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October 19, 2020

Child Health

The last two weeks saw the end of my Obstetrics block and the beginning of the Child Health block.

My last week of Obstetrics was a busy one for many reasons – the main reason is that I have been running around trying to get my end of block sign offs from my consultant. Part of this is a mock assessment called an OSLER, which is, in short, an observed patient encounter. During the assessment you see a patient, take a history from them and perform an examination of them. Following this you have a discussion with the supervising consultant about the condition the patient may have and what you would do to manage their care. The patient I examined and took a history from was lovely which makes the whole process a lot less daunting. I always really appreciate the patients who allow us to examine and interact with them as being in hospital is stressful enough without having an eager student assessing you! Without the help of the patients we see our education would not be a true reflection of the career that lies ahead of us.

I have really enjoyed this block overall. Whilst it can certainly be a little bit more exhausting with the long labour shifts and sometimes emotionally charged situations, I have appreciated being able to get stuck in. I love interacting with patients and helping guide women through labour is so rewarding (and the cuddly with the new-borns are so cute!) the experience is something I know I will never forget.

The first week of my latest block, Child Health, has been steady for me, which is something I feel I have needed. I have certainly been feeling a little burnt-out the last week so have taken things a little steadier intentionally just to give myself a little breather. I’m looking forward to the week ahead and experiencing a side of medicine I have yet to go in-depth on since my enjoyable year working at Birmingham Children’s Hospital prior to coming to medical school.

This weekend I have had the privilege of attending GERMCON – which is the Graduate-Entry Medicine Research conference. By attend, I actually mean turned on my computer and listened as this year the conference was completely online due to COVID-19. It has been a strange experience attending an online conference but still interesting and still had some very inspiring talks, including from Professor Vinod Patel, who gave the keynote address on the last day of the conference. Professor Patel is Warwick’s Academic Lead for Clinical Skills and oversees our clinical skills education in first year and clinical exams later on in the course. Research is such a huge part of life in medicine, and it was great to see the diversity of projects and approaches to research that were highlighted in the conference.


October 07, 2020

The power of positivity

This week I had three shifts on labour ward at Warwick Hospital. Each one started at 7:30am sharp with the midwife handover, and then I was assigned a midwife to help/shadow for the day. On my first shift I stayed with the same patient all day and things ended with a birth which was amazing to see. It does sound cheesy, but welcoming new life into the world is one of the highest privileges there is. And the babies are very cute!

On Saturday I received some great news – one of the block coordinators forwarded me some feedback sent into the ward by one of the families that I had worked with this week which mentioned me by name! Studying medicine is sometimes a process of continual confidence building, followed by realising how little you do know. A lot of the feedback we receive is about how to improve, which does sometimes feel like negative feedback as it concentrates naturally on what you didn’t do but should have done. This is of course all in the interest of patient safety – one must continually improve to ensure one reaches the competence expected of a doctor. It honestly makes such a difference to receive some positive feedback and after a long and tiring week makes it all feel worth it.

The positive impact this had on me reminds me of something I think I’ve spoken about before in this blog – Learning from Excellence (LFE). LFE is an initiative which was started by one of the consultants I worked with before medicine but is an idea which is gaining considerable traction. LFE focuses on inverting the traditional “Incident reporting” which operates in hospitals – i.e. where an incident occurs, and it is reported so that measures can be taken to prevent it happening again. LFE instead focuses on reporting excellent practice so that we can make sure it does happen again. Of course, both of these approaches have their place and really work in tandem – but LFE focuses on raising morale and also ensuring excellent care. Positive feedback about what went well is just as important as what didn’t go well.

Something else I think is very important is showing kindness and humanity to others in healthcare. When stressed it is so easy to get offended or start on a poor tone, but kindness and positivity has such an important impact. I believe it is key to try our best to be kind to everyone we meet – staff members and patients alike. One of the consultants at University Hospital Coventry actually gave an excellent TED talk which I would recommend – “When rudeness in teams turns deadly”, which talks about the direct consequences of being rude, or of being unkind and inversely the importance of being civil and being kind.

The lesson to take away is that kindness costs nothing apart from your time, and whether it takes the form of positive feedback or just being nice to someone - it can make all the difference. It could make someone’s week – it made mine this week!


September 18, 2020

Babies and bellies

I have now started my Obstetrics and Gynaecology block, for which I am based at Warwick Hospital. Warwick Hospital is one of the smaller hospitals for our medical school but one of the best in terms of the experience that you get. I have only been at Warwick before for a day here or there and never for a long time, so I was excited to start a 5-week block based at Warwick. Obstetrics and Gynaecology covers pregnancy, childbirth and women’s health, and for the block we have two midwives supervising, teaching and organising us. For our first week we had mostly lectures covering some of the basics of this speciality, some of which is revision and some of which was new information. The lecturer midwives who were teaching us did a fantastic job of breaking these topics down and giving just the right amount of information to make it digestible. We also had sessions on obstetric palpation (feeling babies in pregnant tummies), which I have always found tricky. The only way of describing what it is like is having an action man in a inflated balloon and then trying to feel what clothes action man is wearing. It can be tricky so I’m glad we got some more supervised practice!

This week we also had Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) day, which is a whole day in this block which covers sexual health and medicine. We don’t get much exposure to this speciality as a medical student, but I actually find it really interesting and varied. The day involved some lectures on HIV and different sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as some interactive sessions. This included practice conducting intimate examinations of male and female genitals, and then we also had some practice taking sexual histories. As I said, we don’t get much exposure so having some interactive practice makes tackling these sometimes-difficult areas a bit easier.

