All 31 entries tagged Abbie

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March 24, 2020

Coro NO a

I tried to go for a pun in the title. I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Corona or as it is officially known, Covid-19. I have to admit, it’s been in the back of my mind since the first cases arrived in the UK but I never once believed it would get to the stage it has today. It’s affected people everywhere and posed a particular problem to medical students.

We turned up to our placement on Monday. I’ve officially moved hospitals and I am now at George Eliot (fondly known as Geliot), a small local hospital and a million miles away from what I have known at UHCW. We can get a cup of coffee for a £1 here for starters. We were issued our passes and then went out to explore the hospital before our welcome lecture from Dr Nair at 12:30pm. My clinical partner and I decided to hunt down one of our consultants who is a Respiratory consultant to say hello and get to know her timetable. We eventually found the ward and waited for her to arrive. It was weird, a new hospital, new wards, new staff. My brain was struggling to keep up. The side room behind us was being treated by nurses in full PPE. Our doctor arrived and as we said hello, we knew were not going to be there long. She explained how she didn’t want medical students on the ward because of the extra workload they were facing, however, she did provide us with a timetable of her work life which was brilliant.

We ended up wandering the hospital unsure of what to do next when we bumped into the F3 who was on the ward who offered to take us to the morgue. We accepted but I was a bit hesitant about what we were going to see. We stepped in and watched the doctor checking for pacemakers. It was profound to see those who had passed on, and coming out of the room, my brain was still trying to process everything I had seen.

We went to grab a cup of tea after to sit down and mull over everything when we found out others had been removed from the wards and were upstairs. We ended up all sitting in the canteen, delving into Geliot's well-talked about ice cream bar, waiting for 12:30pm to arrive. However, word began to leak through that all first-year teaching had been cancelled. I was pretty sure what that meant for us then. Then the email came through to say we were off placement for two weeks. It felt odd. On one hand we were happy, we wouldn’t be posing an infection risk anymore and it meant we had a bit of a break after our first 10 weeks of placement. On the other hand, we were disappointed as it meant two weeks of nothing but theory and no clinical time, especially when we had only been at our new hospital for four hours.

We met Dr Nair for a hello and goodbye session before making our way back home. Luckily for me, it meant I could have the afternoon sleeping off my newly developed cold (not covid, runny nose, no cough, no high temp) and not have to miss placement.

The next few weeks will be interesting and worrying. A lot of my year have gone home to help the NHS in their old roles of HCA/nursing/ODP and many more. I just hope they stay safe. For me, I’m trying to see if I can get a job as a HCA or help out at local GPs. I can take bloods, insert a cannula, do obs, and now ABGs. I want to help out but if helping out means staying away, then I guess it’s the presentation list for me! There’s schemes being set up across the country by med students offering child/pet care for health professionals who are caught on the Covid front line which I think is brilliant. We are all DBS checked, and have a lot of time on our hands!

How this is going to affect the future of my degree is unknown, how it’s going to affect the NHS is unknown. The next few weeks will bring change but by sticking together (figuratively), following guidelines and keeping safe, that’s the best we can do for now.


March 19, 2020

Yes I cannula

We are coming up to the final weeks of our block and getting ready to move on to our next placements. I am moving to George Elliot which is a general district hospital which will be a million miles away from UHCW, but a welcome change.

However, before we get there, we still have three more weeks left of our speciality block to get through. We started out with peri-op. This is basically everything that happens just before and after you have an operation. It was nice to be away in theatres for a change and I have fully decided that I want to live in scrubs for the rest of my life. It was also an opportunity to find out more about anaesthetics which is a totally different speciality to what we have seen so far. I’ve encountered anaesthetists already on the labour ward but this was a chance to find out more about the speciality when it comes to operations.

