All 34 entries tagged Abbie

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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.


May 15, 2020

What day of the week is it again?

Week 8 of lockdown, aren’t we? To be honest, everything feels so much of a blur and all the weeks have moulded into one. It does however feel like an age since I was last wearing my stethoscope on the wards trying to appear like I knew what I was doing. Covid 19 has truly changed our lives and we as medical students are no different. As you have probably seen from Jordan’s updates, we have been given the option to work in local trusts and I have been allocated George Eliot's (Geliot) A&E department. I was amazed when I got offered it and I really have enjoyed it. I even have done my very first night shifts which are strange. Trying to stay up the night before is hard and I don’t think I would have gotten through the first one if it wasn’t for my good friend, Red Bull (other brands are available).

I have been lucky as it’s given me the opportunity to practise my clinical skills and I have mastered the art of small talk whilst doing cannulas. I have grown so much in confidence with these, just need to work on putting in the next gage (bigger diameter cannula) up as I seem to struggle with my pinks. One of the best parts has been having a good old chat with the patients. I had a lovely human the other night and we spend an hour chatting about the original VE day, being evacuated, the bombing of Coventry Cathedral (one of my favourite facts about WW2 purely because it was in a Sherlock episode) and the rest of their life. We found out we have families in similar parts of the UK and we chatted about Megan and Harry and baby Archie. It has been nice to get to do this as the department has been…let’s say…. Less populated than usual. We normally get to 3am and one have one patient in majors, so we sit and chat as a team. I even got my ECG done the other day!

The PPE was a novelty at first, but I wish I could get away with not having it on. The mask dries my mouth out quickly and constantly breathing in your own C02 makes a 12 hour shift that much harder. We haven’t had a problem with PPE at Geliot apart from the nice elastic masks running out meaning everyone has to wear the tie-on masks which we all hate. One positive spin is that the team cannot see how much I yawn at 3am! It’s one of the only times I have liked being someone who smiles till their eyes disappear.

I got to experience being in full PPE the other day as we had a peri-arrest Covid positive patient come in. I was only in it for 2 hours, but I was boiling and thirsty. The ICU team are heroes! The patient was fine, and I put in their cannula and took their bloods and before long, they were sent to the wards. I have also seen someone extremely sick from Covid. They unfortunately passed away in the department and I felt heartbroken for the family who couldn’t see their relative in their final moments. It was also the first patient I have seen pass away and it's a moment that will forever stick with me. Night shifts bring everything to the table.

Outside of ward work, we have been given our SSC2 projects to do. We are all currently doing a systematic review. I found a topic similar to that of my original project but I am finding the software…..tricky. Let’s say I have come close to sending my computer on a horizontal trajectory through the window and onto the ground outside. However, it’s no different to the problems I faced in my undergrad dissertation except this time, it’s computer software and not human brain cells letting me down.

We are due back to placement at the end of June pending on how the third years get on. The crisis will impact my degree even beyond this year as we found out our third-year placements will be one week shorter and, depending on any future lockdowns, my second-year placements could also be made shorter. It’s scary to think, but this will affect the future training of doctors. Interestingly, I prefer doing the 12 hour shifts as opposed to turning up onto a ward hoping for something to do. I have learnt a lot more, even my ECGs are coming along! I think we would benefit training like student nurses and having shifts instead of popping in. That is just me though, I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment!

'Til next time!


April 14, 2020

Abbie down the Rabbit Hole

It feels like I’ve stepped into a weird alternate dimension of planet earth. Queues to get into Tesco, petrol nearly down to the pound and campus the quietest I have ever seen it. It’s like a ghost town here!

We’ve been off placement for four weeks now and I have lost all definition of time. It’s even harder as I live on my own, so the social distancing basically means social isolation for me. It’s been hard, getting up with not much to do and losing any sort of normality. However, I know it’s a very small on the bigger scale of things.

We’ve also had changes to the order of our degree. We normally do our SSC2 project after second year exams in third year. I had self-proposed my own SSC2 project and I was really excited to get on with it. However, due to Covid-19, that was all about to change. Instead of CCE2/3 which we would have normally been doing up until the end of July, we have essentially swapped them for the SSC2 project, and our exams will be pushed back. That was ok until I read the second part of the swap. We would all now be doing a systematic review. I was gutted. I thought my project would be ok as I didn’t need to use any patient data or go anywhere near a hospital. However, due to many of the staff going back into their NHS roles, ethical clearance wouldn’t have been able to take place. Again, not the biggest injustice in this crisis but I was gutted and the thought of doing a systematic review instead of my own project was underwhelming. However, I am still hoping to keep a similar topic to the one I originally planned so hopefully, not all is lost.

We have also been offered the opportunity to take up roles in the NHS like our fourth year counterparts. We are going in as a morph of HCA/medical student. Essentially, an extra pair of hands to help in this unprecedented time. I am working in the A&E department of George Elliot Hospital which I am looking forward to as it will enable me to spend time in a department that I have only been a patient in before. I had a bit of an introduction shift last week which felt odd as there were only four patients there the entire time I was on shift. However, it gave us time to get used to the place and even get some ECG teaching. Something I really did need; cardiology is not my strong point. I’m looking forward to being able to put my skill set to use and helping where I can. I know I can’t do a huge amount but every little helps right? I am grateful for the opportunity as I know not all medical schools have done this, so we are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and I do hope other medical schools follow suit!

I don’t know when the lockdown is going to end. Everyone seems to have their own theory and I am just trying to avoid spending too much time on social media. I am hoping I can keep myself busy with SSC2 and shifts in A&E to try and stop myself becoming homesick during this time. I have an Easter egg from home waiting in my fridge for Sunday, I wish I could pop home for Easter roast but I’ll just have to wait until we are released back into the world. For now, I am waiting for the goslings and ducklings to make their appearance down at Tocil lake and making good friends with the local wildlife.

'Til next time!


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!


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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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