August 15, 2019

Signing off for Summer

What. A.Year.

It’s flown by and it only feels like 5 seconds ago I was walking in through the doors of WMS and collecting my orange lanyard. I still can’t believe that I’ve managed to learn as much as I have learnt and got through the exams. If you had shown to me all the work I would be doing over this year and how much I would have to learn back in September, I probably would have frozen to the spot with fear.

Apart from the academia, I have learnt so much about how I need to approach next year. For starters, I need to take time out. I’ve spent too much time glued to my desk in the MTC before exams and I was most certainly burnt out by the time we reached the end of OSCEs. I want to get involved in running student seminars, anatomy days, physiology days and take time out for climbing and friends. I also want to get involved in research up at UHCW and start to build on my CV and surgical experience in the field I want to follow.

Second year also brings about the arrival of SSC1 which is a module we get to pick. There were a couple of options that took my interest, but I decided to go for Middlemarch (medical humanities) as my first choice and medical ethics as my second. This morning I found out I got my first choice of Middlemarch and I can’t wait to get into the book when it arrives tomorrow. I was surprised that I got my first choice because this is normally the most popular one so I was pretty happy when it came through. I am looking forward to it because I can potentially bring my favourite book into the coursework element of it, and I don’t need telling twice to be able to talk about “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time”.

I am also looking forward to maintaining my links with GOSH over the next year. I have been privileged enough to be invited back to sit on their summer school de-brief to discuss how to promote GOSH educational events, and hopefully be able to volunteer at their conferences in the future. This is the hospital I have always dreamed of working in. The recent separation of the twins conjoined at the cranium was just the extra motivation I need to keep going. I want to be there, at the front line of developing technologies helping to make critically ill children’s lives better. I knew I always wanted to work in the field of paediatrics, but having experienced and talked to the clinicians at GOSH, I know that’s where I need to be and where my personality and enthusiasm fits in the best.

GOSH seems to be a repeating theme with me and during the past couple of weeks, I have also been to Brain School which has been set up by a GOSH neurosurgeon. I’ve wanted to attend this event for a while but it’s difficult to get down to London with the first-year timetable so now I am back in Kent, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go. The lecture was given by Prof. Mark Wilson (who is also running trials at Warwick!) and he talked about Neuro trauma and how these patients need to be treated more specifically in the field. I also learnt a few “pub quiz” facts such as “the cranium will always contain the same amount of blood when you die no matter if you have died from haemorrhage or asphyxiation” and “the brain is the only organ that is protected against atmospheric pressure”. We were also introduced to the Good Sam app which allows a by-stander to activate an alert for a cardiac arrest to near responders and for remote responders to see the patient’s stats, just by the camera. It uses some AI technology but just by holding the camera to the patients face, it shows blood oxygen saturation and heart rate with complete accuracy. This was incredible and I can imagine how critical it will be for incidents in remote areas where it may take responders more time to arrive at the scene in comparison to an inner-city cardiac arrest.

I am now signing off for the summer. I’ve got some work with Medify to try and give me a bit of pocket money but I want this summer to be a break. This has been a hard year. I am slightly nervous abut adapting to the change of learning style in January next year from lectures to bedside teaching. I don’t deal hugely well with dramatic changes and it will be weird coming out of 4 straight years of lectures to an academic day once every two weeks. However, I am looking forward to it. There’s only so much lecture hall you can put up with! I’ll see you in September!

Good luck to the second years who are currently revising for their exams!

August 13, 2019

# NOF, #cutebabies

Last weekend I took part in the second year MOSCE day. A MOSCE is the same thing as an OSCE, but a mock/practice version. Second year is quickly coming to an end, with only 5 weeks left until our end of second year exams, one aspect of which is our OSCE (or clinical examinations). The MOSCE was kindly set up and run by current third years, and was set up like an actual mock-exam, where we rotated around various stations. In these we did various clinical skills, for example a history-taking for chest pain and then interpretation of an ECG.

In our first year OSCEs last year we would have 10 minutes to conduct a clinical examination or history (so one station would be 10 minutes taking a chest pain history). This year, however, we only have 7 minutes and we are expected to complete multiple tasks in that time (so it can be a short history, an examination and interpreting a test result all in one station). These are much closer to how we will actually be working as doctors, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting. There is a real time pressure to complete the various tasks in the time – its almost like a quiz show where the prize isn’t a holiday in Hawaii, it’s a step in the road to a medical degree!

On Monday I had my last labour shift for this year. We’ve had three labour shifts across this block and I have been lucky enough to see a variety of different births (including caesareans, natural births, forceps deliveries). I’ve been really lucky to have the chance to see so much, and I feel as though I’ve seen a good variety of cases to provide a good grounding for more detailed training on Obs & Gynaecology next year. I feel hugely privileged to have been present at these births and a very small part of seeing these babies into the wide world. Nothing beats the blues like seeing a cute baby!

