I know I skipped Monday- Wednesday but unless you want me talking about my drive to Coventry let me skip it!
This week we were allowed back into the MTC to study, something which I was overly happy about as I could now go back to my second home:
On Thursday I had a bit of a day off studying inter-dispersed with an open day! Well, a closed day. We couldn’t have students in the building (which was sad as the WMS open day cakes are the best things in the world) but we still had a good Q&A session. I got to help with the curriculum session and the student session. Some good questions came through but we were restricted with what we could answer as we all sign disclosure forms when we do our interviews so we can’t talk much about them. Felt nice to be doing something good in the corridor where I normally go and have a good cry!
Off today as we were scheduled. Still was a nervous wait as I was still waiting for my results. I was hoping they would arrive during the day as I had injections the next day which was one of our final TDOC’s. Scary- second year finally coming to an end.
The text of freedom came at 01:30am. Whoop officially free of Covid! I rang the office up that morning to ask if it was ok to come in. 10 minutes of umming and being transferred to different people later and I was given an ….. okish.
I ran to the car (it was now 9:45) and headed over to the hospital. I was panicking as I ended up with nowhere to park as was to be expected. Thankfully they managed to find a spot and I ran in to do my TDOC.
The nurse in there was an ITU nurse so she was ok with me being there as I was negative and she had COVID-19 back in March. I did all injections in one fell swoop which felt good. In a weird way I can’t wait till I get to do these on an actual patient so I know what it is like. Plastic arms often don’t cut it.
I was due to be in a teaching lecture in the afternoon but I still wasn’t feeling right so I went home and studied wrapped in a blanket instead. I made the correct choice.
That evening however, I had to get changed and look somewhat presentable as I got to be a panellist on ASME Bitesize and talk about MedEd for an hour and how to get into it at a young student level. It was great and I really enjoyed pretending to know what I was talking about for an hour 😀
Thankfully after that I managed to curl up in bed and sleep off whatever was doing my immune system in.
Normal GP day -nothing exciting – let’s skip this!
Went back home for my MOT. It seems weird driving 150 miles for an MOT but it meant I could be at home for my first one and then I could be with someone who has actually been through the MOT before. It was also a chance to get out Coventry and see my family and be at home for a couple of days. Pets are the best life savers ever.
Nothing really happened on Monday and Tuesday as I had two days off placement so let’s begin with Wednesday. We had our first GP day and we had a brand new surgery to WMS as a couple of surgeries didn’t want students in so we went to a surgery that we had coincidently, been to already. We had been to the surgery in our Specialities week for a baby clinic so actually, it was a nice surprise to find out it was somewhere familiar.
As nice as the staff are though and as welcoming as they are, GP is just not the same without patients. Phone lines are dodgy meaning you can’t always hear the patient clearly, and let’s face it. Listening to a phone call is nowhere near as good as meeting patients in real life.
We left for lunch feeling a bit downcast. Our expectations were already high due to a brilliant GP surgery last year but with no patients, we were both a bit underwhelmed. We went to a local “restaurant” to take advantage of the Eat out to Help out scheme and popped into Lidl to stock up on their pizzas….. Lidl bakery pizzas are the best thing ever.
We went back for the afternoon to wait for our one patient of the day to come in. We spent two and a half hours working on our audits and I had a call from an ENT consultant about my infections. Literally, the first words out of their mouth were ” I can see you are a Medical Student but to me, you are a patient so talk to me as a patient”. I have never loved a voice on the end of a phone that much.
We eventually got to see our patient and then trundled off at 5:30pm.
I still felt really down about GP yesterday so I was hoping the wards would be a bit better and cheer me up. I forgot they had scheduled the F1 and CT1 for nights and our PA had just moved wards. We were just left with the reg as the doctor on the wards who suggested we do the bloods. Pathology turned up a tad later and were happy that we were getting on with the bloods.
Of course, Sods law meant we could only do 2 out of the seven. We asked the reg what to do and we had to trundle to the pathology department with our tails between our legs. I already wasn’t feeling great with heavy limbs and we got told off because we had “accepted” the bloods and should have done them ourselves.
I pretty much wanted to go home after that. I spent the rest of Thursday huddled up on my sofa drifting in and out of sleep. Friday wasn’t much better either and I ended up just drifting round the flat. I was desperate to go swimming so I thought I would book and go on the Saturday. Maybe that is what I needed, a good swim session to blow off steam.