We began watching general surgery which was a hernia repair. I was interested as to how they put the patient to sleep and what drugs were used. I was watching the cannula being inserted like a hawk as it’s a skill I’ve been nervous about due to the fiddly nature of it, but I’m keen to get one done this week. The anaesthetist took us aside in the theatre and talked us through methods of cannulation and egged us on to practise our one-handed technique. We spend the next 20 minutes inserting a cannula into the packaging it came it. It felt weird but was great practise. We had to go then for teaching on otoscopy which is looking into people’s ears. I seem to have a thing where I keep getting ear infections, so I am familiar with the tools of the trade. I think what I took away from this session most of all however was a little motivational talk I got from the doctor.

I mentioned how I had gone off surgery since I don’t feel like I can cope in a world where people are a vastly different personality type to me. I am a bit fluffy, and most surgeons are not. I said I would rather be happy in all the years of my career than happy just at the end. She told me off for thinking this way, that I should never give up just because I don’t fit in, and that I should make my career fit with me. She said we need more female surgical consultants. I admit I did feel a sense of comradery after this but I just think I have drifted away from the idea. I don’t mind, I have a deepening love of paediatrics and a goal of getting to GOSH that no one is going to stop me getting to.

Aside from the small uplifting talk, I also achieved another milestone this week. On Tuesday we had a couple of surgeries and a lovely anaesthetist who allowed me to practise my cannulation. On my third patient, I managed to completely insert the cannula, completely unaided from beginning to finish. Inside I was grinning ear to ear. My demon had been banished. I asked our lovely anaesthetist to sign my cannula off but she stated she wasn’t a doctor so couldn’t do it. I was so confused; she had run all the induction and was alone in the theatre running it. Turns out she was an anaesthetist associate. I had never heard of that role before, so it was nice to actually have a chat and find out more. We are encountering physicians associates at George Elliot (fondly known as Gelliot) so it was nice to have a chat with someone of a similar background.

I can’t wait to move on. My next post will be coming from after I start at Gelliot but reflecting on block one, I have three memorable moments:

  1. Helping to deliver a baby
  2. Meeting my first paeds patient in GP and getting two hugs as a thank you and finally...
  3. Having a neonate baby hold my little finger whilst they were having a cannula inserted.

It’s been a eye-opening 10 weeks and I’m looking forward to the next 10, even if it is partly because I’m looking forward to my week off in May!


February 21, 2020

Happy birthday!

Labour ward here I come! I may have dragged my tired brain out of bed when my alarm went off at 5 so I could grab the first bus off campus but it was so so worth it.

On my first shift, I was assigned to the Lucina ward where low risk births happen. The rooms were beautiful with huge birthing pools, lots of beanbags, and fairy lights in the ceiling giving the impression we were under the nights sky. Unfortunately, we had no patients (which I think is a first for the NHS) and the Lucina ward was shut down. I ended up shadowing the midwife who was originally on Lucina with me. I went into the room of a mother who was having contractions and I ended up chatting to the student midwife there. We don’t get an awful lot of interaction with other healthcare students as student nurses are so busy, you feel bad for disturbing them. She taught me about interpreting the CTG (the machine producing the wiggly line you see on one born every minute) and I began to see the wood for the trees with interpreting the lines.

As the pregnancy progressed, I saw how midwifes cope with the transition to the final part of labour and before I knew it, I was watching a beautiful baby boy being born. Mum was exhausted and it struck me just how misshapen babies heads are when they are first born. I was so happy for the rest of the day and I got to do some minor tasks around the ward such as taking blood and doing general obs. It felt amazing to be included in the team and I went home a happy student, if slightly tired.

My next shift, however, was one I will never forget. The first part of the day was quiet, and we were waiting around for something to happen. This is the norm on labour ward. When we turned up the midwives were joking around saying we should have turned up 12 hours earlier as they had birthed 14 babies overnight. I got to experience the delights of the labour ward toast (a legend passed down in the medical school) and attempted to draw blood. I decided to make it a mini-cex so I had a ST4 anaesthetist shadowing me which was terrifying. I was struggling to get the blood so eventually, he had to step in to help, which was slightly annoying as I couldn’t use it as a sign off but hey ho!

