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A Week in the Life of a Medical Student on Placement

Although everyone's time on placement is slightly varied based on which specialty they are studying at any given time, medicine student Hiya shows what a typical week looks like while on peripheral placement. 

Student training as a GP

Every week as a medical student on placement is a rollercoaster of experiences, from the exhilaration of watching emergency surgeries to observing treatment plans unfold in multi-disciplinary meetings. Every day, each ward, specialty, and hospital has its own rewarding experiences, offering unique experiences for significant knowledge growth and skill development. 

Weekends & Prep

As most peripheral placements are located in one of the towns outside Belfast, many students commute to the hospital accommodation on the weekends, which can be booked in advance. This allows them time to settle in and prepare for the week. Bus and public transport services are available to all hospital locations. This time can be used to organise resources, schedules, or even meal prep for the week. 

Meal prepping

Many students commute to hospitals at the weekend to meal prep and get ready for the week ahead


Students with access to cars or shared transport often choose to drive up to hospitals on Monday mornings, too! Most weeks will begin with induction sessions to the specialty that you will be placed on, followed by small group teaching and interactive tutorials. Often, you can book clinics for the afternoons and witness the range of outpatient consultations happening in secondary care. Alternatively, you can spend time familiarising yourself on the designated wards, speaking to patients, and completing histories, examinations, or clinical skills like ECGs, blood, or IV cannulations under senior supervision. 

IV Drip

Placements allow students to complete IV cannulations under senior supervision


Once inducted onto the ward, you can join ward rounds with consultants, starting from 8/9 a.m., following new intake patients, inpatients receiving long-term or acute treatment, and surgical patients. This is a wonderful opportunity to get one-on-one teaching from the senior consultants, registrars, and trainees in their specialties. It can also offer the opportunity to perform clinical skills and examinations. Often, days will be interspaced with lecture or tutorial-based teaching, with an incredible amount of variety ranging from lectures about acute kidney injury to small group teaching about emergency surgical procedures and suturing tutorials. 

Teacher showing students a skeletal model

Days will often include lecture or tutorial-based teaching


Wednesdays are allocated for five general practice sessions in one of the many practices in Northern Ireland in groups of 6. These are scheduled from 9-1, allowing you to speak to a diverse group of patients in face-to-face or telephone consultations. Additionally, you will conduct home visits to patients, make care plans, or complete histories and clinical observations. Remember to make the most of any opportunity with patients to develop your communication skills, clinical acumen, and understanding since patients provide incredible insights into their symptoms, perceptions, and conditions. 

Apart from the GP sessions, these days can be used to attend surgical opportunities, outpatient clinics, cancer screening clinics, watch endoscopies, or grab a quick coffee in the hospital canteen before catching up on lectures in the library!

Typically Wednesday afternoons are reserved for time off by Queen’s with a chance to relax, catch up, participate in extracurriculars and explore the many sights, cafes and restaurants in the town you are placed in. 

Northern Ireland coast

Wednesday afternoons: time to relax!



Attending clinical opportunities and scheduled teaching to work towards building your logbook of tasks is a great way to put your theoretical learning from years 1 & 2 into practice. For a more hands-on experience, ask to shadow a core trainee or foundation doctor. Alternatively, try to attend MDM meetings with senior specialists, oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons within your trust - connected to the Belfast trust online - to learn about the more complex cases, witness how multi-disciplinary teams collaborate and create patient centred treatment plans.


Thursday afternoons include 1 hour of live online teaching from Queen’s, focusing on a range of conditions, presentations, and specialties. Whenever you have the chance, watch these live and take the opportunity to ask questions. Alternatively, if you are in hospitals or clinics and aren't able to attend, these are made available online for you to rewatch at your convenience. 


Group of people on zoom call on laptop


Thursday afternoons include one hour of live teaching




The last day of the working week often includes mock OSCE practice sessions with final-year students or history-taking practice. A lot of the time, it can also involve bedside teaching, where consultant physicians or surgeons teach you in a small group environment with the help of a patient. This is one of the most enriching learning experiences, with live feedback and unique insight into conditions and management.


Like the rest of the week, this day can also be used to attend any other clinical opportunists in the hospital or clinic. Friday afternoons, much like Thursday, are used for Queen’s to deliver online lectures. 


 OSCE medicine checklist


OSCE checklist


Queen’s offers a 9-5 working day from Monday to Friday in hospitals; however, you can attend late intake emergency shifts, shadow night shift on-call doctors, late surgeries, and weekend surgical and medical intakes at your convenience!


Make the most of your placement


Ultimately, your time on hospital placement will be an extremely varied and gratifying experience; it is guided by the logbook, which informs you about skills you should be practicing, clinics or surgeries to attend, and the teaching schedule provided to you by the hospital. However, your time on the wards and in the hospital is primarily your own, with many prospects for personal development.


Student working on laptop


Your placement will be guided by a logbook and teaching schedule


While it is initially daunting to approach senior doctors or patients with feelings of imposter syndrome, remember that you are welcome and encouraged to learn and ask questions, making the most of your time as an independent professional student. It is also a fantastic opportunity to develop incredible friendships with peers in small and large groups!

Find out more

India country page - information for students from India

United Arab Emirates country page - information for students from UAE

Study Medicine at Queen's

Hiya Grover

MB BCh BAO Medicine | Undergraduate Student | Dubai, UAE & India

I'm a second-year undergraduate medical student at Queen's, originally from India; however, I've lived in Dubai, UAE, for the past 15 years. I am part of a few medical societies, namely Scrubs surgical society, SWOT, and QUB Cardiology society. Alongside these academic endeavours, I'm a committee member for the French society and thoroughly enjoy reading, horse riding, and volunteering in the community whenever I can! My journey to Queen's was a learning curve and a hugely gratifying experience; I hope to help aspiring applicants find their footing in this wonderful new environment.

Hiya Grover