Today we had some bedside teaching. At Warwick Hospital we are very lucky to have booked sessions with doctors and midwives where they take us onto the wards, we find a patient and then see the patient under supervision to practice our history taking and examination practice. In the morning we were doing Gynaecological histories with one of the education doctors and in the afternoon, we were taking pregnancy histories and feeling tummies under the supervision of the midwives. Overall, the day was tiring but also really useful and we managed to get some hands-on practice, which is definitely needed at this stage!

I started my Obstetrics and Gynaecology block feeling as though it wasn’t really for me. I’m not really sure why – I think I find it difficult and so don’t enjoy it for that reason. However, after 2 weeks I feel as though it has been demystified a little bit and I definitely feel more comfortable already, with still 3 weeks to go. Im excited to see what the rest of the block brings!


September 15, 2020

I’m tired!

The last two weeks have been….BUSY! My General Practice block has been coming to an end. Like with all my placements, I have had to get sign offs from the doctors to say that I have performed to a good standard, engaged with everything and completed all the necessary tasks on placement! One of the GPs that we have been with quite a lot filled in our “End of Block form”, which they sign giving feedback on areas such as attendance and engagement etc. We received some nice feedback from that GP who said it was a pleasure to teach us, which is always nice to hear! My general ethos in life is to always put your best foot forward and go in full steam – always work to your best ability. If you don’t do as well as you could or you could improve, that’s okay! I do think this makes the job of teaching easier and shows respect to those teaching you – the most frustrating thing in trying to teach is when you ask for volunteers and no-one says anything!

Thursday last week I also did some teaching! Warwick has a very strong tradition of students teaching students, and I have gotten involved with this throughout my time here – I taught seminars to first years and also taught life support last year. I really believe that one of the best ways of learning is to teach. The first years have had their exams delayed this year due to COVID – usually they are in June, but they have been pushed back a few months, so these are coming up soon. I picked the chance to teach shoulder anatomy to the first years, mostly because I have recently had my musculoskeletal block and so the knowledge is fresh and also because shoulders are cool! Unfortunately, the session was online this year rather than in person which does limit things somewhat. Usually in my seminar sessions I like to have activities and demonstrations to show concepts but being online makes this harder. Despite this (and also some technical issues) I did manage to teach I think some useful hints and concepts to the first years and enjoyed myself while doing it. Hopefully they found it useful!

On Thursday I also had my end of block assessment for GP block which took the form of history taking with an actor and discussing management with one of the doctors who was marking me as if this was my final exam. I got some nice feedback in terms of my communication and actually really enjoyed the assessment. I know that’s probably quite weird! It was actually quite fun to have a practice and also super useful as it reminded me of lots of things that I need to go over (ahem…ECGs..).

This week I have also been trying to exercise more and improve my wellbeing as I’ve been quite worn out. GP block has been really fun but also very tiring as its very busy. I’ve (re)joined the gym and am going to try and go a couple of times a week to try and destress. I think my next block is less busy timetable-wise so I can have a bit of a rest. So that’s the end of GP block. My next block is Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in which hopefully I get to see some cute babies! See you in my next blog!


August 28, 2020

Where to?

Another two more weeks of our GP block have passed by. Our block is 5 weeks long and each week we have some days at our GP practice and some days of online tutorials. Every Thursday we have online tutorials by the medical school tutors which focus on communication skills and also common conditions seen in GP. The communication skills sessions involve what are called “simulated” patients, who are actors hired by the medical school to pretend to be a patient. You treat them like any other patient and talk to them about their medical problems and other things. The communication part of this comes in in that with these patients the task we have to do with these patients is to break bad news to them - so tell them a test result came back abnormal or the cancer has returned. Then they are trained to react in a certain way – so they may get upset or angry – and you have to respond and deal with their issues. This can be really challenging and sometimes emotionally difficult, but it is much better to practice these conversations in a safe simulated environment before we ever have to do it for real.

We’ve been really lucky with our GP surgery as they are very keen to teach and get us doing consultations on our own. We speak to a patient and decide what to do, only running our findings and plan past the GP to check it is correct and that they are happy. The GP is always there for support, but it is really satisfying to be able to tell the patient what is wrong and what you think should be done, and for the GP to totally agree. More than any other block, I feel like a doctor now – GP is very busy and almost feels like working full time, with patients specifically booking in to see the medical student. That responsibility of “this is your patient to look after” is new, terrifying, and affirming. This, after all, is why I started this journey 3+ years ago. It feels so rewarding to be able to reassure the patient and offer them a solution or plan to deal with their issues.

This coming Friday we have an online academic day about applying for the UK Foundation Programme. Basically, medical school isn’t the end of training for doctors. Exactly the opposite - graduating from medical school is just the beginning. New doctors apply to and work for two years as part of the Foundation Programme. These are special posts which are designed for a new doctor and the aim is to develop all of the skills learned at medical school and become a confident, capable doctor. As I am in my final year for med school, I have increasingly found myself thinking about the next steps and thinking about some of the decisions I will need to make when applying. The main decision is which foundation school to apply for. The foundation schools cover geographical areas and often cover several hospitals. I was born in the Midlands, I did my Undergraduate degree at Birmingham, worked in the city for 2 years before medical school and of course Warwick Medical School is in the Midlands. Part of me wants to try somewhere else now – but I have ties to the Midlands which mean that I can’t really move away, so I will probably stay around here for foundation. This also has the advantage of not having to get used to a new city while also getting used to being a new doctor at the same time. Some areas are more competitive to get into than others – for example London is super competitive to get a place at, but the Midlands aren’t too bad so hopefully I have a shot!



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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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