Intended for healthcare professionals

Student A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

A day in the life of a medical student from Portugal

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 19 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:m4503
  1. Stijntje Dijk, PhD candidate
  1. Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  1. stijntjedijk{at}

In the series that takes you into the lives of medical students across the globe without leaving your chair, BMJ Student spoke to a Portuguese student who returns home from university every weekend

“The city of Coimbra is completely empty. No one stays there on the weekends, it’s the students that make the city of Coimbra come alive. I feel like I still live in Porto with my parents. During the summer, you find only tourists and a few locals in one of the six Portuguese cities that host medical schools,” says Catarina Rodrigues, a sixth year medical student. She arrives at her shared apartment in the city late on Sunday evening every week, ready for classes on Monday morning.

“Portuguese students have many traditions,” Rodrigues continues. “In May, we say goodbye to the final year students. We wear traditional heavy black costumes, together with a top hat and a cane. During a parade, you invite everyone that has meant something to you to hit you over your head with your cane. They give you three kisses and one kick on the butt for good luck.”

Another tradition is for groups of students to raise money to decorate a truck with criticisms of the government or the state of medical education in Portugal. …

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