I got up ready to go. Put my swimming costume on and a pair of jeans as its easier just to sit around in it all day and motivates me to go. I ate some breakfast and BAM. Knocked down. I had a hot water bottle, a blanket, thick socks, a hoodie and a duvet on top of me and I still wasn’t warm.
I was aching in every joint and it was the sickest I had been in a while. It took me two hours to drag myself to take a cold and flu drink praying the paracetamol would help. I spent the day drifting in and out of sleep with my joints aching and breathless due to my chest. With the amount of breaths I was taking, I thought I was going to land up in hospital at some point. I also had to have my curtains shut as any bright light was just ridiculously painful. I took my temperature in the evening as this didn’t occur to me till about 5pm :
Safe to say, I was scared by this point. I booked a COVID-19 swab for the next day and tried to get some sleep. It was a restless night and I woke up drenched at one point and every adjusting of position brought on a new wave of nausea and joint paint. On top of all this my hip decided it wanted to join in so was killing me for half the night. However, huzza, we had broken the fever:
I felt so much better but due to how sick I was the day before. I had forgotten to take my anti-depressants so I was awkwardly stumbling around the flat waiting for the chemicals to kick in. I also had forgotten to charge my phone so here I was hoping that everything would sort itself out for the drive over to Richo where the swabbing site was.
Thankfully, I regained my land legs and my battery was enough to get me there and back. The site was very efficient and no less than 10 minutes after I arrived, I was having a plastic stick shoved up my nose and sent on my merry way. I had forgotten how much it hurt from last time and was sneezing/eye watering my way out of the site. It’s hard not to gag when you are already feeling sick and someone is triggering your gag reflex. It was nice though as I had my friend in Cardiff to take the mic out of me/ support me from all the way in Wales 😀
It’s Monday now and I am feeling fine! My chest is still a little rusty and I’m feeling a tad dizzy but otherwise I am fine. I’m just waiting for a Boris text to tell me I am FREEEEE.
So, you know I said last block I would have a shorter blog? Well, the timing of that sentence wasn’t quite right. This week was the week when I returned to being an actual full time medical student.
Thankfully just some tutorials today that started at 10am, BLISS! These tutorials are meant to help us pitch our own work right and if you are lucky, complete the work for you. We had a full day of workshops so it was just sat in a virtually empty lecture theatre all day.
There’s not really much to write about apart from the fact it was BOILING outside, this was of course, the week of the heatwave. However, to end the day off in the right direction, Kaludio and I took a trip to the infamous Gelliot Ice cream bar. Yes, it is amazing as it sounds:
Tuesday brought a bit of a weird half day and a first for us. When learning clinical skills in the last block we had an afternoon of teaching and then a couple of weeks later (when you have normally forgotten everything), you are assessed. This time round it worked a bit differently. We were sent online learning modules and I self-taught myself ECG’s (OK, I basically knew that already) but NG tubes were something I really was not expecting to learn on my own and go and be assessed on the next day. (NG Tubes are feeding tubes passed through the nose, down the back of the throat and into the stomach. They are not pleasant to have inserted but can be the difference between life and death in serious cases).
Thankfully the nurses running the TDOCS were lovely and supported us through each one so it was the highest mar I have ever received for a TDOC (lets ignore the fact everyone got a perfect score).
We had nothing for the rest of the day so I decided to get some tests done of my own. I had been “prescribed” and X-ray before lockdown for my hip and it was starting to hurt again so I took myself down to get it done. It was weird sitting there as a patient in the surgical gowns, especially when you are trying to get something to stay shut at the back which isn’t designed to stay shut at the back.
After I thought I had my outpatients appointment for my ears but after an hour of sitting in the sun I suddenly realised I had not only got the wrong day, but the wrong week. Nice one Abbie.
Nice normal day back on the ward today. Well, I say normal but this was a heatwave and our scrubs really do not allow the body to breath so within 5 minutes of getting onto the ward I felt soaked through. The ward temperature was nearly 30 degrees Celsius and we were just melting on the ward round.
Kaludio and myself managed to duck into the air-conditioned equipment room to gain some body regulation at one point and walking out of there to the ward felt like we were getting off the plane in Spain. I couldn’t understand how patients were sat there with blankets on. We also had the nicest consultant that day, they were teaching us around the ward round and at the end offered to do our sign off’s for the block. RESULT. He also insisted that we should not be in the wards but outside enjoying the sun, something which our F1 agreed on.
