Venue: University of Leeds
This taster day consisted of four workshops: Basic Life Support, Measuring Blood Pressure, Ethical Situations and Patient Consultations alongside a lecture at the end. I really enjoyed the sessions, but the most important factor of the day was me being able to see my own personal progress. I have been attending medical related sessions ever since I first started considering it as a career prospect when I was Year 10 and 11. I do find these events very helpful as they do allow a true insight into life as a medical student as well as life as a doctor. When I first attended these events I remember being a little bewildered and overwhelmed by the medical terminology and principles we were expected to be familiar with as prospective medical students. I have to admit, I did feel I little bit of despair and I wondered how I would possibly learn these things that I heard other students talking about before actually being taught.
However, ever since the first courses and conferences I attended, my interest in Medicine has grown. It’s something which I’ve naturally felt inclined to read up on due to my ever growing interest. This has definitely made me more aware of the medical world, ethical principles, medical guidelines, in such a way that I did not know that I had made this progress until the event today. Over the past year or so, I’ve found myself to be more drawn towards the Science of the human body, I scour news articles, read books authored by doctors and scroll through a predominately health dominated Twitter feed on a regular basis. Every so often, I even find myself debating on whether it is the doctor or the parents who have a greater impact on a child’s medical care; or on my view on the opt-out organ donation system with my friends on the bus. In today’s sessions, I was amazed with myself as these simple actions seemed to have given me the knowledge and ability to truly consider things from a medical perspective. This allowed me to actively participate and engage in the discussions to a much greater extent.
In the ethical session we were asked to rank a list of ten patients with different life circumstances and problems which has caused them to require a liver transplant according to who we would be most prepared to give it to and then justifying our reasons. This session was my absolute favourite…the complexity and controversy of medical ethics is something which has never failed to intrigue me. I loved being able to listen to different people’s views as well as voice my own. I was able to appreciate the vital medical principle of respecting a patient’s autonomy, even though it may not appear to be in their best interests. However, the patient making this decision must have the capacity to make such a decision. People who may lack this capacity could be very young children, the elderly who may suffer from diseases such as dementia and people who have a mental illness which prevents them from making rational decisions. Despite these presumptions on capacity being made, it is very important that that we always assume a patient has capacity unless proven otherwise.
One of the patient examples was a GP who had suffered an accident and required a liver transplant. I was able to share my opinion in that I thought the GP shouldn’t necessarily be prioritised over other people who needed the transplant after non-self-induced related problems simply because she was working within the medical profession. Everybody should be given a fair and equal access to medical treatment irregardless of monetary circumstances or social status under the principle of Justice in Medical Ethics. It was interesting to pick apart the scenarios and also consider which other pieces of information we would require to help us reach a well informed decision. There was a lot of controversy within the group on where we should place each individual, but what was even more surprising was comparing the order of priority across the groups. Some of the differences were very significant with my group placing a patient near the bottom and another group placing them as their first priority. This exercise was really useful in allowing me to truly appreciate the wide range of differing opinions within the field of Medical Ethics.
In the communication session, I was given the opportunity to chat to two patients. It was really interesting to hear their opinions of what they felt made a good doctor and what didn’t. One of the main expectations that they voiced that they wanted from a doctor was them giving their patient their full attention. It was really enlightening to hear their perspective and appreciation that doctors are busy and really rushed for time; but they as patients definitely have the right to a doctor’s full undisturbed attention. They should also be given the time they are entitled to in a consultation and made to feel comfortable with whatever is being said to them. It was really sad to hear one of this particular patient’s experiences in which a doctor was extremely pushed for time and had told him that he had ‘malignant melanoma’ and then concluded the consultation. Upon leaving the consultation, the patient described his feelings to me as he realised that he had no idea what he had just been told in the consultation. It was only later when he revived a follow up call from the Oncology department that he realised that he had been diagnosed with Cancer. This was a really unfortunate story, but after speaking to him I’ve realised that the approach the Oncology doctor took in which she explained the diagnosis, went through a next step plan and assured that the patient understood and agreed with everything along the way had such a significant impact on his experience.