Today I attended Fracture clinic with my Orthopaedic consultant. When I started this block and found out my consultant was an Orthopaedic surgeon, I was dreading having to spend time in Orthopaedics as so far on the course I really hadn’t enjoyed it at all. For whatever reason, I just didn’t find bones, tendons or muscles (the remit of Orthopaedics) interesting in the slightest. However….I have really enjoyed my time this block! This has surprised me (and probably everyone around me), but we’ve done some cool things and seen some complicated fractures and bone injuries. I am really drawn specifically to the Trauma aspect of Orthopaedics (so broken bones and car accidents etc), and look forward to hopefully spending more time in fracture clinic and in theatre soon.

Medicine sometimes feels like another language, so here is one abbreviation to help demystify things slightly. Your femur is your thigh bone, and at the top there’s a narrow area we call this the neck. In patients with osteoporosis (brittle bones), this neck is a weak area which can break with falls and accidents. For whatever reason, a fracture is written as a hashtag (#), so a fractured neck of femur is called a # Neck of Femur (#NOF for short).

July 19, 2019

Visiting GOSH

I decided that despite a year of intense studying, I had not quite had enough of sitting in a lecture theatre. I had been lucky enough to win a free ticket to GOSH Summer School and having passed first year, I was excited to get on a train to pop home for a couple of days so I could commute to London. However, come 8:50am on the Monday morning, I was not enjoying the crush on the train.

I got to GOSH for 9:15am and picked up my name badge and they had changed it to say second year which was lovely! I ended up chatting to a medical student from Vienna before we had our first session of the day from Prof. Fertleman about her life as a paediatric consultant. I really enjoyed her talk as she was lively, and you could see the passion she had for her job. I also found out later she likes to terrorise the junior docs after she ran after one of them on their first day shouting “They are stealing the notes, they are stealing the notes” before catching up with them and saying “Only joking, I’m your consultant, let’s start the rounds, shall we?”. I think I would have needed a week off after that scare if it had been me.

We also had a couple of talks from surgeons at GOSH which was my original career plan. The surgeries to correct birth defects were fascinating to listen to and I could see myself coming away from the brain and to the pioneering surgeries in this field. This defect away from my norm surprised me as I was pretty much set on my career path! We also had a talk from Prof. Paolo De Coppi about his work in regenerative medicine. He was part of the team that created the first stem cell tracheal transplant and the recipient is still doing well two years later. This again was incredible to learn about as these Stem Cell transplants will become the norm for us as we progress through our career.

We were also given a lot of careers advice through dedicated careers lectures and a career fair. The idea of an F3 year between qualifying and starting specialty training kept being repeated to us over the course of the three days so it is something I need to look into. The careers fair was useful because we were able to talk to consultants without the traditional student-consultant barrier and I got some insight into different specialties which has made me think about what I want to do when I qualify. One of these was PICU (paediatric intensive care unit). The consultant was lovely and was open and honest when we asked him about why he has chosen PICU over NICU. I was also able to chat with the professor who had run a session for us on the first day in which my group won the presentations and a GOSH textbook! I was chatting to him about getting into research and what consultants expect from their medical students when it comes to helping out on projects in hospital. He was lovely and told me to just get out there and do it. It did boost my confidence a bit because being in a lecture theatre where you are the only one who didn’t get straight A’s at A Level, you can feel a bit like the underdog. I also had a conversation with one of the Neurology consultants at GOSH about how best to prepare for applying to work in the neurosciences and the answer was what I was expecting: Get involved in research and show dedication. He seemed receptive when I was talking about my undergraduate degree so I am hoping that is a arrow in my quiver already.

After our careers fair we also had a GOSH arts session where we had 44 medical students standing up all singing, and I have to say for a bunch of people who have seen the inside of a hospital more than their own homes over the past couple of years, the harmonies were really good!

We also had a small drinks party after the second day. This was held on top of GOSH hospital and you could see out all over London. It was a beautiful day and we were being shown buildings such as the royal collages around GOSH. It was a lovely evening just getting to talk with other med students from different universities. I even bumped into a F1 from George Elliot! I also got talking with a soon to be F1 about being a medic at Glastonbury and he was telling me about how they managed to get discounted training though having a large group so I’ll be looking into getting a couple of Warwick guys down!

Overall the three days were invaluable to me. The best advice I received all week though from the medical director at GOSH was “you shouldn’t ever change yourself to suit the job you are going for, instead be bold and be the person to be different”, so I guess surgery has a quirky, excitable medical student heading their way!


July 11, 2019

Babies, sleep deprivation and festivals!

