On the Cambridge Graduate Course in Medicine, these are the three final placements before finals, each being six weeks long. They are relatively low key in terms of assessment and specific attendance requirements (e.g. sign-off sheets etc), so it’s up to you how you want to split your time between finals revision and ward work.
I had the medical placement first, and it is the most time-intensive one of all due to small group bedside teaching with consultants of various medical specialties. I also used this placement to become comfortable with the common F1 ward tasks and daily ward routines, and afterwards I shifted my focus exam preparation. I tried to also attend clinics during the medical placement, in order to remind myself of the other medical specialties outside the ward I was placed. Even though some consultants think that one should be present exclusively on your ward, I think it’s absolutely important to see patients all throughout the hospital in all medical and surgical specialties. My advice would be: decide on particular times you want to make an appearance in your ward, for example during consultant ward rounds, and then use the rest of the time to prepare in the way that works best for you. Attending a few on calls out of hours was also a very useful experience, both in getting to do things first hand and gaining experience and confidence towards your F1 job.
Surgery was a pretty easy going placement. The firms at the West Suffolk Hospital are quite scattered in terms of their rotas, so no one will wonder where you are. The best time to make an appearance is when your consultant is on call, as this is when most work needs to be doing. In addition, find out when they do their usual ward rounds, the surgical ward rounds are over relatively quickly, so it’s not as painful to attend as some medical rounds. Again, attend the odd out of hours shift if you can. I found I still spent quite a lot of time on the medical wards even during my surgery placement, as this was where I felt I learnt the most.
The anaesthetics and acute medicine placement was my final placement prior to finals. I used the time in A&E to practise for the communications skills exam in finals, and attended only the compulsory parts of the schedule to create time to study.
All in all, I aimed to go into the hospital three days a week. On these days, I’d sit down ahead of time to make a list of what I wanted to get out of it and then stayed for rather long days, using the rest of the week studying at home. (My brain works best when I can focus on one thing only, if you’re actually living in hospital accommodation then doing half days of each may be better for you).