Covid Chaos

I remember moaning at the end of CCE 1 that I needed a week off. I guess the universe listened and I ended up with 8 (as far). This weird world is different enough for anyone and for Medicine and indeed other healthcare courses, we have been particularly affected. You can’t study medicine, nursing, paramedic science or dentistry totally online.

This has mean’t that a lot of students, who are normally exhausted and working to complete maximum levels, are now left with little to do apart from coursework or self directed learning or if you are like me, catching up on Netflix too!!

However, it all hasn’t been chilling out and working at an easier pace. I live alone in a flat on campus. Campus is now deserted apart from students who can’t get home so it does feel like we are on a weird island in the sea of the UK. I have a couple of friends on campus but for the larger part of the day, I’m on my own. It has hit me hard as my mental health has had huge wobbles and since home isn’t exactly going to be any better, I am stuck here. My friends I do have here live in a different part of campus so I only get to see them if we are outside which is controlled by the weather. There is also no motivation to get out of bed in the morning so my brain decides that 12pm is a great time to wake up. So, I spend the day feeling guilty and constantly shocked by how late it is.

We have been given roles in our local trusts but these can be long shifts. 12 hours with 5 cannulas to do and a bit of cleaning drags. Especially, when they are night shifts and there isn’t really anywhere to work. I love the fact we are there, and I am incredibly grateful but I feel guilty for being paid to do nothing and it’s screwing up my schedule considering I am only on nights. It’s my own fault as I chose to have days off in between the nights but I am exhausted. However, I have been able to increase my clinical skills to the point where I am comfortable inserting cannulas now and just have to work on increasing the gage size I am being asked to insert. The staff are lovely too, I just don’t think we are needed most of the time, but the hospital will decide when we are not needed any more and I guess with the releasing of the public, we could see a rise in cases and a rise in A&E visits. (I should say I don’t want to see people ill before people accuse me!)

I see videos of my friends at home with family and pets and feel so jealous. I do have my incredible UCLan friends who have laughed and been sympathetic with me when I have had my meltdowns and they are basically the only reason I’ve got through the past 8 weeks. Running round my flat to find a toilet roll whilst’t my chest is on fire from the virus makes you forget everything going on surprisingly well ! Having a switch has been good because I’ve been able to play with my friends on Mario cart (who are annoyingly good at it) and waste hours on Animal Crossing. I have a good old science/ medicine room coming along !

My friend in NI decided to draw pictures of healthcare workers and transformed my picture into an incredible drawing !

I’ve had a lot of time to think about my future career and how I want to progress with it. I know I want to work abroad at some point and I found New Zealand are very accommodating for F3’s. I had originally planned Australia but they fit you in on a “needs basis” and I would love to spend my time in paediatrics over there. I have come to the realization that my career doesn’t have to be completed by the time I’m 40. I want to do everything. Work on cruise ships as a doctor, work abroad, go to the USA for a bit (purely to live in the bizarre culture they have out there), be a medical consultant on films and TV shows and hopefully achieve a goal I have had hidden away which is to work on the children’s programme Operation Ouch teaching medical concepts to the nations kids. I met the doctors last year and they said they are getting their first generation of medical students who wanted to become doctors thanks to their programme. I don’t think I would ever want to become a doctor like Dr Hilary… but something like Operation Ouch or Trust Me I am a Doctor would be just the cherry on top of the cake.

For now, I am keeping my ties with GOSH who have unfortunately cancelled their summer school this year due to Covid-19 but they have involved me in the planning for the summer school and I am forever grateful for the connections I have to GOSH. I want to do some of my elective period there in the intensive care wards or theatres or something completely different. I have no idea where my career is going to go, only that it is going to end up at GOSH one day.

I am also trying to make sure I do something productive and something good for me each day. This something good is normally going to feed the geese down at the lake who’s babies have emerged and they are just little balls of fluff !

Something productive is normally taking the bins out, tidying up or trying to fix Endnote (which my magical departmental librarian did today!). I have also spent a lot of time thinking about my old degree. I miss Neuroscience a lot. I miss learning about the intricate details of the mechanism of neurons, I even miss my lab work….somewhat. I knew I wouldn’t ever get on in the field of research. I am in no way intelligent enough for research and I don’t like some culture of research stealing or being limited by the status of your institution. I had a lecturer who I believe was bitter about working where they worked. Indeed they cornered me in a corridor and told me none of their students have ever made it to a medical degree straight out of undergraduate. Guess, who was wrong! I actually have a small motivational card on my window which reads:

If you can get through Dr XX Neurobiology Module, you can get through this!

Apparently, they did actually like me but the greatest satisfaction to me came when they made a sarcastic comment about me not showing up to their lecture because ” some of us have got onto a Medical Degree so don’t feel the need to show up”. My best friend told me of this and I got to write the greatest email saying:

I am sorry I was not present at your lecture the other day. I was at an interview at Kings College London for their Graduate Entry Programme which I have subsequentially been given an offer for

Don’t Bitch About Your Students šŸ˜‰

Anyway, off the point. It is a really weird time, I’m struggling to get work done but we’ve now been given a re-start date so there is now some deadline to work to so I am getting a bit more done. I have decided to head home for a bit in July before coming back for a re-start.

We had a whole course meeting yesterday where some uncomfortable truths hit home. If we end up in lockdown longer than anticipated or the second wave sends us back into a nationwide lockdown with healthcare students removed from placements. There is going to have to be a national discussion about how to train our doctors. Being on a graduate entry course is crammed as it is and even missing a week can put you seriously behind so, missing over 5 months of placement will mean training of doctors will have to change as we can’t have a year with no new junior doctors (F1’s) entering the system. This is terrifying as we could be put out with fewer hours of training than our counterparts, and later on in the system. We will be compared for job placements against our fellow peers who have maybe had exams modified to be suited to the different teaching that we have had and adapted to the circumstances meaning elements of exams change. (*cough* warwick first years who no longer have to pass or do OSCE’s to get to first year *cough* – it’s hard not to be bitter about that šŸ˜€ ) and have had the hours to train. It impacts on the future cohorts as our first years will possibly also have their third year placements shortened like we are having to do (5 down from 6 weeks).

Someone also mentioned about still having our SJT next year. It had never occurred to me that the exam that is 50% of my final mark is next year. Cheers for that guys.

So Covid looks as if it’s to stay around. I won’t go off on a rant about the government as I don’t want to become political but it’s worrying to see the PM avoiding questions and contradicting statements h said only a few weeks ago. Screw ups like importing gowns for PPE before checking they can be used, hiding the fact we currently have the second worst death toll behind America (whose president stormed off a press conference the other day and who’s citizens cut open facemasks so they can “breathe easier”. I don’t know what will happen, but for now, it’s just a case of staying inside and taking care of ourselves…… and being alert 24/7 just in case the virus sneaks up on us in our sleep, or catch us from behind the bog rolls at Tesco. *eye roll*

Campus does have beautiful sunsets though….

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