In the afternoon I ended up in a room with a lovely couple who were roughly my age. Being in that room was brilliant as everyone was joking around and we were chatting about everything from English lessons at school to favourite Disney movies. At one point I forgot I was on labour ward!

Eventually, the contractions got more frequent and before I knew it I was helping set up the labour equipment and the midwife was putting out sterile gloves for me and I was fully involved in the labour process. I could see the baby’s head appearing and before I knew it the midwife grabbed my hands and I helped the rest of the body to be born and passed baby up to mum with the midwife guiding my hands. I had just helped deliver a baby. I had the biggest grin on my face and I am not sure who was happier, the parents or I! I helped the midwife birth the placenta meaning I got to examine the placenta with the amniotic sac attached. It was incredible to remember that the placenta and the baby had all originated from two half cells. I wanted to stay to find out how much the baby weighed and its measurements as the parents had predicted and I wanted to see if they were right or not. When I looked at the clock after we had cleaned up I realised, I had done 14 hours on labour ward! However, I didn’t care. I had just helped a baby come into the world and no feeling could beat that.

I have two teddy cut outs on my wall now (pink and blue) to remind me of the two births I had seen. It will be an experience I will carry through me for the rest of this year and although I don’t think obs and gyne was for me, I enjoyed every second there.


February 10, 2020

Next Please!

This week we got to have our first taste at being a GP. I have to admit , it’s not a career that I have ever seen myself going into. I thought it was all going to be colds and coughs but, I was proved wrong!

Our GP is the Gabels Medi Centre so, it isn’t too far to get to and when they said our first week started at 10am, my tired brain celebrated! I could get up after 7am! We were welcomed and made to feel part of the team immediately and it felt amazing to be there. I was initially out in to observe a nurse and I got to see 12 month vaccinations. It sparked a conversation about the anti-vax movement which is increasing in the UK and the mum herself knew of someone who was anti-vax but had managed to be persuaded to give her child the vaccinations. It was interesting and gave me a bit of food for thought for the day.

In the afternoon we attended the sister practise up the road and met our mentor who was to oversee us through the next 7 weeks. We also run our own consultations in GP but I didn’t expect to be running them on the first day. I did feel a little out of my depth but I soon began to enjoy it. It’s nice having the GP there in the back of the room to glance to for help. In fact, on my first case I virtually ran to her in my mind as my patient had a rash from a suspected diabetic foot complication. They were a lovely patient but unbeknownst to me, I had severely over run my appointment! Must.Get.Better.At.Directing.Consultations......

However, my other patients were also lovely and the most surprising thing to me was the variety. I honestly did not expect to be jumping around each system between appointments, especially at this time of the year when colds and coughs are rife. It was also nice to get feedback from both my CP and GP and also give the same to my CP. I think we are both wobbly on histories and we both need to work on getting our consultations quicker but we came out of that day beaming.

It felt like we had made a difference to patient care, especially when the GP was going off our suggestions! I had my foot patient coming back for the next week so I need to read up on diabetic treatment. It felt amazing to be put on the spot but also to drag information from the depths of your brain and put it into practical use out in healthcare. I think we both went home thinking a lot more about GP as a potential career but I know that paediatrics is still my forward choice at the moment.

We’ve also had our first community midwife shifts and again, I loved every second. I met a two day year old baby and I had to control every fibre of me that just wanted to pick her up and have a cuddle. The visit was to check in on both mum and baby and to answer any questions mum and dad have. It was clear the little one was a tad early but apparently that’s all babies, appear when you’re not quite ready ! I also got to see a heal prick test carried out on a 5 day old which was nice to see as we were taught about these in Block 5 last year.

