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Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Robert Tucker

Meet Robert Tucker, BLSA LGBT+ Officer and third-year MBBS student. Robert is currently running unopposed for BLSA President. 

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Hi Robert. Could you tell us a bit about what year you are in and what placements you are currently on?

I'm a third-year medical student, with my current placement being in general surgery at Royal London Hospital. It's a great balance between the classic pace of ward-based medicine, but with emergencies in A&E resus and surgeries to scrub in.

But to get to know me a bit better, I'm from a small area in North Devon originally and spent my education in community schools before joining Barts and The London (so that was a bit of a culture shock!)

 

What is your experience of how Covid-19 has impacted studies and clinical placements? 

University has been especially tough this year. After exams and studies were abruptly halted in March during my second year, I came back in September to a very abnormal start to my clinical years of medicine with no placement during the first term which was for all our safety and importantly for patient safety. This changed once the 2021 new year hit, and I was introduced into general surgery at Royal London Hospital.

This hasn't been my only exposure clinically to Covid-19, as during the summer I worked in a community pharmacy as a dispenser & healthcare advisor - I did this as it was an important side of community healthcare that I knew very little of, and because there were statistics circulating of a 30% increase in prescriptions with no extra support given to pharmacies.

 

So you are running unopposed for BLSA President, and results are out in early March. Is there anything you particularly want to achieve with your year in office? 

Yes, although it's hard to fully decide on things as even in the last 24 hours the situation regarding Covid-19 and University keeps changing! I'd like to think we could have a new start from September (or at least during the next academic year somewhere) where things can get back to normal. I was planning to run in a year or two, but next year would be so interesting as we get to start afresh somewhat, such as deciding on the regular events the SU put on (rather than just continuing with traditions that students don't engage well with). In short, I think the events side next year has to be a big priority as we've spent too long without much social contact now!

Another aspect I would like to focus on is around teaching consistency and stability. Being a third-year MBBS student, I spent an entire term with no clinical placements and no real in person-teaching. My entire degree changed around in every possible way, from cancelled OSCE exams, different logbooks for placement skills and an entirely new 'progress test' format for our exams.  I don't think I could sit around while another year group experienced that. If these changes were just because of Covid-19 then the University will need student feedback to decide on which to keep in the long-term, and which to drop as soon as the pandemic is over.

 

Do you know yet which area of medicine you would like to specialise in? 

I've been very lucky in my years during and before studying medicine, getting experience in paediatrics to geriatrics, mental health to sexual health, and small district hospitals to large London ones. I'm still very undecided and I think it's best not to pick a speciality too soon while studying medicine as there's a very long road ahead before picking an end goal, but my favourites so far are gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics, general medicine or GP!