All 38 entries tagged Abbie

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September 29, 2020

Welcome 2020 Cohort – Is your WIFI working?

We now have two sets of first years, the ones who are nervously cramming for their exam which has finally come around, and the new ones taking pictures with our infamous lanyards. I was honoured to be asked to talk to the new first years about “Succeeding in Medical School”. In my head I re-named it to “Don’t do anything I did in first year”. Medical school can be overwhelming, so I was keen to get across to the newbies that it is more important they get time out from the world they have just entered than try and finish that last lecture.

They all have been lovely, and I do feel sorry for them. I remember how good (if exhausting) my first week was. I loved the welcome ball, the medsoc nights out and generally getting to know the place I was calling home for the next four weeks.

My favourite part was heading up to the hospital for the first time which happened exactly a year ago today. That cheesy picture of us in front of the hospital makes me grimace now but at least we had the opportunity to get one. I also got to chat to some of them one their one day of the week they could come in. There were a lot of questions about foundation year applications which blew me away as I did not even know what the UKMLA was in my first year, and we were meant to be the first cohort to take it!

There was also a lot of concern about settling into Warwick which I fully get, however, I hope they will take use of campus. I must have advertised Curiositea (the on-campus coffee shop with the BEST hot chocolates) until I turned blue. I wonder if I can get a share of their profits? I hope they are not pulled out of face to face education for any longer than they need to be.

Meanwhile, I am still stuck in second year and with the first years taking their exam next week, I think it is really starting to hit home how long we have been stuck in this year. Describing myself as a second year makes me seem more in experienced than I am but I am not jinxing my exams by calling myself a third year yet! We are keen to move on, we have to just wait until January. However, the rising Covid-19 cases across the country do make me nervous about the future of my degree and if we are going to face being pulled out of placement again or even allowed to take practical examinations.

I am now at the end of my Medicine block and out of tiredness, myself and my clinical partner have decided to make this week a home study week (bar our GP placement). This means we can make sure we are fully caught up before surgery block begins. I am getting fit tested tomorrow, so I hope to be included in the anaesthetic process too!

Campus itself is becoming busier and I am having to remind myself that noise outside my room at 10pm is a normal thing again. We have had six months of silence, so it feels like a strange new world to have freshers back in the halls. I have some nice students and even though I am having to remain distant, I hope I can support them through one of the weirdest academic years of their lives.

That is it for now, I am excited to get to Surgery block. I really hope to Scrub In and give surgery another try before I completely rule it out. I wish all the luck to our 2019 cohort. I remember how terrified I was last year, make sure you give yourself at least Sunday off, and remember, You’ve got this !

September 10, 2020

Getting back to normal

I am writing this from my second home today, the medical school computer room! I am so grateful to be back in this room as I had just begun to fall out of love with my desk at home. It’s nice to be back in a room my brain is conditioned to work in.

It’s all slightly different though as there is now a one way system which I can guarantee will cause a few grumbles as we will now have to walk outside to get back to the lecture theatre from the CBL rooms, and there are a few more hand sanitizer stations around! We also have to book computers and half of the suite is now out of use to aid social distancing. I don’t know why they put a number on my spot. I’m here so much they might as well have called it Abbie’s spot! However, it does mean we are one step back to normal, whatever normal is now going to be.

I’ve also had my second Covid-19 scare of the year as I came down with all the symptoms bar the cough over 24 hours. I booked my swab on the day I was ill but it had all magically cleared up the day after, I still attended my swab appointment though and luckily I was negative. I do feel sorry for the amazing care workers and district nurses who have to have this swab done on the regular. It is no way comfortable and you end up with a weird sneezing and coughing combo driving out of the centre.

Talking of the C word. We are officially back in GP practice and the difference between hospital life and GP life is clear with regard to Covid-19. In hospital, patients get swabbed once every couple of days whereas in GP practices, you have no idea what is coming in through the door so safety measures are heightened. We had one patient attend for a face to face appointment and we were donned in our visors, masks, gloves and plastic aprons. It felt so weird and nothing like the afternoons I loved last block.

I really do miss patients in GP. Having our student appointments was what made GP days my favourite day of the week. I loved chatting with patients and seeing a couple of them progress every week. Now, we hear a voice at the end of a phone and that is it. You now don’t get the “lucky dip” of what comes in through the door which keeps you on your toes, as all the appointments have a reason as to why they have a call. I have managed to take one history from a telephone call which did test me as it was dermatology, not my forte. My clinical partner and I were happy to discover there was a café near our practice that was offering the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme which immensely cheered us up. There is also a Lidl which means Lidl pizzas for lunch!

September also means it’s the start of medical school for lots of people across the country. My best friend from undergrad starts at Swansea so I am immensely happy for her. It also means we have 200 fresh faces here at Warwick. I am looking forward to meeting them, though I do feel sorry for them as they won’t get the welcome experience we had. Hopefully, we can still keep some Warwick traditions alive such as Revue and medic family dinners. I found out I have two medic granddaughters and two medic grandsons from my medic kids this month. This makes me feel old as it wasn’t 5 minutes ago I was getting my medic parents. I just hope I am older than one of my grandkids as I didn’t seem to achieve that with my medic kids.

