Monday, 18 June 2012


As part of medical training in the UK, students are required to go on what we call an "Elective" in either their 3rd/4th/5th year of training. The purpose of this is to experience medicine and medical education that is different to what you've already learned on your course. For most students, this means experiencing healthcare systems abroad. For me, it means seeing and being part of different healthcare systems in different populations and settings within the UK.

For the first 4 weeks of my elective, I chose to spend time with London Ambulance Service (LAS). What I saw and experienced was INCREDIBLY valuable. I could far better appreciate the different challenges the paramedics and ambulance technicians etc face prior to transporting patients to hospital. It's really changed my outlook. Sadly though, due to a series of unfortunately timed and unexpected events, my placement with LAS hasn't been able to continue beyond the first 5 shifts I had observing a paramedic. Everyone I've spoken to has really been helpful and tried to be accommodating, but sadly the placement has had to end.

This, has left me in a sticky situation. I need a total of 8 weeks signed off to be able to carry on into my 5th and final year of medical school. Currently, I only have 10 days signed off. The second 4 weeks of my elective is arranged and looks to be really interesting, so that's all sorted, but the missing 2 and a half weeks of sign off sheets is a tad frustrating. The medical school have been helpful so far, but it remains to be seen as to how I'm going to rectify all this. I most likely will have to undertake yet another placement during my summer holiday (Which I'm really rather upset about - I passed all my exams so had a summer free of work and resits. Oh, I don't think I'd said. I PASSED!!!! WOOOOOOP!!!).

Elective is supposed to be a fantastic learning experience and really enjoyable. I wish mine had stayed that way. It's safe to say I'm exceptionally grumpy and fed up at the moment about it. I genuinely want to learn - I love learning and I don't think I'd have stayed in medicine if I didn't. Being bored with very little to do during the week (because the friends I have in London are working/at university) is really frustrating, and being able to do nothing to rectify the no placement situation is frustrating too. So, to cheer me up, if you've been on a medical school elective, tell me about it! What was good, where did you go, what did you learn, did you find anything particularly difficult or have any problems? If I can't learn from my own experiences, it'd be great to hear about some of your experiences too. Ping me an email at futurehemsdoc (at) gmail (dot) com and tell me about your elective!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

I live with jerks....

I have just been woken by a fire alarm, caused by the flat upstairs. I have an exam this morning. Might stand outside the upstairs flat's door with a very loud alarm at 7.30.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Dear Grandad

Dear Grandad,

It's been just over a year since you died and I've missed you every day since. Last weekend you would have had your 90th birthday, and I wished I could have shown you how far I've come in the last year. You would be so proud of me. I'd like to think somewhere you still are proud of me.

I'm finally starting to find my place in this world, and becoming comfortable with the person I am. I'm starting to become the confident young woman you knew I could be, and I'm well on my way to being a doctor now. You were so FIERCELY proud of me for that. For how hard I work, how much I wanted this, and how much I was willing to give up to get to where I want to be. I only wish I had spent more time with you before you died. To tell you more often how much I loved you. I know you knew that, but I wish I'd said it.

It's taken me a while to write this. Not because it's been difficult, just because I have so much to say to you. I want to thank you for being so proud of me. It's the only reason I've kept going this year, and the only reason I will keep going until I'm a doctor.

Thank you for everything,

Your granddaughter,


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Learning and Teaching

At my medical school, we're taught in a variety of ways. Traditional lectures, dissection, prosection, but also newer ways of teaching "Problem Based Learning", interactive seminars, teaching ward rounds, "structured patient teaching" and regular primary and secondary care (GP surgery and hospital) placements from your first year of study. Everyone has ways they learn best, and ways that aren't necessarily the best for them. Personally, I hate lectures. Often I feel they're "Death by PowerPoint" and it's quite easy to switch off in a warm, dark, comfy lecture theatre. Even easier to switch off when the lecturer turns up 10 minutes late, doesn't know what the lecture is supposed to be on, or what year of study you are (things that are rather important to know in my opinion!).

Recently, we've been timetabled some seminars, which are given by 2 different lecturers on alternating weeks. One lecturer is truly fantastic. He makes you think, hates PowerPoint, and obviously really enjoys teaching. The second sees the seminars as an opportunity to talk AT us, and show off how much he knows. Not something that is particularly helpful. I love learning, really I do, I wouldn't be at university if I didn't. But I have to be taught in an engaging way before I enjoy learning. Teaching is an important part of medicine - we're taught mainly by practising clinicians and other healthcare professionals, who see the stuff they teach us. This is unbelievably valuable and a fantastic learning opportunity for us as students.

