the final year, depending on which cohort of students you have been assigned to.


How you will spend your time


The content of these three specialties is quite extensive, so there is a lot to go through in a single week each. Thankfully the schedules aren’t overly packed, so there is some time for book-work to keep afloat. I managed to go into the placements quite well-prepared (for the first time ever – thanks to my year out). I found this helped massively to make the most of clinics and so overall I found these placements quite useful.


Which books to use


For all three specialties, I used the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties.

For ENT, I used Surgical Talk as an Introduction, and then used ENT at a Glance.

For Ophthalmology, I used the Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology, which I really liked as it does not have any pictures (I am not a big fan of red eyes!).

For Dermatology, used Dermatology at a Glance, as well as Differential Diagnosis Dermatology (Richard Ashton). The latter I can strongly recommend, even though slightly outdated (2004) – it is a very logical and useful book with great categorisation and pictures. I got it from the library hoping to be able to buy the new edition soon.


How to use the resources on medportal.


(Medportal is an internal Cambridge site with information for medical students.)

ENT  – there are some lectures on the Medportal which are useful to get an idea of the syllabus.

Ophthalmology – there are a lot more lectures with useful clinical content.

Dermatology – there are quite a few podcasts which are a starting point for further reading. Sadly there are few podcasts that are useful as a standalone resource given the amount of time it takes to listen to them.




In terms of assignments, you need to fill out a log-book for each of them, the dermatology one being the most work of all. Make sure you read them prior to or during the attachments so you make sure you know what to do and what to get ticked off. This also applies if you do the Senior GP placement first – there are some sections to be completed during the Senior GP placement. It is a lot of paperwork to complete, having to write down the learning points of almost every condition in the book, but it does provide some structure for your revision


How to prepare for the exam


The three specialties are not formally assessed until the final exams. Take particular note of the links to systemic disease of some of the ophthalmological conditions, as these are most likely to come up. There may also be a dermatology stations in the final OSCE, so make sure you know learn how to examine and describe skin lesions, as well as come up with a differential diagnosis.

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