We stayed to put some cannulas in the patients that morning as most were going to need IV fluids to prevent Acute Kidney Injuries developing in the next couple of days. I had a patient who’s veins were just beautiful so my job was easy. The ward was also treated to ice-poles which was just the best thing to ever happen:
We finished our jobs at 12pm so we decided that Ice Cream was also needed – cue Ice Cream trip #2 of the week:
So very close to the end of the week. I am so tired, I don’t get how I was pulling the ridiculous hours I was during Speciality block AND keeping up with three presentations a week off the list.
However, today was significantly cooler as we had an incredible thunderstorm the night before which just lit up the entire nights sky. We had the ALERT course we were originally meant to do back in March. It was good as it made you aware of why we do the A-E assessment but it wasn’t until the afternoon that I realized just how far I had come along. We got free food and drink throughout the day (que me panicking as I watched my calorie budget drop due to the sandwich I ate which was nearly 1/3 of my daily count).
In the afternoon we were ran simulations of a deteriorating patient where we had to conduct an A-E assessment. My first one was a bit shaky but my second one I just got praise and advised to be a bit more flexible with my diagnosis as I can be a bit narrow sighted.
I felt like I could have been an F1 in A&E and that evening I went home with the biggest confidence boost I have ever had. I was finally beginning to feel like this was going to happen, I was going to be a half competent doctor one day.
Thursday was also the day the whole A level thing kicked off but I will dedicate another post to that as it deserves more than a paragraph.
END OF THE WEEK
I made an agreement with the rest of my car share to have a half day as we were pretty tired. Oh what dreams we make.
You quickly find out that when you plan to have a half day, you end up having the longest days ever on placement.
We rocked up to the ward round and were asked to prep the notes for the two newcomers. I toddled off and wrote up basic history and recent investigation tests and once I was finished I toddled back to the nurses station. Whilst I was gone the F1, CT1 and PA had all arrived and asked me to present the case back to them.
The consultant turned up and God did my anxiety rocket. I had to re-present the patient back to her and discuss some points (tip for future Abbie – trends are as important as numbers) for treatment. The consultant then went, go and sort her out then. I stood there. What do you mean?
Well, go and have a chat – take some bloods so we can check how she is doing, document it and I’ll catch up with you in a bit. I stood there flummoxed but equally excited. I got to play F1 for an hour.
I know I have a problem with my anxiety levels but boy I did not realise the extent of them until this time.
I interviewed the patient, did their bloods, got everything ready for sign off (turns out I could put my own signature on them as they “never check the signatures”) and presented back in time for the regular ward round. It was a straight forward case but god was it a rush. I felt like a capable human for once in my life.
We stayed and did some more cannulas and bloods before lunch (one of which we had to get the reg to do as it was so difficult) but we were hinted at the possibilty of NG tubes after lunch.
Coming back we had two patients who needed NG tube insertion. Klaudio did the first who had lost capacity so was difficult, but we later found out he had managed to nail his first NG tube!
Mine, well mine was slightly more difficult. The patient had mobility issues and some movement issues, so it was more difficult to place the tube. They also kept giving and removing consent and there was a big decision to make if they had capacity or not. We tried to find this out but it was proving very difficult.
After two attempts (both consented for by the patient) we gave up as it was not sitting properly and I didn’t want to cause any more distress. IT was left as a weekend job as it was not getting done on the Friday. We ended up playing a weird medication quiz as our F1 wrote up the drug chart for another patient with our ward pharmacist adding the sound effects and it was just an hilarious way to end off the week.
It hit half five however, and my hip began to signal it was time to go home. I got back at 6:15pm and was exhausted. I’ve been suffering with hip pain for a while but hopefully that X-ray will show something that I can fix !
It’s weeks like these you have to hold on to as you will end up with weeks when everything just goes to pot and you give up. I really did feel like I was going to be a doctor after the end of this week. Let’s hope Covid doesn’t screw up more than it has done already.
I never thought this day would come. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy with work and working out but I was desperate for Wednesday to roll around. We headed up to the ward and were joined by two new fourth years (even though I keep calling them third years because they are the year above but we are still second years). It was nice to meet people I haven’t actually seen in second year yet and we were all strictly told to prepare the notes. Cue the next four hours of panic trying to make sure the notes were prepped ready for the next patient whilst simultaneously trying to figure out how to write in these notes.
It was tough but I really enjoyed it, I felt a solid part of the team and I know this is what we will be doing as final years and F1’s. It was also good to get to know the layout of patient notes and the clinical system which I prefer a mile over the system over in UHCW. I also was having frantic calls to IT as my login still hadn’t been approved.
