It has been two weeks since I finished my first ever hospital placement or firms as we call them at Imperial. 2nd year has been going at full speed, so it was really nice to spend the last three weeks of term in hospitals seeing and talking to patients as opposed to lectures or tutorials.
I was based in the acute stroke unit in Charing Cross Hospital with three other students. Although, we had a general induction from Imperial the day before we started and a Charing-Cross-Hospital-specific induction on the first day of firms. It still felt daunting to go into the ward as we all felt that we didn’t belong there yet.
It really is that time of year again…the stress levels are rising and 5th year exams are approaching. We have about 6 weeks left until our first exam and although that sounds a while away still, there is a lot to cover. On top of this, we are still attending our hospital attachments daily.
I wanted to share with you a few resources that I am using to help me through this revision period this year, hopefully it can help anyone else revising for clinical exams and not sure where to start!
Brainscape: Imperial Medicine students past and present have made flashcards on this amazing app that is a great revision tool.
This week the biggest challenge was being a patient myself. Don’t worry readers (aka mum and dad) I was not injured, but found myself needing to visit the dentist for some work, and visiting occupational health for some blood tests and vaccinations for my elective.
It’s probably well agreed that the worst possible patient is one who thinks they know lots (courtesy of a search engine), but in fact don’t know much at all. Well, this was me. First, at the dentist I was looking at the x-rays and standing up whilst the dentist was talking, until I was sharply asked to sit down by the dental nurse!
So this week the biggest challenge was being confronted with death. Sounds strange, but I hadn’t expected it that morning, so I was hit hard.
Of course I’ve seen death before in medical school- the cadavers we use for dissection, old patients on the ward who pass away quietly in their sleep and death certification. This however was different as it was unexpected- someone younger who yesterday was walking around fine, then suddenly today they have gone. It wasn’t predicted or even suspected.
Other than the suddenness of it all, I was also struck by the sadness as the team slowly realised they had done all they possibly could but that it simply wasn’t enough.
Over the last year I have started to understand how non-medical students view medical students. This has been very interesting, enlightening and somewhat frustrating at times, in the form of debates over the dinner table to overhearing conversations about medical students in SAFB (I mean if you are going to voice your opinion you could pick a better building to sit in than the medics building!).
So as I prepare to spend some time with non-medics, I thought I would write a blog to dispel any myths about Imperial medical students.
“Medics never do any work”
This was the first opinion that I heard about medics and started a long dinner table discussion.
On Saturday The Class of 2016 ICSM came together for a grand night of cheer and nostalgia: the Shrove Tuesday Final Year Dinner (STFYD) 2016. Joined by many tutors, doctors, lecturers and hospital consultants, roughly 400 students started the celebrations with a sparkling welcoming reception, moving on to a delicious three-course meal with a variety of speeches and advice from guest speakers and students, the highlight of which was the launch of the STFYD video. The group were then joined by many from the year below for more fun as The Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidisms (the STFYD band) took to the stage for a time of dancing, photos and pick a mix!
This week I have been challenged by the dispute over junior doctor contracts.
This is a thorny issue, and I am not writing to argue my corner. However, I have been quite challenged by how some of the information has been presented in the press. I know that the newspaper headlines don’t represent the general public, but like many I have been saddened by the ongoing debate.
I was therefore massively encouraged to see members of the public handing out badges, flyers and information outside my placement hospital. They were not there to argue about the issue, but to provide information to fully inform the public of the facts and to show their doctors that they are valued.
This week the 3rd year medical students sit their first clinical year exam: Ethics and Law, and I was reminded of sitting the same exam a few years ago.
For many studying ethics and law seems a bit strange. The course involves studying ethical issues in medicine from a range of different viewpoints. This can be great at times, with lots of discussion and interaction, but can also be rather challenging as you begin to work through your own viewpoint and why you hold it. At the time I remember this seemed more challenging and exacerbating than anything else as I desperately tried to justify my viewpoint on a range of hot topics.
This week the biggest challenge was being confronted by an angry/upset patient.
I have been involved in difficult, emotional, challenging situations on placement before but this has always been as part of the medical team. This week I was confronted by an angry and upset patient on my own. The wait to see a doctor was long, so I was asked to work my way through the patients in advance, taking a brief history, blood tests and other simple investigations to speed up the results and the wait when the doctor managed to see them. For the most part it was no trouble, but one patient was particularly distressed by the wait and made their feelings known to me as well as asking many questions about my role and the department’s system.
“Hello, my name’s Lorna and I’m a final year medical student” I confidently announced to my husband Sam whilst checking for the hundredth time I had my stethoscope packed, searching for Sam’s smart work shoes and grabbing as many biros as I could before leaving. “Final year- I must remember that”. Off I went, striding hastily (yes, I was running later than expected) to catch the bus to my first day of my senior medical placement.
I imagine many of you may have had a slightly quieter, more relaxed start to term- perhaps more lie-ins, some sightseeing, making new friends, and all probably with less bodily fluids involved.