Sunday, 18 October 2009

The course enters the real world.

To my left-hand side sits a sheet of paper entitled 'Advanced Quantitative Methods - Assessed Coursework: Worksheet 1'.

To my right-hand side sits a pile of my old undergraduate study aids, module guides, notes and help sheets.

Directly in front of me sits my laptop and, next to that, three textbooks, one intimidatingly large yet deceptively simple, the other two smaller and more advanced.

What do these myriad documents have in common? If I were to hazard a guess I should suggest that they were faxed to me direct from Hades by Satan himself, written in his own blood and printed on the compacted bones of history's greatest tyrants. But in reality the truth is far more sinister. For what links these formidable documents is a word, one single word, that strikes fear into the hearts of countless generations of poor psychology students.


Or maybe it's just me. See, I have always struggled with numbers. Words, on the other hand, have always come naturally to me, flowing from my lips (or as is increasingly the case, fingertips) without any kind of difficulty, but numbers, with their logical structure and stubborn insistence on being 'right or wrong' make me want to curl up into a little ball and cease to function.

Anyway, this was not supposed to be a moaning entry about the stats coursework I am currently writing. All you really need to know is that I looked at the questions, started to panic, stopped panicking and all of a sudden it all started to come back to me, albeit in a trickle rather than a flood.

No, my real intention for this entry was not to moan about statistics, but to rejoice in how wonderful Thursday was. Every other Thursday, as part of our 'lesion approaches' module, we are invited over to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery for a real life case presentation.

What this entailed (although obviously I can't be specific, in the interest of the confidentiality of the patient) was a short talk from some of the senior doctors about a specific patient, how their brain has been injured and how the injury has affected the patient. The patient was then brought in and took part in a short mock examination whereby the doctor tested various aspects of cognitive function with a series of standardised tests. We were then given the opportunity to ask the patient questions about their injury and subsequent experiences. The patient then left and we had a discussion about the case and the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions about the case.

It was absolutely fascinating, and really brought this MSc course crashing into the real world. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the patient at coming in to discuss such a personal and traumatic experience, and I feel that these case presentations will be an incredibly valuable part of the course.

Oh well, that is quite enough enthusiasm for one entry. I must get back to the utter joy of these statistical calculations.

Wish me luck!

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