The end of an era..
Well that’s it, I’m done, finished, finito! I handed over my assistantship booklet to be signed off on our last day and with a quick smile and a tick by my name I had completed medical school. Where has the last 4 years gone? I remember in first year seeing the final year students revising and thinking how far away that seemed, and now it has come and gone!
The last few weeks of medical school have been useful, strange but useful. I was no longer with my clinical partner who I have come to rely on for so many things in life and people were starting to expect more from me on ward rounds than lurking at the back. Adjusting to a new set of expectations from others, as well as myself, has taken some getting used to and my learning curve has only just begun.
Our 2-month long assistantship block has been useful in preparing me for life as an FY1 Doctor. I feel much more confident in some of my clinical skills and feel comfortable talking to patients and colleagues alike. I also feel more comfortable asking for help. In medicine it is just as important to know when to ask for help as it is identifying situations where you know it is safe to take the lead. This skill will set me in good stead as I expect to be asking lots of people for help most of the time when I first start my job! I also took the opportunity to do a few night shifts so I know what to expect. I shadowed one of Warwick’s brilliant clinical educational fellows for their night shift as they provided ward cover. For a small hospital like Warwick there is just one person covering the wards at night, with a registrar on site and a consultant at home for back up. Observing and helping with the types of jobs that crop up on night shift was very useful, one ward had a patient with terminal cancer with nausea and wanted advice as to what medication might work best, another ward had a patient who had fallen out of bed and hit their head who required assessment, other jobs included new cannulas so that medication or fluids could continue. We were also responsible for crash calls, both nights there were crash calls-one of which I had to put out myself which was nerve-wracking. I felt quite jittery after the crash calls but it’s better to be exposed to emergency situations as medical student first than experience those situations for the first time when you are the doctor called to that situation.
Amongst assistantship I have also had some serious life admin to organise, namely moving to a new house and starting my new job. Moving to a new house is always stressful and I’m trying to put off packing as long as possible but I also needed to go up to Newcastle, where I will be starting work, for a HR appointment and blood test before I could start my new job. I was quite excited to visit the hospital where my first rotation is for the first time, even if it was for a blood test! Walking the corridors that had the same NHS familiarity to them, made me realise that in just 4 weeks’ time I am going to have an ID badge around my neck saying Dr Joanne Wallace, and all the responsibility that comes with that.
We had our graduation ball in our last week, which was great send off for us all. It was great to celebrate all our achievements in medical school on a beautiful summers evening with a glass of bubbly in hand! The next time I see lots of my colleagues will be at graduation in a few weeks. At graduation we will all stand and recite the Declaration of Geneva in unison, and then 25 years after drawing a picture of myself in a white coat when I was in primary school, I’ll finally be able to call myself a Doctor. This is the end of my medical student story, I wish you all the best of luck in your own stories!