First week on placement
The light at the end of the tunnel, the thing that has kept us all going through the exam periods is finally upon us. We have all just finished our first week of our first rotation in hospital (or general practice).
Phase II starts with Junior Rotation where we have six eight-week blocks rotating through different specialities. I am starting with Orthopaedics and Anaesthetics, so simply put bone surgery and putting patients to sleep. We do this with our ‘clinical partner’, someone in our year that we have chosen to work with. When you pick your clinical partner it is suggested you pick someone of the opposite gender. The process of asking someone to be your clinical partner is like being back in secondary school and asking someone out to a school dance (at least I imagine this is how it would feel - I went to an all-boys school). All being well you will be with your clinical partner for over two years, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you have to pick your partner wisely!
Now, Phase II is very different to Phase I. Phase I was very structured; our days were full and we knew well in advance where we have to be and at what time. It is very much like our undergraduate degrees in this respect, but perhaps a little bit more full on. Phase II, the clinical phase, is very different to this. Before we start our block we are sent emails with our timetabled teaching (these are fairly spartan when compared to our previous timetables) and the name of our consultants, that is it. The rest is up to us. The guidance on the knowledge we should have acquired before sitting our final exams is in the form of learning objectives for each block. Some objectives are specific and some are vague, I imagine we will eventually develop the skill of determining how much depth to go into, but until then I will be drowning in an endless sea of medical information. This is all very alien when contrasted with the regimented style of learning used during Phase I. This is very exciting!
For each hospital rotation/block students are allocated two consultants, in this block I have one Anaesthetic and one Orthopaedic consultant. Students have to establish what the consultants expect; for example, when you will attend their clinical sessions (such as clinics and theatre), as well as deciding what we would like to get out of the block. My partner and I have decided that what we want from the block will mostly be dictated by the learning objectives.
Queue day one; we have nothing scheduled for our block so my clinical partner and I decide it would be wise to try and arrange a meeting with both of our consultants. We just have their names, so a call to the hospital switchboard and several different (wrong) phone numbers later and we have arranged a meeting with our anaesthetist and established that our orthopaedic consultant and his secretary are both on leave. This was quite handy as it meant we could devote our first week to one consultant and specialty allowing us to find our bearings and ease into things.