Friday, 14 February 2014

The start of something new

Block: Community medicine, week 1

So yeah, further to my last post I'm going to be trying a new way of doing things on here...there'll be less focus on academic worries and exams, and I'll try to concentrate more on reflecting on what I've seen on placement about the nature of being a medic itself. Ultimately being a medic is more about being able to understand and work well with the job on a day to day basis rather than simply passing exams, so I think it'll be useful to reflect more on my experiences rather than just posting a list of grades every few weeks.

I'm not exactly sure how this will work just yet, but for this week at any rate I have tried to organise my thoughts into subheadings and I'll just try and write a bit on goes...

Finally growing up?

I'm in my 6th year of higher education. For the past six years or so, life has been pretty much exactly the same. I've gotten up in the mornings, gone to lectures/group work (if I've felt like it and if they weren't too early), panicked over exams, gotten results and moved onto the next stage of the degree. Lather, rinse, repeat, term after term, year after year, as I finished my teens and meandered my way through my twenties. The university and location has changed, but the actual routine has been pretty much the same since 2008.

Things are different now...I've finished pre-clinical medicine and what I will be doing from now until 2016 is completing a variety of different placements in medical and surgical specialties. I have no Easter holiday and a two week summer holiday in the middle of August. I have to get up each morning, make sure I'm shaved and presentable, put on some smart clothes and go to placement. feels like I'm finally a less of a conventional uni student and more of a grown up being trained for a real job. Of course...I don't get paid and I'm still not qualified, and even though it's only been a week, already it feels like the endless sequences of lectures-group work-revision-exams was a million years ago and this new way of doing things is going to be more similar to what the rest of my life will be like.

Despite feeling pretty tired this week (there have been early starts each day and a fair amount of traveling around), I feel happy with finally being able to do something a bit different and more grown up-ish. Being a clinical student feels a lot more like what I want and need at my current stage in life, although I can hear the cynics out there saying that this optimism is merely the honeymoon period. They may be right...but I very much doubt I'll ever really start yearning to return to group work.

The difference between this term and last term

Put simply...this time 3 months ago I was panicking about trying to remember exactly what the Loop of Henle does and earlier this week I was taking breakfast orders from patients and helping an elderly gentleman with his washing and dressing. 'Nuff said.

Ward rounds

So this week I've been based on a stroke unit...the hospital is small and friendly...there's a consultant and a registrar based on the ward and one morning I found myself joining them and a few nurses on the ward round as they went from bed to bed checking up on the patients and reviewing their medication, listening to their concerns etc.

This definitely felt like what being a medical student should be like...though it became slightly more demanding when the consultant asked me some questions and I got a few of them wrong. This was especially annoying since they were questions which I'm sure I knew the answer to deep down...perhaps it was a case of nerves and being felt like I was being put on the spot? At any rate, I feel that clinical medicine will involve a lot of instances of getting things wrong in front of my seniors and having to go away and make sure I learn it properly for future reference. Unlike before, there's no immediate exam pressure, only the desire to not appear lazy and/or incompetent in front of doctors and patients...which in some ways is more motivating than the threat of failing exams.

The bigger picture

Last week my (fairly new) phone broke. I was a bit gutted about this since it was my first smartphone (yes, I know I'm late to the game) and I'd barely had it a few weeks and it was already being sent off to repair at god knows what cost. I'd been enjoying using Snapchat and WhatsApp (it's like free text messaging, don't cha know)...and now I was phoneless for no good reason.

Then I turned up to the ward over the next few days and saw some of the pressures patients and their family members were under. Things rather more difficult and trying than a new phone breaking e.g. uncertainties over the future, housing, money, and so on. And that's not even considering the very obvious and serious medical issues which each of the patients and their families are facing as they attempt to adapt to life following a stroke.

I know that as a future doctor I can't negate all the annoying things in my life simply by remembering that the patients may have it worse. If I did that, I'd never be able to complain about anything ever again and it would probably lead to a lot of unconscious pent-up frustration...but at any rate, on this occasion, considering the bigger picture did bring me back down to earth slightly. I got myself a £10 phone to use in the meantime until my current phone gets repaired...I just hope the warranty covers whatever's gone wrong with it as I really don't want to end up spending loads on it.


I've been blogging for over four years now and this feels like a very different way of writing about things...but it's been good to get these things off my chest. Until next time then...

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