Cardiff Blues’ Hallam Amos is within touching distance of completing his medicine degree at Cardiff University, after successfully passing his ‘finals’ exams during Wales’ triumphant Guinness Six Nations campaign.
The back three star played his part as Wayne Pivac’s side secured the Championship crown, but, in the run up to Wales’ win over England at Principality Stadium, he also faced his OSCEs, which is often considered the most daunting examinations for medical students.
Amos joins Arms Park heroes such as Jamie Roberts, Jack Matthews and Gwyn Jones in balancing his rugby with a career in the medical services.
While he still has a year of studies remaining in the capital, relief was the over-riding feeling for the Welsh international after his results came through, who is enjoying the challenge of finding a balance between his studies and his rugby.
“It was a massive relief,” explains the 26 year old.
“I was actually in hospital when I was waiting for my results. I was chatting to the registrar, who didn’t know I was anxiously waiting for them to come through, constantly refreshing my phone, even though the signal was pretty rubbish there.
“So they were sketchy few minutes for me but it was a massive relief in the end.
“It’s one of those things that weighs on your mind from a few years out and it was just nice to get them out of the way.
“I ended up going through the process during the Six Nations, which obviously has its own pressures, and I also suffered a concussion against Ireland in the opening match. So it was all nice and simple!
“But it worked out nicely in the end. We were all up in the Vale Resort throughout it all, and that was pretty useful when it came to revising.
“I had my own room, due to the Covid precautions, and it meant I could crack on with the work. The exam itself was during the week of the England game, which made it pretty interesting to organise it all.
“As it was my clinical exam, you’re taking the histories and examining patients, and it was hard to revise for that.
“But I did my best over Zoom with one of my mates from the course and luckily it all went well in the end.
“On a Monday, you’d have light training and weights in the morning, followed by a bigger afternoon of team training, and Tuesday would typically be the big training day, so there wasn’t a lot of time during those days to get the studying in.
“But you’d be done with everything by around five or six, so I was able to squeeze in a couple of hours in the evening.
“Wednesday tends to be your day off, so that’s where being stuck in the hotel proved quite useful for me.
“Towards the end of the week, as you’re approaching game day, training would tone down a little bit to make sure that everyone is fresh and then you’re into the game on a Saturday or Sunday.
“So it was a pretty full-on experience, with not much down-time, but when you’re in camp for the whole period it did give me enough time to keep the revision ticking over and for the other boys to play enough Playstation!”
While he’s not quite known as ‘Dr. Amos’ yet, passing his OSCEs certainly puts the finishing line in sight for the Cardiff Blues star.
But Amos also remains fully focused on life at Cardiff Arms Park, but admits he enjoys learning from his fellow medics at the club, such as club doctors Dr Gareth Jones and Dr Daniel Vaughan.
“The one’s I’ve just completed were the OSCEs, which are the clinical exams that tend to keep the medical students up in the middle of the nights,” adds the Welsh international.
“You go into a medical room and there would be a patient there. You then need to take their history and examine them, form a diagnosis based on the information you get out of the patient and discuss that with the doctor and examiner who are also there.
“There’s a lot of talk around the investigation and management, and because they’re face-to-face examinations where you’re quizzed by the doctor, they’ll often be the ones that scare students the most.
“You’ve also got the written exams, which are done all the way through, and you get used to them by now.
“Next year there will be a couple of national exams, which give you your ranking for when you become a doctor, but the really tricky ones are out of the way.
“I’m not quite finished yet. I’ve still got another year left at the medical school, which will take me to my ninth year overall, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
“I also did a neuroscience degree a couple of years ago, and I loved that, so I would potentially like to head down the road of something associated with that.
“That’s my thinking at this stage, but until you do the job properly, it’s difficult to say for certain which avenue you want to take.
“You get used to it by now. I’ve gone through eight years at med school, but before that I was lucky enough to be playing for Dragons while I was doing my A Levels.
“So I’m used to juggling my rugby alongside my studies and it can be nice to have the work at times, because you don’t over-think things on the pitch.
“It’s been a weird season for everyone as it’s been stop-start, so it’s been tough for anyone to string a run of games together.
“But things are looking well. Obviously we were really gutted to lose last week, and as Dai said in the changing rooms afterwards, we’d won that game three times over.
“But it was one of those games where we never felt that we’d lose until we did. So that was really disappointing.
“But going into the Rainbow Cup now is exciting. We might see some different combinations, which is great for the club as a whole, and hopefully we can go on to win the rest of our games this season and, when things become a bit more normal again next year, we’ll be in a really good place.
“If there’s been injuries on the pitch or you see medications prescribed to the boys, then I’ll speak to the club doctor about what he’s doing.
“One of the doctors at the club, Daniel Vaughan, comes in to do the clinic with us and works on matchdays, and I happened to work at his surgery during my GP placement, which was completely by chance.
“So it was good to see him in camp at Cardiff Blues and then see him in his natural habitat at the GP practice.
“For me, that’s a cool part of the job and the guys at the club are brilliant. We’ve also got Gareth Jones, who is very experienced and it’s great to be able to chat to them and get their perspective on things.”