It was also good as we were seeing the patients we had written the notes up for ourselves so we could follow the plan through and it also lead to us being able to grab jobs as they came. I ended up getting two bloods done and one other attempt but they were really hard to bleed and were not very well so we decided to leave it because we didn’t want to cause them any more distress. I’ve sent this ticket off to be signed off as a Mini-Cex ( I want to get my sign off’s done ASAP) so I am hoping the reg will be nice. I am stressing a bit in this area as we don’t have anyone on our ward who is ST3+ which are required for our sign off’s so I am hoping that by grabbing any opportunity we can, our tickets will be completed.
In the afternoon we were booked into our lecturers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome clinic. It was a syndrome I was interested in as I had completed that part of the presentation list the evening before. We had also heard our lecturers clinics were good for learning and getting our skills scrutinised so we signed up and were not disappointed. We were given coffee (bonus) and had to ask two questions with every patient and tell our lecturer a fact from this textbook after every patient. The more I learnt about CFS the more intrigued I became. There’s no direct link, no direct cause and no population is specifically presents in apart from it is generally after a viral infection.
One thing I am eager to find out is how Covid-19 will affect the refferals to these clinics as many survivors of Covid-19 have reported unusual tiredness months after the initial infection.
It was a good afternoon and we left clinic debating about this syndrome.
Im going to admit it now, this was a slow and quiet day. The consultant only appeared for the board round so the team were having to do the ward round themselves. We found it harder to know what to do and so took ourselves off for our own studies. I took a history (as the last history I took was in March) and we both had a go at listening for tricuspid regurgitation on a lovely patient but I could not hear anything. Looks like I am going to have to go over cardiac examination again.
We also attempted a blood but this again, didn’t go so well. We knew the MDT meeting was coming up so we took ourselves away as we didn’t want to get in the way of an already stressed team. The MDT was good again and I noticed a slight improvement in my scan reading skills to the last week. However, we didn’t manage to get into any clinics so we managed to go and see a dexta scan. This is an x-ray to test for osteoporosis but after the first one, you’ve seen them all.
We ended finishing up early at 3pm. You have good days and quiet days here, I like that though. I got a history done and that’s more than I could do in a week on speciality block.
These blog will be different to what I was doing before, but that’s because our degree is different to what it was before. We will probably be different to the cohorts that have come before us and these Covid-19 changes will follow us throughout our careers. It’s OK though, it’s about learning to see the benefits of these changes and tackling the challenges head on. So, I don’t know what will happen in the future of this blog, but luckily for you guys it will be shorter posts and less moaning of how tired I am !
Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it. I’m not sure how this blog is going to work from now on forward because the medical degree I was once on, has changed dramatically.
I am now only in placement for two days a week. Later on this month I will also be starting GP so that adds an extra day but there isn’t going to be a lot to type about.
Lockdown has been hard and there has been times when I never thought we would never get back into placement. However, Warwick has been great at, keeping us busy and we have been completing our third your research project in replacement of our placement blocks. They have also been brilliant with communication and keeping us updated with what is going on but doing that project was a nightmare.
I appreciate a research project is nothing compared to some med schools which have piled on the work for their students but I was so glad to click submit.
We all had to do systematic reviews which I desperately did not want to do. I had my project planned out and I was really excited about it. I also had an incredible supervisor, so when I got that email I was devastated. There were worse things going on in the world then though.
Anyway, long story short my third year project is complete and I am hugely thankful it is over. I’ll write another post about it soon but for now, let’s just stick with the medicine.
Day one of two
That was such a depressing title to write. That is how it is going to be though. We arrived Wednesday morning, donned the classic blue mask on entrance and signed in. We were only 20 minutes into the day and the mask was beginning to annoy me, guess I am going to have to get used to it again.
We also ended trekking back and forth over the whole hospital to pick up our scrubs. Warwick had said scrubs would be provided as we have to wash all clothes at 60 degrees and the fact is, my primark clothes just are not going to cut it. We received three pairs of some dark blue scrubs which are actually really nice! Problem is for me is that I am a tad too big for the medium top ( I like slightly baggy clothes) and the large is too big. End of the tale is that I am now attending placement in a tent.
