Module 1 Placement: Week One

First week of hospital placement has been pretty hectic! I’m back at the hospital I did a paediatric placement in earlier this year, so it was great to be back. My “base ward” is an Older People’s Medicine one, and I got to shadow some doctors, a.k.a. following them around like a lost puppy because you don’t really understand most of what is going on, fun times!

Here are some of the highlights of the week:

– Finally getting my SMART card, which gives me access to patient records, cooooooool.

– A nurse mistaking me for a 5th year medic and asking me to do a cannulation. I was like, “Errrr, I’m a first year…”

– Getting to talk to patients and practise my history taking skills. One of the patients I spoke to said I was the best and most thorough “doctor” she’d spoken to all day, which was really kind of her. I also got to help with feeding patients lunch on the ward, which was very fun.

– Got told off for having my phone out #standard

– Clinical skills! Practised urinalysis, handwashing, and gowning, scrubbing and gloving in preparation for our first OSCE* in January, eeeeep. Definitely don’t think surgery is for me; the mask made me feel claustrophobic, but apparently you get used to it, so maybe my opinion will change with time. We did look pretty cool all scrubbed up though:
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– Getting grilled by a technician when I was in the Cardiology Outpatient Clinic. The number of times I said “I don’t know” in response to a question he asked me was quite hilarious. Well I found it funny, but I don’t really think he did… I won’t feel bad though; we learn about the heart in more detail in year 2, so it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t answer questions, we haven’t done it yet! He did say that cardiology consultants can make you cry if they ask you questions and you don’t know the answer, so that’s something to keep in mind for next year… yikes.

– Finally, I experienced my first patient deaths. Over the week, not one, not two, but THREE patients died on my ward. I had to go witness a death verification with one of the junior doctors, and it was truly a surreal experience. The doctor commented afterwards that he was impressed that I didn’t faint, as most people tend to when they see a body for the first time. I guess dissecting has made me less freaked out by dead bodies, and you could say I’m more desensitized to them.
I always thought I would cry the first time a patient I came across died, so does not being emotional make me “cold”? I hope not. Maybe it was different because I didn’t really know them; they just happened to pass away while I was on the ward. They were all peaceful deaths, and their families had been notified that things weren’t looking too good, so they were able to say their goodbyes in time. Death is still this weird thing that I’m slowly getting my head around, but the last couple of months, as well as this week’s experiences have made me start getting better at figuring out how I feel about it all. And that is a positive thing I can take away from what has been happening.

One more week of placement and then HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.

*OSCE= Objective Structured Clinical Examination. It involves different stations that can last 5-10 minutes, and they test different skills like examinations, procedures, data interpretation, consultation skills etc.

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