That’s it for now! See you guys in two weeks !

August 25, 2020

Hot Wards and Cold Equipment Rooms

SO we are well into the run of our 10 week block of medicine and as unpredictable as the British weather is, we have had a heatwave on the busiest week of my timetable. Whilst temperatures were hitting 30 degrees outside, we were trying to find the coolest part of the ward which was normally strategically standing near patient’s fans (of which there were three) or running to the equipment room undetected. The masks don’t help either as they just reflect warm ari back into your face but if they keep the patients safe, it’s a small price to pay. However, despite losing all my body water in the first 10 minutes, it proved to be a really productive day on the ward. We had a lovely consultant who was keen to teach us and told us more than once we really should be outside and enjoying the sun and not on the wards. What was an added bonus was that we got all our sign off’s done for the 10 weeks in one morning. Before running off as we were told, myself and my clinical partner stopped at GEH famous ice-cream bar. The ice-cream is incredible and after putting it on Instagram, I was met with lots of jealousy from medical students and doctors at other trusts! I am officially team general district hospital!

This week in all has been just incredible for our learning and progression. We have a lovely F1 and an incredible Physicians Associate who have just included us into the team from day one. On the Friday we had another incredible consultant who literally sent us off on our way to manage a patient by ourselves. I stood wide eyed like a deer caught in headlights but actually, this was the best thing for me as I finished with my lovely patient and actually, for the first time, I actually felt like I was going to be a doctor in 2 years (Covid-19 depending). It’s nice to be praised and have the support there and this week has just been a huge confidence booster, which was needed as my PassMed average is lower than I’d like it to be.

Getting used to an emptier timetable than last block has been a bit of a feat but, I actually like this way as I have a chance to breathe. I can do more of my theory work during the day and not at 10:30pm when I would rather be in bed. It also means I can do more extra-curricular things like inhaling half of the pool water at the gym as apparently my swimming technique is far from desirable. The perks of being in the same ward every week means we become far more integrated into our ward team and we go into the wards with some determination to get things done as we have less clinical exposure time. We have also been encouraged by the doctors to leave the ward and go home if we aren’t learning anything. I really enjoy going to placements now and developing professional relationships with the team and patients is just the icing on the cake.

We start GP next week and I am a little sad not to be going back to our original practise in Nuneaton as we loved being there and our supervising GP was amazing. It is also going to be dramatically different not actually seeing patients which I am sad about. It’s surprised me how much I love chatting with patients during their history and seeing them week after week, which I thought I would never say as someone who has difficulty with communication. I’m sad I wont be able to chat to people face to face and instead just listening to consultations over the phone before performing my own consultations. I know it’s important to learn phone skills as it is likely this is the new way of working for GPs and hospital clinics but it’s still sad knowing there wont be any patients.

So far, so good in the big picture though. I really love being back on placement and it beats sitting at my desk every day typing the same words for my SSC2 over and over again. We are still waiting for results but we are so busy with clinical learning that I forget it is even a thing most days!

That’s it for now! See you in September!

August 04, 2020

SSC2 Lockdown

HELLO I am back!

I apologize for the two months silence. My blogs were getting harder to write as I was mainly sitting at my desk completing my SSC2, so it would not have been hugely interesting for you guys but, I have officially clicked that submit button and the relief is immense!

As we couldn’t go into hospital, Warwick made us third years for 3 months and we completed our third-year research module a couple of months early and we will be completing our second-year placements later on in the year. Again, because we were not allowed in, we all had to do systematic reviews, the one thing I specifically did not want to do. However, after frantic searching of PubMed and Google scholar, I found a topic of Medical Education that had not been reviewed as far as I could see. I must be careful with what I say as our reviews are marked anonymously so I can’t give anything too specific away about my project as our marks haven’t come out yet.

It was… let’s say… trying. I came across so many hurdles including a panicked afternoon where I thought my project would have to be scrapped and re-started again, four weeks before the deadline. However, looking back, I am so proud of getting through it and now have another skill under my belt for my future career (all be it a rather shaky skill). I also developed a bit of a better idea about the world of research, something I ran away from in my undergraduate. I was offered a paid-for masters by my supervisor (I have no idea why, I was useless, all my cells kept dying!) and I shuddered as I had no idea about this world beyond undergraduate. However, through connecting with others on twitter and developing ideas, I am excited about including research into my career. Twitter has been my saviour throughout lockdown. I have developed connections across the UK and it has landed me some of my closest friends. I have a friend in Cardiff who I have never met but I consider like a sister! It’s also shown me the different ways I can incorporate research and how to develop my portfolio (just by spying on other people’s lives!).

