By: 6 October 2014
Notes of a Medical Student

student1It feels like a long time since I have written this column and that’s probably because so much has happened to me in such a short time! The biggest change I’ve had is that I am now a ‘clinical’ medical student. What I mean by this is that we now have very few lectures and are mostly on placement. Since my last column, I have had my first placement at the DPoW Hospital in Grimsby. During my three weeks there I was placed on a medical ward that specialised in endocrine and diabetes, but had all variety of patients on it.

The transition from being in lectures to working long and varied days in a hospital was certainly a shock to me. As I am only at the start of my 3rd year and this was my first placement, I didn’t have much responsibility but there was certainly no room to hide or slack off in the way there is in a lecture full of 200 or more students.

In the first few days I spent most of my time observing rounds and getting to know some of the patients on the ward. I also had the opportunity to start taking bloods and placing cannulas. I thought that I would be very confident and breeze through this like it was no different to the manikin arms we practise on… but it was very different! After my first few attempts however, the nerves settled down and I got into a bit of a routine and while I’m certainly no expert at taking blood, I would feel confident enough to do it unsupervised now.

As I became more comfortable on the ward and more confident in approaching patients by myself, I started to practise some of my clinical examinations. While I have never really had a problem in talking to people, I have worried about how patients would react to a student asking if they wouldn’t mind being bothered for a while. I quickly realised though, that the majority of patients are more than happy to help. Most would enjoy the company and the phrase ‘well you have to learn somehow’ was used more times than I could count!
Many patients would be alone for large parts of the day and medical staff don’t really have the time to be able to sit and have a general chat with patients and so after taking a history or performing an examination, I always tried to spare a little time for them.

As I am a student in Sheffield, Grimsby is the hospital furthest away from us and so when I found out I was placed there, I was very apprehensive. However I have had nothing other than a positive experience from being there. The staff were very welcoming and never made me feel like I was in their way. Every day at least one of the doctors would spare some of their time to teach me something new and I really appreciated their input. I am returning there next week for a placement in Orthopaedics and Trauma – an area I am especially interested in – and I really can’t wait.

I look forward to sharing my first experience on a surgical ward with you all.