Last Friday I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Warwick MB ChB Education conference, where all of the staff involved in education at the Medical School attend and share ideas. I was there presenting a poster I had been involved in with a third-year medical student and one of the faculty who teaches on the course. We were presenting a method of teaching professionalism to medical students and the poster was well received by the attendees, with lots of interest in our work. It was quite surreal to be at a conference with all the people who are usually teaching me, but everyone was very welcoming to the students who were there and keen to hear our ideas about how teaching on the course could be improved. There were also lots of new ideas about how to innovate in teaching medical students, which as a student who is very keen on being involved in teaching, were of great interest to me as to how I could improve my own teaching skills. For example, one of the anatomy teachers was showing us a method called “Do It, draw it”, which is about using visual cues such as drawing structures and ideas and acting them out as an aid to remembering them. I found this fascinating as an idea for how to teach complex ideas to students and is something I will try when I next get the chance to teach. Overall, the conference really helped confirm for me that I want to be very involved in medical education as I progress throughout my career and has given me some practical ideas as to how to improve my own teaching skills.

This week my clinical partner and I had our first shift on a labour ward, which also happened to also be my first ever night shift! It was slightly surreal turning up to hospital at 7:30pm, to get changed into scrubs and meet our assigned midwife for the evening. This shift gave us an introduction to childbirth, and we were attached to a midwife who took us through the labouring process. The time went quicker than I expected, although I did start to flag at about 4am (nothing a bagel and sweets couldn’t sort). In the end I managed to see a natural birth and assisted delivery (where the doctors help mum in getting the baby out). I was hugely thankful to the mums I was able to be with at such a stressful time. It was a very special experience (albeit tense and dramatic at times) and I loved forming a bond with the mums, willing them on and reassuring them throughout the process. Both births ended well, with two perfectly formed babies, and I even got a chance to cuddle one of them for a while whilst mum got some rest (call me Uncle Jordan). I was exhausted by the time 8am came around, having been awake for a straight 24 hours in total, but it was totally worth it for the experience.

I managed to get some rest on Friday, and then Saturday I was up nice and early again to head down to London. In the summer, I help out as a first aider at festivals, which is a great way to gain clinical experience (and also get paid to help buy all of those coffees which are a necessity as a medical student). While I’m there, I basically just help out with people who have accidents or are taken unwell at the festival. The company I work for creates a really supportive atmosphere, with senior nurses, paramedics and doctors on hand to help out with any patients you aren’t 100% sure with, so it is a great way to cut your clinical teeth and work the diagnostic muscles. I saw some pretty nasty trauma cases and injuries, as well as a fair share of people who had just had a bit much to drink! I’m sure it will be great experience when I come to my A+E placements in third year. Having had a great weekend with more than a few interesting cases, I ended up getting home at 1am Monday morning, ready to sleep and then start the week afresh. No rest for the wicked!


July 02, 2019

“Sharp scratch!”

During the last fortnight my clinical partner and I started our new GP placement. In contrast to the previous two surgeries we have been placed in which have been in more rural and suburban settings, our new placement is in the heart of Coventry city centre. It has been really eye opening to see the difference in patients, cases and the overall running of the surgery in this more diverse, busier setting. The patients we saw on our GP day tended to be younger and present with more acute illnesses, rather than follow-ups and monitoring of long-term conditions.

This week we also got the opportunity to spend time with two community midwives (and lots of cute babies of course!) If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really have much idea of the world of community midwifery but it was really interesting to see all that goes into pregnancy and post-natal care. I had the chance to get hands on and palpate the babies whilst they were still inside. Handily I was able to practice on the midwife I was shadowing as she was expecting too and kindly let me practice. The experience was really good fun and I left both days having learnt a lot (and feeling like I need a baby in my life – watch this space!).

I have also had my clinical skills session on giving injections and blood glucose testing. We were shown how to carry out several types of injections including intramuscular (for injections such as the flu vaccine) subcutaneous (for injections such as insulin delivery) and transdermal (for administering local anaesthetics). As for blood glucose testing, I had an unfair advantage over the majority of my colleagues as my partner is Type 1 diabetic. It felt quite exciting being able to practice these procedures and whilst they seem relatively simple it’s important, we are able to carry out these injections properly as they will be key skills in our day to day lives as doctors! I also learned the correct time to say “sharp scratch” when popping the needle in to distract the patient.

The clinical skills sessions in second year have probably been some of my favourite parts of the course as we get to learn the skills we will need to look after people, rather than just reading about things! Injection technique was our last clinical skill session for Year 2, and we have covered the core skills required of doctors – taking blood, putting in cannulas, acute assessments, life support, urinary catheterisation, administering oxygen, blood gases, blood glucose and finally now injections. After our assessments, we are now signed off as being able to go out and practice these skills under close supervision, which means that if the chance comes along, I will be able to have a go!


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About our student blogs

Our Med Life blogs are all written by current WMS MB ChB students. Although these students are paid to blog, we don’t tell our bloggers what to say. All these posts are their thoughts, opinions and insights. We hope these posts help you discover a little more about what life as a med student at Warwick is really like.

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