This week my ‘Challenge of the Week’ is slightly more light-hearted than previous, but just as important: Fitness.
If you’ve ever seen Charing Cross Hospital you will know that it’s a very tall building- 15 floors to be precise. If you’ve ever visited you will also know that the lifts are quite slow and busy. A typical journey involves waiting for 5 minutes to get into a lift, squishing in with patients, healthcare workers and various pieces of equipment/prams/wheelchairs. Then you stop at every floor- not just for people to get out, but to wave to all those people stuck on other floors who are also waiting for the lift (and keep pressing the button…).
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 after just finishing a manic 3 week attachment at one of the busiest A&Es in London I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learnt.
1. Always look before crossing the road
After seeing a number of patients hit by cars/lorries/buses/bikes I have realised the damage they can do and just how common incidents are. Obviously not all of them were avoidable but taking the time to look properly before crossing the road could save you a lot of trouble. If you are from the rest of Europe remember to look the other way (we drive on the other side!)
I spent all three weeks being obsessively extra careful when crossing the road, knowing that my consultant would really not appreciate me being the trauma patient!
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.