March 31, 2014

In the deep end

My first week on my Orthopaedic and Anaesthetic block was dedicated entirely to Anaesthetics. For anyone who doesn’t know, an anaesthetist is a doctor whose responsibility it is to ensure a patient is asleep and comfortable during an operation. The majority of an anaesthetist’s clinical commitment is spent in theatre.


Our first proper day with our consultant was on a Tuesday. Our instructions were to meet him on the pre-op ward for the Obstetrics and Gynaecology list. Simple enough instructions, but it took us a good deal of walking around the hospital to find the right ward and by the time we had got there the anaesthetist had already seen the first patient. No worries though as he seemed to sympathise and we quickly found ourselves observing him performing a pre-operative assessment on a patient. After watching him assess the patient he turned to us and said “Okay, so now you have seen one you can do the other two between yourselves. I will see you in theatre.” I laughed, but before I had realised it wasn’t a joke, he had already left the ward.

This is what it has felt like since starting on rotation, as though you are in the deep end, and I love it! Whilst it is incredibly daunting, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hate standing around watching people talk and do things; I much prefer to be doing it myself. Unfortunately, what I also hate is doing things wrong, and I seem to have been doing a lot of that lately, but I guess that is part of the learning process.

Fast forward two less than ideal anaesthetic pre-assessments later and we find ourselves heading to theatre. We walk into the reception area and without even opening our mouths we are greeted with “Are you medical students?” Now, yes, we are medical students but I am amazed how many people know this without me even saying it. Patients aren’t so good at telling, but hospital staff seem to be experts at knowing, it’s almost second nature. It keeps happening. How, how on earth does almost every hospital employee know we are students? Either there is a big sign over my head that I can’t see, or I don’t have as good a poker face as I’d like to think and I constantly look how I feel – a mix between a deer stuck in headlights and child in a sweet shop! Unfortunately, I think it’s the latter.

On this occasion however I am glad we were noticed as fresh-faced medical students because the first time you turn up to theatre is quite intimidating. Much like everyone who realises we are medical students, the operating theatre manager was very good in showing us where the changing rooms and operating theatres were and letting us know what to do. It is really nice how helpful people have been to us.

When you go into an operating theatre you have to wear scrubs, and if anyone hasn’t told you, they are one of the most comfortable things in the world to wear. I think a lot of anaesthetists love their job because essentially they wear pyjamas for the most of the day.

student medics

Now I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking this, one of the biggest challenges of any surgical or anaesthetic rotation is finding clogs that match! Clogs are the shoes that you have to wear in an operating theatre. When you arrive in the changing room you are greeted by a box of clogs which look as though they have been filed away using the same system a toddler uses to put their toys in a toy box. It is chaos. If you are contentious enough (like you will be in your first week at least) you will spend at least five minutes searching for a pair of clogs that are the right size, the same colour and the same design. Basically a matching pair, but I am pretty certain there are no matching pairs in these boxes.

I have rambled on a bit about things that are quite non-medical in this post. Next time my post will be more medically focused. A lot of time and energy does need to be spent on learning where places are, different etiquettes in different areas and how to get the most out of our time. Now that’s out the way, I feel I can focus purely on Medicine; let the fun and games really begin!

Amrit :-)

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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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