This has meant I have begun to think about what I want to do post Warwick. I may be starting the final phase of the medical degree here seven months late but I am still in the mindset that I am nearly a third year. I’ve decided I want to do an AFP programme incorporating medical education however, I want to work at home in Kent. Unfortunately, Kent does not have a separate AFP programme and is incorporated into the South Thames programme which includes London. Kings College (where I want to apply) requires me to be minimum third decile of the cohort to even get short listed, so it’s clear I have a LOT of work to do.

However, I have keeping steady process with my extra-curriculars to be prepared for speciality applications. This year I helped with the GOSH Summer School running their social media account for the conference. I love the team I work for there and got to have a shout out at the end of the conference via zoom which felt amazing. I love GOSH and all the staff there are just amazing as well as welcoming to any medical student and they have added fuel to my fire to get into a paediatric speciality…. I’m just not sure which paediatric speciality yet! I have also been chosen to be on the JASME (Junior Association for the Study of Medicine) national committee as part of their media team which I am over the moon about. Their conference at Warwick got cancelled this year but I am excited to help run it in 2021!

Lockdown has been hard. I lived on my own for 10 weeks and I could go a week without directly talking to anyone and adding this to the sleep deprived state my brain was in due to night shifts and the stress of SSC2, I really did struggle. However, this was beneficial as I realized the importance of having a good social network around me. I ended up going home and continuing my project there. It was chaotic but was the best option for me. I had my dog around to distract me and the cats to walk across my keyboard. It also meant I got some free meals that I didn’t have to cook!

I feel like I have kind of cheated my medical degree. When we started back in 2018 I never thought we would have 21 weeks out of education and now, I am going back to a totally different degree. We are only in clinical two days a week which means we must make the most of every opportunity we can get, and clinics are mainly over the telephone which reduces the amount of patient exposure we get. GP placements will be the same with patients only coming in if absolutely needed. It does worry me that this reduced patient contact may impact my skills, however, this new way of doing things may be the new future for the NHS so it’s important we train to be adaptable to this. Covid-19 really has changed the UK beyond what my January self would believe.

Anyway, that is enough for now. I’ll see you again Mid-August!

June 02, 2020

Getting in a tangle

I’ve been trying to keep some sanity outside of Covid and try to keep my brain occupied, so, I’ve decided to learn some new skills and try to sharpen my existing ones.

Firstly, I’ve picked my books back up. I used to be an avid book worm, but I’ve lost it in the past couple of years. I have read an incredible book called The Rosie Project which just blew me away. I did not expect the protagonist to be on the autistic spectrum (made even funnier as everyone knows he is but him). I devoured the book over a week and I have bought the rest of the series. It’s given me a sense of closure as I can pretend it’s a follow on from the Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time, my favourite book. I have also used up my audible credits and listened to The Prison Doctor. I loved wandering around campus listening to this as it tells the tale of the type of Medicine very few of us will get to experience.

I have also taken my crocheting up a notch by trying to crochet bumblebees. If you know me, I am obsessed with these creatures and I am hoping to create a little bumblebee bunting for my friend who is having their baby this month! It’s going ok, I just seem to be creating bumblebee fish at the moment… I am also trying to create a blanket for my dog back home. He prefers blankets to beds, so I am trying to make him a thick, comfy, soft blanket for winter. Progress is slow. I have also started knitting but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get my work off my needles. So, for the past month, I’ve just had a square of material sitting on them. I’ll figure out soon!

A&E has been its usual self. I am getting slightly better at putting in my cannulas and can generally get a pink in most of the time. I had a brilliant nurse the other day who was showing me tips and tricks with cannulas, so I am hoping to get better and nail it for OSCEs next January.

The impact of Covid on our studies really has hit home. We had a whole year meeting the other day about coming back to training and placements. My third year placements will be one week shorter and won’t start till April, when we would normally start them in January. It’s scary to think we will have 8 weeks less to complete our learning than previous years, but I suppose in the end, it’s just a case of working slightly harder to get it all done. We don’t know if our finals will be affected yet and if the dates will change however, one thing is for certain(ish), our SJT will be in December 2021. Next year, I will be taking an exam that’s worth one half of my final mark... I was not ready for THAT hit of reality.

WMS have been brilliant throughout all this time and have been nothing but supportive. The Teams app has a virtual common room and a virtual café where we can chat. They have also been sending weekly updates including a spotlight on staff members. Shout out to Colin Macdougall for having the best taste in comedy (Foil, arms, and Hog) and for Emily Reid in making me feel bad that I have barely done any form of heart rate raising activity by doing every single episode of Joe Wicks PE class. I also like the fact we still have academic days as I get to talk to my year in my isolated bubble. It also gives me a chance to put my brain to use rather than writing notes from year group meetings.

We are meant to be returning to normality on the 27 July depending on how the country copes and how the third years get on as they go back one month before us. However, for now, I‘ll be working on my summer glow (hopefully without getting burnt) and trying to get my head around my SSC2 project!

'Til next time.

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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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