Block: Elective, week 4
I really need to update this thing more regularly - it's supposed to be for my own therapy so I have somewhere to discuss my feelings etc, but I neglect it shamelessly. Aside from anything else, it gives off the impression that I only come here to make negative posts. Talk about publication bias!
GP was in January and February. From my last post I think it's quite apparent that I was in a very low period...2014 had been a very tough year and it hadn't ended amazingly well. A trip to GPland was just what I needed (though I didn't realise it at the time). So often as a student on hospital placements it's easy to feel totally disconnected as you try to slot yourself into a busy ward on a temporary basis. It's very easy to feel "in the way" and especially if you end up attached to a team where the consultant doesn't really take an interest in teaching you, it's very easy to feel lost, which raises stress levels, which doesn't help learning or mood.
Thankfully with GP it was different. My GP consultant was very friendly (as were the nurses, receptionists, patients and the caretaker!) and very keen to get me involved in seeing and managing the patients. The block was extremely well organised with regular teaching and clinical skills sessions, and all the tutors were really helpful and keen. It's the first block I've had since starting clinical medicine where I've felt I've really been able to enjoy myself with minimal stress.
It's also the first block where I've felt there's been enough time to actually talk to the patients. On a busy ward it's so easy to feel like a spare part, even if you take the time to take a history from a patient and present it back to a junior doctor it often feels like you're not really making a difference. But in the GP practice there was enough time to see the patient (who's often coming in with a brand new problem), come up with a diagnosis and a plan, present it back to the GP, then have it acted on. It felt like I was actually doing something. Me, the student!
I think the best way of alienating a medical practitioner (even one as formative and junior as I) from their job is to make them feel ineffective and as if their work boils down to box ticking and meeting targets. Targets can come in all different kinds of sizes and shapes, from government ones to med school demands on the number of reports you need to hand in per block. GP block does not have any reports which need to be submitted, just a logbook, so I was able to spend this eight weeks solely immersed in the medicine as opposed to running around trying to get signed off for this and that. Getting reacquainted with just how fun and amazing talking to patients can be is exactly what I needed to regain my motivation - something I was quite concerned about on New Year's Eve!
In mid-March I passed my first summative exams since starting the clinical phase of my course - very pleased with that! It had been a stressful few weeks leading up to the exams (as usual) and there had been no time set aside for study leave. I finished GP block on a Friday and the exams began on the Monday - but thankfully I managed to pass both written and practical parts which means...
...I roll onto the final year of medical school in September! It's nearly all over! Finals to go this time next year, then god help us all, I might actually be a doctor!
And I have more confidence in myself now since the fact that I've passed means that I must have been learning in an effective way since I started clinical medicine 14 months ago. Again, this was something I was worried about on New Year's Eve, so it's good to have some confirmation that things are going to plan!
Educational and illuminating - I'll do a proper post on this in a couple of weeks when I've finished.
If anyone is still reading this blog, I hope you're doing well.