We headed up to our assigned ward and introduced ourselves. It’s a world away from UH where I once was. We were put to work straight away writing in the notes, preparing for the ward round whilst waiting for the consultant to turn up for the ward round. Due to the type of block we were in, I’ve never actually been on a ward round before so this was a first.
They are kind of useful, I like seeing how the team functions and how the consultant develops treatment plans but there isn’t a huge amount of learning. Especially when the consultant is in pain or in a rush so they don’t get time to explain things. I only point this out because I wasn’t expecting to have teaching, but when we finished the consultant apologized to us for not teaching and explaining things. I nearly fell over, this is normal?
We then helped the docs on the ward with their duties. Halfway through a new doctor joined us, and I am talking new. Finally, we had someone else that was just as lost as we were! He was lovely and spent the majority of the morning trying to get IT to work – classic NHS.
We got split up between the two docs and the PA (Physicians Associate) on the ward. This is probably going to sound bad but , I didn’t realize just how advanced PA’s are and what they can do. Our PA was practically running the ward and I am looking forward to having more interaction with PA’s. I got to spend the morning helping make radiography requests before running off to lunch.
In the afternoon I got to attempt my very first ABG. I missed the artery and normally you “rummage” around slightly to get the vessel but with it being an ABG and not a venous blood sample, I was nervous as I knew the structures running around that area so the SHO ended up taking over. I still felt some source of accomplishment though!
Kaludio and I also got to try and take some blood off one of our patients. They were an ex-midwife so we were happily chatting away to them whilst we were trying to get some samples finding out abut their time in the NHS. Unfortunately, three med student attempts and two PA attempts later and none of us were able to obtain a sample, so we ended up leaving it there.
Overall, it was a pretty good day. I felt like I had accomplished something and I was excited to get back in on the Thursday, albeit at the slightly later time of 8:30am.
We trudge in for a slightly later start but surprisingly, a “harder to get out of bed” start. I practically dragged myself to get ready, thankfully due to the scrubs, very little effort needs to be used when getting ready in the morning.
We headed back to the ward and ended up awkwardly killing time waiting for the ward round to start. We had a different consultant today and actually it’s interesting to see the differences in everyone’s medical practise and how they run ward rounds.
It was slightly long as we had seen all the patients the day before but it meant we could listen on more closely for management plans and how they differed day to day especially when it related to scans we had requested the day before.
That day we had a particularly hard hitting patient to see and although I can’t say much else, it was a first for me and I ended up just staying with the patient whilst the ward round moved on. We sat and had a chat which I hoped helped them for as long as I could get away with not following the ward round.
We heard of an MDT meeting that afternoon so we stayed on the ward to help out with any bloods we could do and then ran off for lunch. We got to the MDT meeting and got to listen in to discussions about GI cancer which included a couple of patients we were familiar with. It was good to sit there as although most of the discussions were over our head, we got to examine scans which was helpful as I need to get it out of my head that you look at CT/MRI from the head down. It’s actually a bad thing I have got this in my head as all the organs are in the wrong places in my head and it takes me twice as long to interpret a scan as anyone else.
At the end we managed to catch a consultant and headed to their clinic. These are very different to pre-Covid-19 as there are now no patients physically in the room. We sit and listen on a phone to discussions which still is helpful, but I am worried about how the lack of opportunity to do patient examinations how impact our progression as doctors. We still have our normal OSCE’s come January and with significantly less patient contact both on the wards and through consultant/ GP clinics, I can’t see how we will be expected to be as prepared as previous years,
Anyway, we learnt some lab examinations needed to make diagnosis of IBD and treatment options for those struggling. It’s a common presentation and a lot of the time, people are having to have cameras put into their GI tracts to find out what the problem is.
It was a useful clinic and we finished at a nice round 5pm and headed home.
This is the only entry for the remainder of year 2 about academic days. We only had our CBL today which should have marked the end of our teaching for second year. Normally, I would be stressed up to my eyeballs with exam revision ready for September so, it felt strange to hit this milestone so early.
We also had a discussion about getting back in the med school after the case concluded. I personally can’t wait as I knew I had 5 days of no face to face contact ahead of me. I understand why some of my course mates don’t want to come in due to fears over mixing the virus but when we are in a clinical environment for learning, I struggle to see how sitting in a classroom would make any difference. That’s probably just me though. There was also a comment about travel efficiency which ok, yes it does seem overkill to get us to come in for something that can be done online but it’s the human interaction that you then loose.
