If I close my eyes I can still picture the second year exam pass list, seeing my name there and relief flooding over me, it feels like only yesterday. Since then I’ve started and completed a research project (student selected component 2), had a refresher course of hospital life (advanced cases 2) and had five of my speciality clinical placements. So far I’ve completed 6 week blocks in General practice, Child health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Care of the Medical patient and Care of the Surgical patient. There are no exams in third year (phew!) so the main thing to worry about is making sure you have submitted all the correct forms and assessments for every block on your e-portfolio.
It’s been a busy year since we started our speciality placements in January and I’m really looking forward to a break, every block has had its good and bad points, but all have been enjoyable and interesting in different ways. In General practice it was a great confidence boost to be able to conduct entire consultations on our own for the first time. In both child health and O&G we were exposed to a lot of intense emotions from both the patients and staff, helping care for sick children is about reassuring and supporting parents as well as providing medical care for their child and in O&G caring for the same patient over the course of a long labour is stressful for everyone involved. Care of the medical patient wasn’t just about the theory, our consultant always made us think about the person behind the disease and the effect on their life. Care of the surgical patient has been about when not to operate just as much as any of the surgical procedures, something which surprised me!
Learning when to intervene or not is a huge part of medicine but I suppose in surgery it is vital to ensure that if an operation is performed it is for the right reasons. The last two weeks of my surgery block at George Elliot hospital have been with a Breast Surgeon. The breast clinic is a one-stop clinic, patients are examined and can also have a mammogram and ultrasound of the breast and get the results on the same day. This means lots of patients can be reassured and others can be referred quickly for further investigations. A lot of the results are then discussed at the breast surgery multidisciplinary team meeting where histo-pathologists, oncologists and surgeons, radiologists and nurses all decide together the best course of treatment for patients. In some cases it could be a simple benign lump that needs no further treatment, or in others it could involve deciding what type of surgery or systemic treatment is required for a cancer. It’s great to see how these complex decisions are made as a medical student, I’ve certainly learnt not to believe everything I watch in Greys Anatomy!
Following our break I come back to the acute medicine block. I’ll be working evenings and nights in A&E as part of the team. This will be followed by the Psychiatry and Musculoskeletal blocks. During this time I will also apply for my foundation doctor jobs (i.e. decide where I want to live!) and sit the situational judgement test, which plays a huge part in what job I will get. It’s going to be a busy autumn for me but what’s important now is that I have 2 weeks off, time to relax, ready to come back as a final year medical student.