Our budding medics focused yesterday on one particular instrument that is fundamental to any doctor’s practice: the stethoscope. Invented in France in 1816 (for the ease of male doctors who were uncomfortable with putting their ear directly to their female patients’ chests), the stethoscope is a doctor’s first port of call in diagnosing a patient’s complaint: its role is in auscultation, or listening to the internal sounds of the human body; it is primarily used to listen to heart and lung sounds, to blood flow through arteries and veins, and to the intestines. Students were fascinated to learn how the instrument evolved from a rolled notebook placed between patient’s chest and doctor’s ear, to the design we recognise today, with a small disc-shaped resonator and two tubes connected to earpieces. Counsellor Sacha was kind enough to volunteer for an in-lesson demonstration of the stethoscope, to help the morning’s learning really “resonate” with the students.
With much to think about and discuss over lunch, students ended lessons there for the day, and took their fill of a delicious stir fry in the Long Gallery. Then, after some light postprandial activities on the lawns―giant Connect4 and badminton―students were loaded onto coaches for conveyance to a rather different activity, one during which a person can be either at their most active and alert, or reclining, perhaps lightly dozing, with a hand skimming the surface of the water: we speak, of course, of punting. From the launch point of Magdalen Bridge, the ORA flotilla made a rather slow and unsteady start, but with a few strokes under their belt students felt in control enough to initiate a mini-regatta on an open stretch of the Cherwell; it was a great triumph, with all completing the course upright and unsubmerged.
Once returned to dry land, students made their way to the grand and imposing Christ Church, one of the most famous colleges at the University of Oxford (not least in recent years for its representation in the Harry Potter films). First founded as Cardinal College in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, and re-established as Christ Church by King Henry VIII in 1546 after Wolsey’s fall from favour, the college has educated thirteen British Prime Ministers, more than any other Oxbridge college, and houses the Cathedral of the diocese of Oxford. Inspiring stuff, to be sure!