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.