This week I completed my final placement of medical school- my GP placement. As if this wasn’t scary enough, the placement was outside of London…
I am not a native Londoner, but having been at Imperial for 6 years feel quite at home here- I have the commuter walk, grumpy sigh and tube stare. Having completed all of my clinical placements so far in London, I was apprehensive to be taken to Boscombe, near Bournemouth for my final placement.
How do people travel without the tube? I mused the night before. What about shops, they all close at 5pm? Do they even have big hospitals? Will I be able to understand how people speak? What if they all have strong accents?
Although I argued… there will be fresh air, there will even be a beach. Imagine that, the sea and sand- far from London’s Southbank. And things will be cheaper than London. I might be near enough to walk to placement. And everyone is supposed to be more friendly out of London too.
After a night of worry I arrived at my placement and was very pleasantly surprised.
Boscombe is a small town along from Bournemouth, with a pier and a huge beach. Along with the beauty of the area, it is a relatively deprived area, with many facing large social, financial and medical challenges. This pocket of Boscombe sits within a very affluent area, and as a result the placement was very different to my expectations.
I had expected GP to be filled by checking older patients blood pressures, adjusting medications, doing home visits to nursing homes and screening lots of children with coughs and colds. However, this placement was very different with huge extremes- some patients were seriously unwell, there was a range of mental health issues and I could see the impact of a really hard life on many. These patients were interspersed with sporting injuries of local footballers, worried affluent individuals and private minor surgeries such as botox.
I was struck by the dedication of the team to ensure that all patients, regardless of their background had the best possible access to medical services and care. They invested in technology beyond the usual scope of GP- including MRI machines and ultrasounds, made difficult prescribing decisions for the best health of their patients and supported community projects.
Not only were the team incredibly friendly and welcoming, but during my time I saw incredible clinical signs, medical conditions and procedures that I had not seen in London. It turns out there is Medicine outside of the M25!
As well as the surgeries, I experienced life in a sea-side town. Staying with a friend of the GP’s I enjoyed exploring the local area, walking to work and many meals of fish and chips! People were very welcoming and friendly, although this was a struggle to adapt to- I found myself vigorously guarding my pockets when a local struck up conversation in the queue for a coffee… turns out he didn’t want to mug me, but just have a chat whilst waiting for his drink…