In the afternoon I got to sit in on some check up visits with mums still pregnant and help the midwife with urine dipsticks and got the chance to feel the bumps for babies' head and bum. It felt amazing to be allowed into such an important part of the couples lives and I was allowed to take a maternity information pack away with me to look at in my own time.

Im finding that I love the clinical side of the medical degree. It’s making me think of other career options and being able to put into place all the theory I learnt last year, put all that work last year into context. We’ve got labour ward shifts coming up which I am really looking forward to… well, apart from the early starts! 'Til next time – Abbie.


January 27, 2020

Getting into the swing of clinical life

Term didn’t exactly start out how I wanted it to. I pictured jumping into clinical life, getting to know my consultant and getting to grips with managing hospital life with solo learning. My immune system, however, had different ideas. So, instead of getting sign offs done and (more importantly) enjoying paediatric week, I was at home with a mammoth ear infection (think IV morphine) thoroughly researching the patient journey. However, I eventually got back, managed to set off my hall’s fire alarm cooking biscuits (and suffered the mocking of 90X 18 year olds) and started my clinical life in care of the elderly.

I hadn’t thought much about this speciality to be honest. I was so driven on surgery and neuro that the idea of being on the ward caring for elderly hadn’t taken any of my interest but,now I’m drifting away from the idea of surgery, I found that I loved being on the ward and getting to know the patients there. We arrived at 9am on Monday morning and I felt immediately included into the team which was amazing. You always hear of these horror stories of being left out in the cold as such but it was like we were important to the doctors there. We sat in on the board round which involved a lot of medical abbreviations but thankfully I was able to keep up as I’ve decided to use a tablet to take notes, which means I can quickly google things I don’t understand. The team even stopped at one point to explain lasting power of attorney and what they can do if they feel the appointed person isn’t acting in the patients best interests. We were also alerted to a flu diagnosis on the ward meaning everyone was told to get their flu jab (my clinical partner was virtually dragged by a nurse to get his!). I had mine earlier as I wanted the free pen and sticker to go with it. Even at 23 years old I can’t resist a sticker…..

We were assigned to a consultant and as a group of three took a history, general and focused exam on a patient who had been admitted with shortness of breath. She was lovely and had so much to say so we were struggling to steer the conversation in the direction we needed to. I think it’s being British, we never want to be rude! My history taking has definitely taken a turn for the worse since OSCE’s last year (sorry, Prof Patel!) so I need to review my structure. We were then taken aside and given some tips on OSCE skills and common mistakes to avoid. I had some slight tachycardia during this point as I’m 60% sure the consultant was examining me in my exam last year when I completely forgot to ask patient details!

The rest of the week flew by and I got two sign off’s done. There was a potential third sign off but if I have learnt anything this week, it’s that elderly veins are hard to draw blood from. You can hit the vein and they will not bleed, yet when you remove the needle they bleed everywhere and you panic inside to stop the bleed and not look completely incompetent (totally didn’t happen to me this week).

We have also been in the presence of an amazing F1 who was chasing us around the ward telling us to go and see patients, recommending certain exams to do on them and offering us procedures at every stage. He was lovely and a Warwick grad! It does make you feel like there is a light at the end of this tunnel when you see someone who was once in your boat out there and doing well. He was also teaching us at every stage he could (even getting dragged away by the consultant because they had to get work done). I hope to be like that as an F1 one day. I know I am going home for F1 now just to save costs and be near family so, I will have Kings College and the new Kent and Medway Medical School students to teach so, I am hoping to pass down Warwick Wisdom. If I get there!

I love being able to teach myself the topics we need to know and I am finding it easier to retain information. I just have to get used to being tired after hospital as at the moment all I want to do is go to sleep! I'm looking forward to the rest of the block as I am on O&G, finally going to GP placement and going back into theatre with anaesthetics, a speciality of which is now growing on me. I guess that’s it for me now, good luck to all our amazing final years with their finals! You will all SMASH it!



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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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