Because of fantastic teaching, I myself find teaching other students valuable as a way of revising, and also I find it enjoyable - the look on someone's face when they finally understand something they've been struggling with is great when you've helped them reach that level of understanding. This has, however, left me thinking. I want to carry on teaching, and I've had fantastic feedback about my style of teaching. Should I look for more opportunities to teach as a student? I just don't know if my knowledge is good enough.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Now I've made it to my 4th year of study, there's a lot of talk about career pathways. I've always been dead set on prehospital/critical care, and love anaesthetics as a speciality. However, I've just finished a rotation on Obstetrics and Gynaecology - a speciality I had convinced myself I'd hate - and loved EVERY minute of it. The SHOs (junior doctors) were incredibly enthusiastic, willing to teach, and happy to have me involved with clinical skills. They've made me a lot more comfortable in my abilities as a medical student (for example, I am MUCH less nervous taking bloods from patients now), and this is the first placement I've felt truly happy on. I was treated like part of the team by everyone, midwives and doctors alike, and was comfortable in my role. I was given a lot more responsibility on this placement (still with supervision) and really enjoyed the experience. I actually felt like I was benefitting patient care. This has reminded why I went into medicine, and reminded just how close I am to finishing Medical School.

I think I could honestly see myself as an obstetrician in the future. The career has everything - a mix of surgery and medicine, it's hands on from an early stage, has good job prospects, has emergencies to deal with on a regular basis and the uncertainty of not knowing what you'll see next. Seeing myself in a career I thought I'd hate is bonkers, but this is what you get for staying open minded! It's a good job I am open minded about specialities, I think, because otherwise I could end up in a career I truly hate.

To the wonderful SHOs: Thank you. Thank you for making me confident in my skills and for helping me find my feet. I can't repay you for that.

To the consultants: Thank you so much for being enthusiastic about your speciality and willing to take the time to speak to and teach students. It was noticed and very much appreciated.

To the midwives: Thank you for not conforming to the stereotype, and being truly lovely to everybody - and thank you for the opportunity to deliver a baby. This was truly special and something I shall never forget.

To the patients: Thank you for letting me be involved in your care, and helping me learn and become a better medical student. I truly enjoyed getting to know you and your families, and helping you welcome your new babies to the world. Thank you particularly to the lady who let me deliver her baby. It was a wonderful experience to be involved in, and I won't forget you and your family. Congratulations on the birth your beautiful baby.

Friday, 12 August 2011

I made it!

I made it. I actually survived 3rd year. I've passed all my assessments, and all my end of year exams (including the OSCE where I was continually attacked by a wasp!) and I've survived. I'm finally a 4th year.

This year has been horrific, looking back. My grandfather died, my grandmother has been in and out of hospital very ill too, I've had surgery for a very stupid injury, and suffered a lot of ill health as a consequence; and I've had a bit of a decline in my mobility. Of all of that, losing my grandad just before my 21st birthday was definitely the worst part of the year. And although passing the year is a great achievement, it makes it all the more real that my grandad will never see me graduate. He was immensely proud of me, and what I do, and I wish he was here to see my finally happy and truly loving my degree and chosen career.

Having an entirely free summer is giving me time to reflect on the year and how it went. I think the best description has to be rocky. A bit like being on a boat in a storm, that's only just passed. But even with all the difficulties, I've done well in all my exams, I've become a lot more settled, and I've become more confident and happy. I've also made some truly fantastic friends this year. One of whom is a junior doctor, without whom I probably wouldn't have passed the year, or stayed sane. So, a BIG thank you for being an amazing friend this year goes to Natalie, a very lovely person and a fantastic F2 Doctor.

This year has definitely made me a stronger person, and I think things can only get better from this point. I'm much more open to the possibility of several careers in medicine, including paediatrics, anaesthetics, intensive care, as well as my still very strong love of A&E and Pre-Hospital medicine. I'm completely at home in the hospital now, and really loving my placements. I've realised even more this year how much of a privilege it is to see patients, and to all of you who let medical students see you, thank you, it really is SO valuable.

Next year I have much to look forward to. Rotations in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and my elective, a new PBL group and a chance to meet new people, and I honestly can't wait to get back. But, for now, I'm going to kick back and enjoy my summer. I won't get many more holidays like this, so I'm going to do my best to make the most of it!!



Saturday, 2 July 2011


First of this year's exams starts on Wednesday. I'm stressed out of my mind and fed up of not leaving my room, have tons of revision to do and it would have to be beautiful weather outside. Determined to do really well this year and do my Grandad proud.