It’s hard to believe that we’ve come to the end of our fourth specialist clinical placement. This is officially our halfway point for Phase III, which means that we’ve got four more six-week blocks to go. It’s such a cliché, but time really is flying past. Seeing all of the first-year students celebrating the end of their exams recently has brought home the uncomfortable realisation that my cohort was in the exact same position already two years ago, and it’s become even more difficult to believe that a new cohort is starting in just a couple of months! Thankfully I can rest comfortably in the knowledge that I will never, but never repeat my first-year exams again.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology is really quite a diverse speciality – much more than I realised before starting. Obviously the focus is largely on women’s health (but not entirely…) but the clinical requirements on the doctors are really varied. It’s one of the only specialities I’ve come across which is a healthy mix between clinics, ward work, hands-on medicine and more than a little bit of surgery all in one role. Depending on the day of the week, doctors may find themselves performing hysteroscopies/colposcopies (visualising the vagina or uterus with a specialised camera), doing ward rounds, conducting caesarean sections, running clinics (either obstetric or gynaecological) and likely all of the above.
Being a student in this rotation has allowed us to see all of these and more. Our education department have done a great job of ensuring that we rotate throughout a few groups of learning opportunity: we have a labour week, a theatre week and a special-interests week, and we run through this cycle twice. I’ve probably enjoyed the theatre week the most of the three. It just amazes me to see open surgery (known as laparotomy, as opposed to keyhole surgery, which is otherwise known as laparoscopy). There is so much going on with the anatomy under the surface, and the doctors spend so much time concentrating on this and making sure that everything goes right; and then at the end when they patch everything up, all that’s left is a tiny little incision with invisible stitches which you can barely see. It’s such an amazing concept that it all tidies up so nicely and seeing it happen blows my mind every time.
This week in the theatre we’ve seen lots of gynaecological procedures, primarily dealing with ovarian and uterine disorders. We’ve seen the drainage and removal of several cysts (I’m not going to lie; it’s not for the weak-stomached among us), a couple of hysterectomies and a couple of removals of ectopic pregnancies. As is logical, we’ve seen women of all ages and all stages in life. Every woman is asked to provide her consent to our presence before we go into theatre and if she doesn’t want us there, then we observe her wishes. It’s been such a useful block and I’ve really got a lot out of it – I hope the remaining blocks are as good as this one has been.