Academic days aren’t just for lectures and CBL but for some of us it’s the only time we get to see others who are in different rotations or are at different trusts, and it’s that I really miss about not having a physical learning environment. I got a little miffed about this comment as it’s a 10 minute drive to the MTC for most people and compared to the utter solitude and lack of seeing people you want to see outside a clinical environment (without risking mixing in pubs or restaurants), I think a 10 minute drive is a small thing.
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 😉
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 😀 ) 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*
I did it ! I reached the end of the first block of teaching. We were due to have another week of peri-op but we decided that we had got as much out of it as we were going to get so decided to use it as an academic week. This meant I had time to catch up on my missed paediatric week from the great ear infection of 2020.
I turned up to paeds at 9:00am to watch handover and then I was assigned to a ward in the department. I got to see two paeds patients before going off to my ABG T-DOC. This is essentially where you take blood from the artery instead of the vein like most normal blood tests. I did that test (and passed whoop) and headed back after lunch to see if there was anything else to do. I got to chat to a few parents about their childs health and I got to learn about a whole new condition whilst there. I have to be careful with what I am writing again because of confidentially.
I finished relatively early that day as they were pretty busy so there wasn’t much I could do.
Went in for 9am again as we were due to be in neonatal intensive care. We waited 40 minutes for the doctor to not show up and ended up just tagging along with the ward round. It was such an honour to be with the tiny humans. I got to hold their hands and when their entire hand only wraps around half of your pinkie, you suddenly realize just how small and vulnerable these humans are. I got to listen to a couple of the babies chests and feel the fontanelles of their tiny heads.
I loved being there. It got quiet after that but I just sat with one of the babies holding their hand and stroking their tiny head. I began to feel like this is where I was meant to be. I just kept staring at this babies hand wrapped around mine. Happy I could offer some comfort, in their tiny plastic box world.
At 11am I had to pull myself away from ICU and go to get my block signed off. We have to get signed off after every 10 weeks to make sure we have hit our targets. I ended up not getting mine (OSCE’s are hard to get done on speciality block) and my in-hopsital mini-cex hadn’t gone through so I ended up having to do a quick history on a pre-surgical patient to pass the block.
Then I was freeeeeeee. Well, I had to quickly do the formative which helpfully was on all the things I hadn’t covered yet so I didn’t do enormously well but I really don’t mind. I emptied out my locker, and headed home. I had finished specialties!
On Wednesday we had our final GP session which ended up to be a bit of a anti-climax. I stopped by Tesco to pick up a couple of presents for our GP as she had been so lovely to us. I ended up wandering around the store to see the empty shelves for myself. This was at the beginning of the panic buying phase so I was stood giggling at the shelves at the madness of this all. Little did I know this was the beginning of a long time of unsual living for the UK.
I arrived at the surgery and did our clinics. We had half of our patients cancel on us which was disappointing so we only saw 2 each, and then that was it. We walked out slightly confused. I thought it was going to be a bit more of an exciting ending. I did have a lovely patient though who I ended up having a good old chat with whilst my GP and clinical partner were giggling next door. Apparently, it was hilarious because it sounded like we had known each other forever. I told her how much that meant to me because being on the spectrum, I always worry about how I’m coming across to patients. My GP ended up having a semi-argument with me saying I wasn’t on the spectrum which just ended in a fit of giggles. At least something positive would come out that week.
That evening, I found out that I was seen as annoying by the rest of my year group. I almost sat an cried. I had found out it was because I was keen and over enthusiastic. I kinda stopped just there. If I was annoying for being enthusiastic about a degree I’ve wanted to get onto my whole life …. then so be it 🙂
Spent the whole day working in the MTC as I wanted to get some work done. I got zero work done :’D. In the evening I filmed a video with Dr Gill, one of our lecturers here at uni. He does the clinical skills videos for Warwick which are known less for the videos and more for the comments underneath. Turns out the ASMR community love the videos and watch them more than us med students too XD.
On the Friday we had an academic day. I didn’t really want to go in knowing that the entire year found me annoying. I couldn’t trust anyone so I just decided to go and do what I needed to do and then go home. In the afternoon, we had a talk from Colin (head of MBChB programme) about the corona virus and how placements were carrying on as normal for the time being. I was slightly worried, 200 of us would be switching hospitals, wandering around wards. But Med School knows best……… little did they know Monday would bring about a turning of the tides……….
I decided to stick this here because theres only 4 hours of learning to write about.
