I have to say that I was really, really nervous about completing a placement in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G). Being involved in the care of a soon-to-be mother and their precious unborn baby is a huge privilege and responsibility, and up until 5th year it is pretty easy to not have to have dealt with the complications of pregnancy in clinical practice. O&G was a whole new ball game for us medical students.
I was attached to the O&G team at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for 7 weeks. We began our attachment learning about the basics and what to do in emergency situations; completing simulations as well as learning from patient experiences. I then rotated around clinics, wards, surgery and of course…labour ward.
“Labour Week” is renowned at medical school for being one of the toughest weeks of your medical school journey. We had 6 days (including the weekend) to assist in as many births as possible. This meant 12 hour shifts, and I completed 3 night shifts too (8pm till 8am). What a fantastic experience though! The first time I saw a baby it was overwhelming. So incredible. I do not think I will ever forget the first birth I assisted in, you can see below the extreme happiness/tiredness (it was 6am).
O&G was a chance to get some real hands on experience: scrubbing into surgeries and assisting, taking histories from patients in my own clinic room and having a chance to witness the behind-the-scenes of fertility treatment. I even managed to see a patient in antenatal clinic, and two weeks later saw her be induced and deliver on labour ward!
Towards the end of the attachment, we were asked to present an ethical issue we had witnessed on our attachment. My tutorial group discussed the ethics behind medical students being involved in the healthcare of a woman who had experienced domestic abuse- an important topic as we are often asked to leave the room when the doctor chats to such patient. We presented our worries that we may see our first ever pregnant patient who has experienced domestic abuse as an F1, and so provided recommendations for how we could integrate teaching into the O&G 7 weeks to ensure this didn’t happen. We did not have the answers, as it really is a matter of debate as to where medical students fit into the team in such cases, but we did have a few ideas that we hope will help. Our presentation won the prize for the session, and we walked away with toblerones!
All in all a great 7 weeks and am so grateful for the opportunities Chelsea and Westminster provided. O&G may or may not be the speciality for me, but it was a really thought-provoking and hands on firm. Now onto dermatology…!!