All 37 entries tagged Wards

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December 17, 2020

One exam…

The last two weeks have been…very busy! I have been continuing my Care of the Medical Patient (CMP) block, which covers most of general and internal medicine. Because it covers so much of medicine, it has been very busy because there is simply a lot of content to cover. However, I do think that this block has been one of the best learning experiences. One of the most useful things that I have been able to do this block is attend bedside teaching sessions. One of the original proponents of bedside teaching was the great physician William Osler (after whom several clinical signs are named), who believed that medics learned best at the bedside, by doing. This seems odd to us today, where we would expect trainee doctors to come into contact with patients but 100 years ago this wasn’t necessarily the case. Derived from the practices of William Osler, our bedside teaching in my CMP block is where two medical students are joined by a doctor and they go and see a patient. One medical students usually take a history (i.e. ask the patient what brought them into hospital) and the other student often does a physical examination of the patient. The doctor observes and teaches and gives us students feedback on our history and examination skills. Because of COVID, we have had less opportunities than normal to be able to see patients, so getting this practice under supervision has been really useful. Having an experienced doctor observing and providing feedback allows us to identify our strengths and also areas where we may improve.

Last week I also had an exciting opportunity to attend a Diabetes outpatient clinic with one of the Professors from the Medical School. We have known this professor since first year so it was interesting to observe them doing consultations and experiencing their reputation for amazing teaching first-hand. Diabetes is a really common condition and often comes up in medical final exams – so much so that if I was a betting man, I would say it will definitely come up somewhere. It was really good preparation to go over the basic management of Diabetes.

And here we are, Merry Christmas! Or…not quite! We break up next week, but first there is one last hurdle before that long-awaited break. The Situational Judgment Test (SJT) is an exam that has featured in my blog previously, and I think that pays tribute to just how important it is. The SJT is an exam which is based around what you would do in certain ethical and workplace dilemmas. My result in the SJT will be an important factor in what doctor jobs I will get when I graduate, and even decides the area you are placed. Thus, the result is really important, and it is a very high stakes exam – if you get below a certain mark, you are removed from the job application process and may not get offered a job as a doctor. I’m told this is very unusual, but that doesn’t stop the worry that I could be one of the only ones…So over the last few weeks I have been doing practice questions and reading ethical guidance to hopefully get me over that line, get a good result and hopefully get the chance to be a doctor next year. I can’t wait for Christmas to just relax after a stressful year, and I’m sure many of you reading this will feel the same. Wish me luck in my SJT exam and I hope you all have a great Christmas!


Care of the Medical Patient

My current placement is Care of the Medical Patient, which is an overarching block which touches on many different areas. Medical patients include cardiology patients, respiratory patients, gastroenterology patients and many others. One area which comes under the umbrella is neurology and stroke care and for this block I have been attached to a stroke ward at George Eliot Hospital. Initially, I was apprehensive about being on a stroke ward because of how poorly stroke patients can be. In addition to this, I would say that personally neurology and stroke is one of my weakest areas academically. I think the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord is so complicated, I struggle to get my head around it. I suppose it’s good that I will get some practice in this area and hopefully become more comfortable with this area. Last week we attended a ward round on the stroke ward with one of the stroke consultants during which the consultant did some teaching about the management of various types of stroke. It was a really useful experience and we even got the chance to do some examinations as part of the round which was a good recap of the neurological examination (one of the hardest ones!)

Then, last Friday I attended an outpatient clinic looking after Parkinson’s Disease patients. Parkinson’s is a disease where one of the chemicals in our brain (dopamine) becomes depleted and this leads to issues with movement, including tremor amongst other issues. Having never seen a patient with Parkinson’s disease before I hadn’t appreciated the fact that there are many different types of the disease and that the course of the disease is so individual. Some patients progress quickly and some people remain stable and do not get any worse for years and decades. I also hadn’t realised how multi-disciplinary the management is. For example, Parkinson’s patients often have help not only from doctors, but specialist nurses, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and dieticians.

