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RUMS Alumni Newsletter

Welcome to the text version of the October 2013 RUMS Alumni Newsletter!

As members, this newsletter aims to keep you updated on alumni events, happenings going on at the medical school and stories from fellow alumni.

If you have already joined, many thanks for taking the time to become a member, we hope to be able to produce newsletters for our members on a quarterly basis in the future.

If you haven’t submitted your membership form yet you can access it online and send it back to the address listed. Future issues of the association’s e-newsletter will only be sent to members, along with information on exclusive events.

If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter then we would be delighted to hear from you. Just get in touch at joel_smith@hotmail.co.uk.

RUMS Alumni Annual Dinner

Following on from last year’s extremely successful Alumni dinner we are pleased to announce that tickets are currently on sale for this year’s event on Saturday 9 November.

Venue: Jeremy Bentham Room, The Wilkins Building, UCL
Dress Code:
Black Tie
£45.00 for all tickets
Wine reception from 7.00pm

Book tickets online - guests welcome.

Gold medal back at UCL

Recent graduate Sarah Lawrence brought home the University of London Gold medal to UCL after a 2 year absence. All the London medical schools offer their 5 highest achieving final year graduates the chance to attempt to claim the award. It is allocated after a viva in which prominent clinicians and academics grill the candidates across a range of subjects.

Sarah said of the award ‘UCL tends to win it most years and I think there's a good reason for that- there's no way I would have won it without the help of all the tutors, clinicians, patients and fellow UCL medical students who've made it a pleasure to study medicine here over the past three years.’

Since its introduction in 1903, the Gold Medal has been won on almost half the years by candidates from UCL and its constituent medical schools. Results from recent years show that UCL students won in 9 of the last 12 years.

Well done again Sarah!

UCL 4th in the world

UCL has stormed to 4th position in the recent QS World University rankings. 2nd only to Cambridge in the UK, UCL takes its place amongst 6 British Universities in the top 20.  A pioneer of research and long associated with academic prowess UCLs reputation continues to forge itself a special place in the International arena.

The medical school certainly ably assists UCL in its position as a centre for academic excellence with 2013 graduates having the highest pass rate since the syllabus changed in 2005. Congratulations class of 2013!

The RUMs medic abroad

We are very grateful to accept an article from guest contributor Dr Dagan Lonsdale, currently a Med Reg at St George’s, Tooting, class of 2007.

‘Looking for a way to delay the decision of what to do with your career? Not quite feeling ready to be an SpR? Just want a year out? Find a reason. Then go and work in Australia. Let me tell you why: it’s awesome.

Interviews for jobs in the antipodes are tough. I was asked complex questions like: I see you play cricket, we need a fast bowler, do you turn your arm? – I didn’t actually take that job, they were cardiologists and it sounded too tough. I was lucky enough to get a job in intensive care, without an interview, just by emailing my CV. My fiancée got a job as a medic in the same hospital. She happens to be a brilliant doc, but even if she hadn’t had such an impressive CV she’d still have got a job, because the Australian system is set up in such a way that they expect families of medics to want to work close by (take note London deanery) and they work hard to accommodate this.  If you thought I made up the cricket line (I didn’t), you must now think I’m a pathological liar. I’m not. The Australian healthcare system cares about its employees. Actually cares. Here are a couple more examples:

The 36-hour working week. That’s right. 36. That’s your contract. Not to say you don’t work more than that, of course you do. But for every hour over you are paid over-time. Did I mention that Saturday’s are always paid time-and-a-half? Or that nights are paid at time-and-a-quarter? Or that Sunday’s are double-time? Work 30 minutes past your scheduled finish time and you are expected to let payroll know so that you can be paid the overtime.

Salary sacrificing. This sounds bad. It’s not. It’s great. I’m not going to pretend I really understand it, but here goes: it allows you to avoid paying tax on a proportion of your salary. Pay rent or a mortgage? Let your employers know and you won’t pay income tax on that part of your salary. It doesn’t stop there: cars, flights, holidays (yes, holidays), exams, bus fares, all tax deductable, not at the end of the tax year, as you go along. One friend, who admittedly worked for a private hospital, could even nominate an amount to spend in restaurants each month!

So, we’ve established terms and conditions are great, but what about the actual work? Well, we thought it was brilliant. Hospitals are well staffed and safe (there are consultant ward rounds at the weekend). Trainees are encouraged to take advantage of educational opportunities wherever possible and there was lots laid on to attend. Everyone was friendly. Including the neurosurgeons.

What about life? Well, it was far from awful. Highlights include the gold coast, sunshine coast, great ocean road, Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne, sunshine, great coffee, friendly people and breakfast- they are very good at breakfast in Australia. They do have sharks though. Six deaths (of swimmers, not sharks) in the year we were away. Australia, if you are reading, here is why: Australians have two ways of deterring sharks from swimming with surfers. The first is to put a big ball of bait out to sea a little way for the sharks to eat instead of people. An appetiser if you like. I’m sure my psychiatry trainee friends will agree that this is clearly mental. Second, they use a shark net a few hundred feet out to sea. This sounds like a good idea until you find out that the sharks can simply swim under it. Yep. Under. The net doesn’t reach the seabed. To be fair, when a shark is spotted, sirens blare across the beach to tell swimmers to get out of the water and a dozen boats are launched to find out where the thing has gone. Even this system isn’t perfect though as some surfers simply see this as an opportunity to surf in water free of other people. Either that or they are deaf.

Perhaps you are wondering why we came back? It’s a question we ask ourselves frequently. There were many reasons, with friends and family ranking prominently among them (it turns out Australia is a very long way away), as well as the small matter of our wedding. There was also the draw of London. Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are wonderful, but they are just not quite London. And finally, whatever the faults, we realised we still love the NHS.’

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