I have been continuing my employment as a Medical Student Clinical Assistant at University Hospital Coventry. I feel as though I have really settled into my job role and learned how to do it proficiently. Things which at the start were a total mystery to me are now not so mysterious, nor nearly as scary. Specifically, aspects such as filling in fluid balance charts, attending to the personal hygiene of the patients and dealing with confused patients. These are things which we are taught the theory of at medical school, but never get the chance to practice in reality as these jobs are often done by the nursing and healthcare assistant staff. I’ve definitely exercised a completely different skillset to that which I was using as a student!
I had a lovely chat with one of the experienced staff nurses this week about how valuable this experience will be when I go back to placement and eventually (hopefully) start work as a junior doctor. Whilst medical school prepares us well in terms of our understanding of conditions and their management there are some things that I have only experience during my time working on the wards. For example, whilst we are taught in detail about the science of fluid metabolism I had never encountered a fluid balance chart before but now realise how crucial being able to both fill in and interpret one will be when I am a junior doctor. It goes to show there is only so much lectures and workshops can teach you and that there are many lessons to be learned by being immersed in the clinical setting!
I’m hoping some of my present experiences will make the transition to a junior doctor easier when that does happen, but presently I do feel as though gaps remain.
Another thing that I have enjoyed during my time working is how I feel like part of the team. I am, indeed, expected to contribute to the work of the HCAs and nurses and I feel as though I have approached the work with gusto. I have done lots of observations, some ECGs and even some bloods. I know that medical students who are working are all having different experiences and I am sad that I haven’t had a chance to do some more bloods, cannulas etc, which would provide good experience for me at this stage. I know other students working on other wards have had the chance to do these, but there isn’t much demand for these skills on my ward.
That brings me to an update about when placement will resume. We have been told that placements may resume either in July or September, depending on the NHS situation. We would still need to do all of the placements that we would have done anyway, but of course we have now missed at least 4 months of placement. I think the discussions at the moment are of moving our final exams to later in the year, not having an elective period and reducing our summer holiday before starting work. At the moment there are lots of “maybes” and it really depends on the course of the coronavirus. I hope that we do get back to placement soon, as I really miss Medicine. So stay inside, for my sake!