This week I had been booked on to attend an ILS course (Immediate Life Support). All medical students have to have this course to be able to graduate as doctors and it teaches resuscitation in a hospital setting – including skills such as managing an airway, doing CPR and using a defibrillator. I really enjoyed the course and it sort of drew together and consolidated several sessions we have had before. None of the information or skills were new to us, but the application and practice using simulated sessions really refreshed that knowledge and I’m sure will be really useful revision for finals.

The week ended with Friday afternoon which was small group teaching on ECGs and heart problems. Being able to interpret ECGs (electric scans of the heart) is one of the most difficult skills expected of junior doctors, so having some recap and revision of some of the most common rhythms was useful. I haven’t seen an ECG in a long time as I have been doing Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Orthopaedics, so I had completely forgotten everything! Luckily, I quickly clicked back in with looking at ECGs and feel much more confident having a go now! Next week will be a busy one, with a few teaching sessions and hopefully some clinical skills practice. It should be a good one!


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!


June 01, 2020

Viva la Peer Support

For the last two weeks, I’ve been continuing with my work on the Gerontology ward at University Hospital Coventry. Gerontology is care of the elderly and the ward deals with general medical problems in this patient population. Many of the patients have a condition called delirium which means they are acutely confused (i.e. the confusion is new and has a rapid onset). Delirium can be caused by infections or even just by being admitted to hospital, but it is often reversible and the confusion gets better when the patient's medical condition improves. In addition to this confusion, many of the patients have existing dementia, where their confusion and cognitive abilities are impaired due to this long-term condition. This has made it very challenging at times when trying to encourage these patients to eat and whilst tending to their personal needs as they are often confused when and do not understand what you are doing or why.

I’ve worked on the ward for two months now and I think while I haven’t done much actual medicine in this time, I have developed what people call the “soft” skills which I think make the difference between a good doctor and a great doctor. It is not just about being able to recognise a cancer, for example, but being able to communicate with the patient about what their wishes and needs are. Communication is the most important skill a doctor has to have and is the cornerstone of what doctors call the ‘therapeutic relationship’ – a partnership between doctor and patient. When trying to communicate with confused patients, it is crucial to speak very clearly (which can be difficult wearing a mask), and I definitely think my own communication style has changed. Since I was a child, I have always spoken very quickly in general, to the extent that I used to get told off as a child because no-one could understand me! I also had a stutter for certain periods of my childhood, and I think working with these patients where communication is absolutely fundamental has led to lasting changes in the way I verbally communicate. I would say the speed of my speech when talking to patients has slowed down and I use clearer phraseology. I also have learned that if someone doesn’t understand, that is it essential to check if they usually wear a hearing aid and, indeed, if it is turned on!

I have really started to miss studying. It sounds strange when most people hate studying, but I find learning and working towards the goal of finally qualifying one of the most satisfying things in my life. There is a strange sense of dislocation when a goal you have worked towards for 3+ years suddenly seems further away and the goalposts shifted. I think the sense of dislocation comes from the questions and uncertainty due to COVID. Will we restart placement in July as the Medical School has planned? When will our final exams be? Will we have an elective period? Will we be as well equipped to pass finals as the students who have gone before us with potentially less time on placement? Healthcare students around the world face the same dilemmas and uncertainties and I hope things go back to normal soon for all of our sakes.

One flash of light in all of this uncertainty has been a revival of peer support. Warwick is known for being very strong when it comes to peer support, which is when the years above run sessions and teach to help the younger years. Our fantastic finalists have been true to that tradition and have been running online sessions to help us with some of the questions we have. They have done sessions on our final exams and what helped them, as well as practical tips for getting through this period. I think having this support run online at this time has certainly given me hope that we will come through this and be able to rise to the challenge of finishing the course successfully. It’s comforting to have support from those who have been through it and come out the other side.


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!


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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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