I’ve disappeared with not so much of a puff because third year has been a whirlwind so far. So much, so different, exhausting, yet exhilarating. We’ve had 3 weeks of third year now, the first week was induction so that makes 2 weeks of placement and here’s what I have to say…
It is exhausting, I’m not going to deny that. I can’t quite describe the exhaustion either, perhaps the only way to define the crux of it is by using the phrase I’ve heard older students use “physically and mentally draining at the same time.” I can’t say it’s not draining…but I can say it’s honestly so amazing. We have open access to the wards so I like darting around: take a Cardiology history, go to the Respiratory ward and do and examination there, then head to the Renal ward. I think I’ve been on the wards pretty much every single day since my first day of placement and it definitely is daunting at first (even still a little now).
As soon as you are pushed out there into the open ocean and have to go out there and talk to real patients the realisation kind of hits you that this. is. real. It’s not like the simulated consulatation skills sessions you have back in the protected environment of the university, no. Here patients will say “no, I don’t want to talk to you”, and of course they have every right to do so. Patients no longer follow that same script that we’d kind of got used to with the simulated patients over the first phase, but each patient is different and you really have to adjust yourself to each one. One history goes well, but the next one is a shambles, but there’s no “pause button” for it anymore and you just have to work with it.
The hospital is a super busy environment. We need to get a list of things signed off every week and I’m not going to lie, it is daunting to have to go and pull busy doctors and nurses from their work and pester them to observe you do this, or sign you off for this and that.
All that being said, it’s the first time you actually get an insight into real medicine. Nothing I’ve done in the past, no placement during pre-clinical years, no shadowing prior to that compares. There’s really so much you can learn from just one patient and it’s so fascinating to go and ask those questions and dig out what there is to know yourself. You real feel that empathy for patients, and there’s those absolutely lovely patients who are so willing to help you and really want to talk to you and tell you everything that make your day. There’s that feeling of wanting to go back and find that same patient the next day to see how they’re getting on, because you haven’t been able to stop thinking about them the whole day.
It’s incredible to be surrounded by so many amazing specialists. Watching them hear one thing and instantly being able to diagnose a condition. The clues to the mystery all come together. I love the problem solving aspect of acute hospital care – it’s as dynamic and exhilarating as I expected it to be! You should see me at the end of the day, buzzing with all the things I’ve managed to get up to!
We have ward rounds and clinics. Just this week I had a diabetic foot clinic and I was able to go and be the first person to talk to the patients and present what I’d found out to the doctor which was incredible. I’ve learnt how to take blood, put in a cannula, a whole array of surgical knots and stitches and how to even surgically remove a cyst (without popping it!). It’s so hands on and practical. You really do get to dive in and the scope is endless. We have such an array of specialities open to us, so many different clinics and people we can experience working with!
So yes, I do kind of feel like this…
…and I can tell, I’m going to have those 10kg eye bags under my eyes for the next 3 years…but clinical years are going to be amazing!