We turned up to George Elliott (I will eventually learn how to spell this) for the start of our new block. We received our new passes ( I don’t look jaundice anymore!) and basically set out to explore our new environment. I felt like Bilbo in The Hobbit :
We went to buy parking permits but in the shack we were all talking about other nearby Medical schools who had closed and how the disease was progressing. I looked at my bank balance and decided to wait until the end of the day to buy my pass, I had a feeling something would arise.
Klaudio and I decided to try and figure out the hospital looking lost for most of the time before eventually finding my ward. We waited around for our consultant whilst nervously watching people coming in and out of rooms with full PPE. I’t didn’t help that we were on the respiratory ward. Our doctor eventually turned up and she was lovely but told us to go off the ward as it was getting busy and they just didn’t have the capacity to have us there. Fair enough!
We came out and just wandered around at a bit of a loss what to do. The F1 on the ward bumped into us and asked if we wanted to go to the mourge with her. We said yes but I was a bit nervous about what I was going to see. I’ve never seen a deceased person before, and that was about to change. We stood in the room watching her and the mourge worker check for pacemakers. Apparently, my face was telling everyone different things as to what I was feeling because she kept asking if I was OK. I was fine with everything, but I am glad we had time out to mull it over and think about it all. It was something hard to process.
We then reconvened in the hospital canteen where others who have been removed from wards had gone. We had to wait around for a meeting with Dr Nair who was kinda the lead at Gelliot so we had to wait until 12:30pm for this. This meant we got to try more of gelliot’s well renound Ice cream bar which lived up to expectations.
At about 11:30am we heard from the first years that all their teaching had been cancelled at that point, we knew what was coming for us. Sure enough, we received an email saying we would all be pulled out of placement for at least two weeks. There was a mixed sense of happiness as we were all tired from the last 10 weeks, but also sadness. We would be theory for at least the next two weeks which was awful as we loved meeting patients and we were becoming used to learning in this new way.
We had a hello and goodbye meeting from Dr Nair and were set on our way. It felt weird. The email said two weeks but none of us believed that. We would not be back in two weeks and two weeks later we were put into lockdown in the UK.
It still feels weird. I’m going to lose out on half a year of my degree theoretically. Warwick I must say have been brilliant about keeping us informed but sacrifices and changes have had to be made. I’ve had to change my SSC2 which I was overly excited about and am now stuck doing a systematic review which I was adamant that I didn’t want to do. I can’t think of anything more boring than staring at pages and pages of text summarizing it. That’s not the research I wanted to do. Obviously, it’s very minor on the small scale of things but I was devastated.
Warwick have arranged for us to work in the trusts. Something not many medical schools have offered so, they have been brilliant. We are going in as HCA type roles but allowed to practise up to our clinical competencies which is brilliant. I’ve just found out that I will be working at George Elliot so I am going back to Nuneaton !
Covid-19 has taken away so much from everyone. Patients dying on their own, the NHS stretched, new hospitals built. It all feels like a weird dream. However, if we keep up moral, stay in doors, maybe we will all get through this. The UK will be different after this, but for now, it’s time to load up Netflix and enjoy some time off from early starts.
Second to last week of the block ! And a bit of a mix to kick the day off. We have community week this week, so instead of dragging myself to UHCW, I dragged myself to a GP nearby. It was also an odd morning as it was the first time driving to placement. It was slightly terrifying but I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt. I arrived at 9:15am (aaah lie in!) and we got briefed about what was going to happen. In second year our community week looks at palliative care patients and how end of life care is delivered.
We played a quick game of school nurses, practise nurse, district nurse or health visitor and our team came second missing out on a bag of haribos. We went to a hospice in the afternoon. I already knew what to expect with my nan having passed away in a lovely hospice where I live but I was intrigued about if it was the same everywhere. It was weird walking in. It felt the same but part of me twinged a bit. I don’t think I’ve got over my nan going. I was in the middle of dissertation hand in, finals revision and it all happened quickly. I had a call on the Friday asking if I wanted to come home because it was soon. I remember being stood in the middle of the street feeling like I’d ran into a brick wall. My nan was a second mum to me. I decided to stay at uni. We wasn’t sure when she was going to go, and with everything going on. We agreed it was better for me to stay at uni.
After her funeral I had to head back to Preston to do my viva for my dissertation, work for the summer and then move out. Almost the week after, I started a summer job where I was working 8-6pm some days for the entire of August and half of July and then before I knew it, I was starting Med School. It’s weird, I can’t explain it.
