I am now officially a vampire. And by vampire, I mean that I can now take blood from patients, of course. Here’s proof:
(Don’t worry that’s a fake arm, so no patient confidentiality was broken for the purpose of the photo above 😉 ) I did get to take blood from four patients during my time in the Phlebotomy clinic though, and that was a lot of fun.
So yeah, haematology was great! MUCH better than dermatology in my opinion, and I was actually a bit sad to leave, because everything was very well organised. The teaching was excellent; after getting told off for not using enough medical terms when describing blood results (whoops), I now feel more confident with interpreting them. The registrar we had for the majority of our sessions grilled us so much! The session we had on blood films was one of the most challenging- nearly two hours of going through pictures, naming the cells and then coming up with a diagnosis. So. Many. Blood. Films.
He really was a great teacher though, and I feel that in the future, when I’m (by God’s grace!) a doctor, he will be one of the people that I will tell anecdotes about, when I’m reminiscing about my time in medical school. Like, “When I was in my second year ,there was this registrar…” Good times.
Another highlight of my time in haem was the ward rounds, where the junior doctors let us write in the patient notes with them dictating. I’ve always been quite critical of illegible handwriting when reading patient notes, but now that I’ve experienced how fast paced ward rounds are, I can understand how difficult it is to keep your handwriting neat.
In other news, splenomegaly. I felt big spleens and they were so weird! But weird in a, “Oh my gosh that’s cool” way. Venesections, which are pretty much a modern version of blood-letting, are pretty cool too. I also got to watch a bone marrow biopsy, which looked painful even with local anaesthesia, and the patient did so well! I could not have handled it like she did…
I’d go as far to say that haematology has been one of my favourite modules so far. Second only to orthopaedics, I reckon. The only thing putting me off it as a specialty is the fact that haematological malignancies are quite a huge part of it. The majority of secondary care is the management of blood cancers like the Leukaemias, as well as Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma subtypes, so that might be a lot of cancer to have to deal with.
It’s not all doom and gloom though- I got to see a patient get the all clear for Hodgkin’s after chemotherapy. The joy and relief from him made me realise that for moments like that, haematology is worth it.