A Day in a Psychiatric Ward

I am really bad at this blogging thing but I’m learning so please bear with me.

Anyway, yesterday was spent by yours truly shadowing Dr B in a hospital in London. Dr B is a medical director and has been a psychiatrist for over 20 years. He’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and really humble too, considering how much of a big deal he is! This was all made possible by my old Economics and favourite teacher, Mr B, who made it happen as Dr B is his dad. So cheers, sir!

I made it to the hospital just in time for the ward round, even though I’d overslept due to my numerous alarms not going off, grrrr. I was super duper proud of myself for planning my route on my own and getting there without getting lost. So to everyone who says I am incapable of being independent, HA.

The psychiatric ward was a whole new world compared to gastroenterology, where I had a placement in last year. First of all, there was way more security, i.e. coded doors and cameras, as patients have been known to “make a run for it” in the past. I was told not to go anywhere without a nurse or doctor, and I also had a nurse between me and the patients at all times. Intense stuff!

I met a lot of patients during ward round, but there were a few who stood out for me. One of them was a patient who I will refer to as A, who had paranoid schizophrenia. As a result of this, she did not take well to strangers and was very suspicious of me. In fact, she didn’t take her eyes off me when Dr B was questioning her, and refused to answer questions, demanded to be seen in private, then glared at me before storming out of the room. Scary times indeed. Dr B and the nurses assured me that she was like this with strangers all the time and it was definitely not me, but I was still a bit like WHOA. So that taught me that being a doctor will require patience, as shown by Dr B’s understanding nature with A.

Another patient who stood out for me was a man who I will call H. H was a 26 year old who was also schizophrenic. He lived with his parents, who were present while he was getting assessed by Dr B. H got admitted after he stopped taking his medication and attempted to take his own life by jumping off a building. H also believed his parents were conspiring against him and refused to acknowledge them. This made me very sad because I felt so sorry for both him and his poor parents. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though because H finally agreed to start taking his medication again and allowed his parents to escort him to his room.

The importance of communication was highlighted with another patient, who I will call M. M was Portuguese and his translator didn’t turn up in time for the ward round, so Dr B couldn’t talk to M to find out how he was feeling, and this was very frustrating for both of them as Dr B couldn’t do anything to help him. Very frustrating.

I learned that sometimes nothing further can be done to help a patient, as sometimes their problems stem from social rather than psychiatric factors. This was shown though T, another patient, who was getting discharged from the ward after attempting suicide, as he felt that was his only option after being disowned by his family in the Czech Republic because he had been in jail a couple of months ago.

So overall it was a great experience and I’m grateful to Dr B for the opportunity. Yesterday was my taster day and I have a week off from the placement because of the dragon show next week (yaaay). In two weeks, I get to shadow Dr B some more so I’m really looking forward to that.

I always thought paediatrics was the area of medicine I was most interested in, but now I think I’m beginning to consider child and adolescent psychiatry…

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