All 224 entries tagged Warwick
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July 07, 2020
Working for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a rewarding experience, not only for my education and life experience but also financially. Before I started medical school, I worked full-time for two years, so returning to life as a student was certainly an adjustment! Having the opportunity to earn a bit of money has been really helpful as the nature of our course means that it is difficult to earn money, so my overdraft has definitely thanked me in recent months!
I finished working at the beginning of June, to give me time to get some academic work done before resuming placement. Over the last 2 weeks, I have been using some of the amazing online resources available to us. Many resources are now free to medical students due to COVID-19, and one that I have found really useful is the K2 Obstetrics and Gynaecology website. We currently have access to all of these resources, and the K2 packages are very good, interactive introductory courses on Obstetrics. I am a very visual learner and love pictures and videos to help me to remember things, making the online resources a really useful way of reintroducing myself to the world of medicine.
I have also been using Warwick Medical School’s own online resources. All of the lectures delivered at the medical school are automatically recorded and uploaded for us to re-watch whenever we want to. As my next block is Musculoskeletal, I have been revisiting some of the anatomy lectures delivered in our first year. I thought I had forgotten all of my anatomy knowledge, but actually once I start watching the lectures, all of that information comes rushing back. It really does demonstrate that actually whilst there is a lot of content to learn at medical school, actually a lot of the information is revisited in every phase of the course, with actually little new information being added. Thus, by the time of final year, there is less new information and lots of revision. Let’s hope I feel that way when I go back to placement on Monday!
The last two weeks have brought a partial reversion to normality. Last Saturday was my final shift on the Gerontology ward at University Hospital and the end of my COVID-19 work placement. Reflecting on my time, it has certainly been a worthwhile and enlightening experience. Whilst it has been a struggle (and a worry) to step away from the usual studies and placements of a medical student, the COVID pandemic has still provided key learning opportunities that I will carry forward as I pursue my medical career. My fellow students and I have taken on roles with more direct patient care – such as bathing, feeding and helping to mobilise patients. These are jobs that we have not really trained for, so it has been a steep learning curve at times! We have also been doing some observations, which are normally done by the nursing staff. I feel as though while I haven’t done much medicine for the last 3 months, I have learned a new and complimentary set of skills. Interacting with confused patients is something I was very anxious about before my time on the Gerontology ward. Now, I feel as though I can look after these patients much better. I hope that when (if) I pass my final exams and graduate, that the acclimatisation to clinical practice will be that small part easier because of the work I have put in now.
I’ve now left my job and it was really sad to say goodbye! I have really gotten on well with the nurses and other staff members I have worked with and they’ve said that I’ll be missed. I feel as though the one big change in me over the course of the COVID situation is my confidence. Everyone has wobbles and doubts from time to time, but I think that maybe I’m more prone to these than most. There probably hasn’t been a day since I started the course that I haven’t secretly wondered if I’m good enough to complete the course and graduate and be able to be a doctor. I think from the positive feedback I have received while working from my colleagues, I may finally feel slightly more confident (get it!) at putting those doubts to rest. I think the lightbulb moment came during my last week at work. It so happened that two patients needed cannulas putting in and someone needed to do it. Despite my nerves, I managed to do both. I think the nurse could tell I was terrified – they cheered when I did it successfully and gave me some sage advice from their experience. They said to me – it doesn’t matter how scared you are – say yes to every opportunity to do a skill or put a cannula in or examine a patient as this is how you build your confidence. I think I was quite good before at getting stuck in, but now I will approach these clinical opportunities with less fear, and less self-doubt.
Since finishing work, I have really gotten stuck back in to my medical studies. I start my Musculoskeletal block at the end of June and I am determined to do everything I can to be prepared and do well during the block. I’ve decided to revisit my anatomy teaching from first year to prepare – I definitely need a refresher! Anatomy teaching at Warwick is superb, and I have been watching the lectures again, and am slightly reassured that they make a lot more sense in hindsight, and that a lot of the detail has come rushing back. What I once knew, but had forgotten, has been (at least partially) remembered. Clinical practice really is so dependent on that basic anatomy and physiology knowledge that you learn in First year of the course. Going back to basics provides a strong foundation on which I can hopefully build during my musculoskeletal block which begins soon.
June 02, 2020
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.
June 01, 2020
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 20, 2020
I have been continuing my employment as a Medical Student Clinical Assistant at University Hospital Coventry. I feel as though I have really settled into my job role and learned how to do it proficiently. Things which at the start were a total mystery to me are now not so mysterious, nor nearly as scary. Specifically, aspects such as filling in fluid balance charts, attending to the personal hygiene of the patients and dealing with confused patients. These are things which we are taught the theory of at medical school, but never get the chance to practice in reality as these jobs are often done by the nursing and healthcare assistant staff. I’ve definitely exercised a completely different skillset to that which I was using as a student!
I had a lovely chat with one of the experienced staff nurses this week about how valuable this experience will be when I go back to placement and eventually (hopefully) start work as a junior doctor. Whilst medical school prepares us well in terms of our understanding of conditions and their management there are some things that I have only experience during my time working on the wards. For example, whilst we are taught in detail about the science of fluid metabolism I had never encountered a fluid balance chart before but now realise how crucial being able to both fill in and interpret one will be when I am a junior doctor. It goes to show there is only so much lectures and workshops can teach you and that there are many lessons to be learned by being immersed in the clinical setting!
I’m hoping some of my present experiences will make the transition to a junior doctor easier when that does happen, but presently I do feel as though gaps remain.
Another thing that I have enjoyed during my time working is how I feel like part of the team. I am, indeed, expected to contribute to the work of the HCAs and nurses and I feel as though I have approached the work with gusto. I have done lots of observations, some ECGs and even some bloods. I know that medical students who are working are all having different experiences and I am sad that I haven’t had a chance to do some more bloods, cannulas etc, which would provide good experience for me at this stage. I know other students working on other wards have had the chance to do these, but there isn’t much demand for these skills on my ward.
That brings me to an update about when placement will resume. We have been told that placements may resume either in July or September, depending on the NHS situation. We would still need to do all of the placements that we would have done anyway, but of course we have now missed at least 4 months of placement. I think the discussions at the moment are of moving our final exams to later in the year, not having an elective period and reducing our summer holiday before starting work. At the moment there are lots of “maybes” and it really depends on the course of the coronavirus. I hope that we do get back to placement soon, as I really miss Medicine. So stay inside, for my sake!