Anyway, back to the actual point. We were given a tour of the hospice by one of the most energetic doctors I have ever seen but it was nice to sit down and learn about palliative care and how there is no curing in hospices. Only pain management, and keeping the patients comfortable.
We then had to go and interview a patient, which I was slightly dreading. I was scared that I was going to say something stupid or put my foot in it. However, the family were lovely and I was so grateful for them taking the time to chat to us and tell us about their hospice experience. We came out feeling humbled and amazed that places like this can exist. However, most of them rely on charitable donations to run, so it’s possible that these places could one day go leaving thousands to die in depersonalized hospital beds.
Tuesday morning was a bit of an admin morning which I nearly didn’t get to see. I arrived and asked security to let me through but I was grilled about why I was there, who I was to see and who I was (despite the orange cone lanyard hanging down off of me). Thankfully, the receptionist came in and saved the day.
We presented our mini health needs assessment finally getting that box ticked off for this year and then discussed the patients we saw yesterday. After lunch, we went to a baby clinic seeing the opposite end of life to what we had already seen. It was completely different to what I was expecting but we got to see baby checks and at the end I was happy as I got to play with a small toddler for 10 minutes. I swear to god I am a child.
We drove home and to my horror ended up on the infamous Coventry ring road. I don’t know who designed it but an exit and joining slip road as one?!? I was screaming inside but somehow made it back to campus alive.
Wednesday is normally GP day but our GP was on annual leave so we had it as a day off. Day off was in commas as I had a tonne of admin to do including getting my black box fitted, booking rooms in the med school for the JASME conference in November, picking up prescriptions and having to sort out my home comforts scheme including washing up after people who’ve used mugs and sorting out the blankets chucked everywhere. I could go off on a rant but I wont.
I also managed to get a gold dust GP appointment. My hip has been painful these past months and now it’s affecting me during the day so I need it check out. We think it’s just tendonopathy but I am having an X-ray to check it’s not anything more than physio can sort out.
I also got semi-dragged to the med school by one of my friends to attend a wilderness talk. I’m not interested in wilderness medicine but it was their dad giving the talk so I decided to hobble up there. IT was actually a really good talk and I became engrossed with all the travelling doctor stories to Papua New Guinea, Mount Kilimanjaro and Syria. The tribe in Pappua New Guinea still used basic archery to hunt and use in tribe wars but the detailing on the arrows was incredible. We even got introduced to the blood stick which had been removed from someone’s abdomen and still had the blood on. Nice.
Another half day off as we had Psych workshops in the afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect from these as we had already had our psych week and it was less than ideal. However, they were actually really useful. It was 5 scenarios with SIM actors covering different psych conditions such as self-harm, low mood and MMSE exam. However, just my luck I get alcohol abuse and the most intense SIM I have ever met. He actually apologised to me after because he had to be so mean !
Thoroughly exhausted, I trudged the 20 minutes back to my car but then did a diversion to ASDA to pick up a blanket covered in bumblebees I had been craving for weeks. I was a very happy bee that evening.
Back to community for a final day. We were sent out with the District nurses and it has to be the most eye-opening experience of my life. We were mainly doing wound dressing but that wasn’t the part that gave me the biggest reality check and learning experience. It was seeing the conditions some of our patients live in. It’s so easy to forget that patients have lives outside of the hospital and what world we are sending them back to once we discharge them.
I got back to the clinic and was still struggling to take in what I had seen that morning. I was chatting with the nurses about what I had seen and they were telling me stories of some of the patients they had seen. I was also surprised by how many patients smoke in their own homes despite all the advice they probably had been given. However, we are not there to judge, I just couldn’t help but wonder how much of their environment was having an effect on their health.
It was a quick afternoon. Just more tick boxing and showing that we had done the e-learning we were supposed to do. Everyone kept going on about 5 certificates. I was so confused, I had one overall one but it looked correct. Turns out, the 15 modules I had worked my way through on one evening, could have been only 5 and that I had spent four hours doing these modules when I could have spent one ……..
I slammed my head down on the table in misery. Serves me right for not reading the module handbook really. Before we left for the week we had a chat about cornona (we are all confused as it if we need to worry or not) and were treated to some amazing cakes by our placement lead. Worry not , I have the recipe !
I headed back and after picking some McBurger sauces up from McDonalds (judge me, go on), I headed back to a Friday evening supposedly catching up on work …… that did not happen.
Woke up today with the news Corona has spread to Coventry with one patient being treated in UHCW for it. Here we go ……