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!