Le Document pour MB.ChB.II

The inspiration for this document came during my second year while studying for an end-of-block test. At the same time, the then-first years were studying for Pathology, aided by “Le Document”. [If you are a Tygerberg Medical student and you don’t know Le Document, I really pity you.] Anyway, somewhere in this time period I looked at a fellow second year, threw my hands in the air rather dramatically and exclaimed, “I wish I had a Le Document for Second Year!”

As you read this document, you will notice that it is markedly different to the one you used during your first year.

  1. It is not focussed on a single module – because the point of your second year is to have a more integrated view on the human body and medical practise. Your patients will not present to you as a system, but as a body (even if you are a super-super-specialist).
  2. It is not in Question-Answer format – because that was for first years. In your second year you will often find that you are required to answer things you didn’t even know were being asked.
  3. It is application-centred – because this year, you will be swamped by theory; you really don’t need any more 🙂

Thus follows some good advice (well, I think it is good advice) and some fun-to-know information. Most of it is subjective, but acquired from a torturous second-year. Much of it you may only truly enjoy by the middle or even the end of your year. Either way:


Weight loss in your second year

Some of you may be lucky enough to lose weight this year. While it may be attributed to the demise of First Year syndrome or, for a few unluckies, an endocrine disorder (think hyperthyroidism), it could simply be an indication that you don’t have time to eat anymore. If the weight loss is unwanted, eating will be a suitable remedy. Eating is important. If this fails, you may want to visit your GP (but not the third year student who wants to practise drawing bloods on you).

Weight gain in your second year

Others will find that the pounds don’t in fact melt away. The Talley-O’Connor may tell you something like “You are eating too much” or “you have an endocrine disease” [it’s always an endocrine disease!]… well, you might just have Second Year syndrome. This is much the same as First Year syndrome, except that it comes as a complete surprise. Like lung cancer in a non-smoker. It happens.

“Second Year Syndrome: It’s like first years’ syndrome, but with added madness.”


This syndrome, which usually manifests during troublesome blocks such as Digestive System, is characterised by storming into res, ensuring that no member of the opposite sex are in the vicinity, and promptly getting undressed. Hot weather and stressful weeks contribute to the occurrence of this behaviour. Requires no treatment, but coffee-breaks and mutual support are curative.

Five-hour coffee-breaks

These are best appreciated in the week preceding a major test or exam. They start as half-hour study breaks and involve the progressive increase in shared midnight snacks. Conversation may drift from academic stressors, family life, babies, the opposite sex or just plain sex, with little but some variation between genders. Like any drug it can do a tremendous amount of good within the right context. Not recommended for students who have not studied at all by the second day before the test.


A common occurence in female Tygerberg students. Remits when ignored.

Symptoms-of-whatever-I-am-studying syndrome

More common than initially anticipated. With the increase in knowledge of the human body and the many things that can break it, students may start experiencing symptoms of the disease which they are studying. Know that while it is normal, excessive belief in this experience may be damaging to your health (and your medical aid). It is particularly recommended that male students gain control of this condition before commencing the Reproductive module.

Skin de-pigmentation

A completely normal side-effect of above-normal studying.


Get some. Try to sleep in at least once over a weekend. Your body will love you for it.

An “uitstel”

a.k.a, deferred exam. These are dangerous and lead to studying on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Only opt for an uitstel if you/your wife is giving birth or you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dropping of marks

Students may find that their performance is markedly reduced from MB.ChB I to II. Many believe that first year in fact makes one stupid. Second year thus requires the re-learning of study methods. Attendance of class helps a great deal in passing, particularly if one desires above-average marks. Textbooks, if time and money permit, are of great value and should be utilised.

A Fake Sick-Test

Notoriously under-reported with the only major side-effect being guilt, and only in certain students.

The Urogenital System

In this module it is quite alright to feel violated. If you have never read a Mills&Boons, do yourself a favour and read Chapter 55 in Clinical Gynaecology (textbook).

Some sound advice: The Urogenital Textbook, sold by Faculty, costs R200 and one book contains both an Afrikaans and English section. If money is tight and you don’t consider books to have feelings, find a friend and split the money and the book. If you tell anyone I said that I will deny it vehemently.

Psychiatric symptoms

A great many neurological and psychiatric symptoms may appear during this year. Considering the circumstances, some of them may be described as variations of normal. Do seek help when they become unmanageable. If done in time, major loss of function can be prevented.

“Making Sense of ECGs” by Houghton and Gray

The book that saved my ass. If ECGs don’t come naturally to you, this is definitely one to consider.


Not just for your body. Maintain this in your social and emotional life as well. Students are often tempted to study eighteen hours a day and reach the end of the year with virtually no life-experience. Never underestimate the value of a good movie, a glass of wine, a trip to the beach or a game of touchies.

Reproductive System

An interesting module for most. The little swimmers don’t know your plans for the future though, or your age. And “chai-vees” don’t care. If abstinence is not your thing… Use protection.

Confused Circadian Rhythm

What happens when eating and sleeping patterns go awry. Normal from this year forward. Survival rate is excellent, but morbidity is high if not reset when possible.


The lucky break you get when you write an end-of-module test on a Friday. Find out what works best and then use those two and a half days as though it is the last off weekend you will have in the next four to six weeks. Which it is.

Hypo- and hyper involvement

In keeping with the old adage, too much of anything is never good. Either of the above can negatively impact one’s CV, life-experience, relationships and health.

Syndrome [e]X[am]

  • Tachypnoea
  • Tachycardia
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia/hypersomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Cold sweats

But most importantly:

Rememeber that nothing needs to be as bad as people say. It is only as bad as you make it. Enjoy your second year – it (hopefully) only happens once.


  1. Lindany Mabaso says:

    wow! These post are intrested at the same time gives hope.

    1. barefootmegz says:

      I am glad! Good luck!

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