Over the last couple of weeks, I have busy getting stuck into my Anaesthetics block. This has mostly involved time in main theatres with the anaesthetists. We follow the patient journey through their operation, which was great as we saw the patient on the ward before the operation for their pre-operative assessment (to make sure they are fit for surgery), then in the anaesthetic room before surgery and then into theatre throughout the operation. The patients are understandably anxious before their surgery, and it was really nice to chat to them as they had their anaesthetic and hopefully distracted them from their anxiety (and the needles!), if only for a minute or two.
We saw some really interesting aspects of anaesthesia, including patients undergoing general anaesthetic (being sent to sleep), but also local anaesthetics and spinals (where an injection into the spinal cord directly numbs the nerve roots). I hadn’t really considered the fact that patient can undergo major surgeries with only spinal anaesthesia, meaning that they are awake throughout the procedure. I think more and more surgeries are being done in this way now, meaning that the risks and after effects of general anaesthesia can be avoided.
Another activity that I’ve been involved in recently is clinical audit. We have to do a research project as part of the course in third year (called Student Selected Component 2), but most students are also involved in additional audits or projects whilst studying. I think before I joined the course I hadn’t really considered anything other than getting onto the course itself and wasn’t really sure how to get involved in audits and the like or the value of doing these.
Students decide to take part for many reasons – prime amongst these is that an audit counts as extra “points” for foundation scheme places and thus makes you more likely to get the Foundation Doctor job that you want. As well as this, it gives you experience in research (essential aspects of a doctor’s career) and also gives you a chance to shape or contribute to improving patient care. Finding research projects isn’t too difficult – just chatting to some of the doctors that you meet during your placements anyway leads them to mention various projects they are involved in/want to start and most are very keen to get students on board to help with data collection.
One such chance encounter happened to me and my clinical partner whilst we were shadowing one of the doctors in anaesthetics, meaning that we are now involved in a project to look at complications post-surgery. We are involved in data collection, which involves looking at patient notes and recording details of the operation and then recording complications after the surgery has concluded. So far its been a very good experience of being involved in research and serves as good practice for reading patient notes to boot.
After a busy week, I definitely need a chance to unwind, and it so happens tonight is that chance. I’m part of the Teddy Bear Hospital Society and tonight we are holding a movie night for charity, and it happens to be a showing of The Greatest Showman – sing-along version! I’ve been rehearsing all week in preparation….