My Ways of Being a Better Medical Student

I believe trying to observe the following makes me a better student doctor.

Here are My Ways of Being a Better Medical Student:

(Didn’t realize this post would be so long, so I added some pictures from the internet. Photos are linked to their sources!)

Always introduce yourself – to patients and to other staff members. You’ll be meeting people all the time, under a variety of circumstances, at all times of the day. It is only polite and respectful to let everyone know who you are – even just in case you’re not even wanted! It has happened to me a number of times, sometimes patients just want medical students to sit out from consults. It can definitely be awkward, even scary, to find the opportunity to introduce yourself but you just have to man up, find an opening, and do it! Trust me, I know first hand how awkward it feels, especially when it’s one of your registrars or consultants you’re finally seeing for the first time (maybe during rounds) but completely ignoring you. But, more often than not after introducing myself, people will treat me differently – I’m no longer invisible and even addressed by name, who would’ve thought! 😉

Say hello when passing others, and smile. It takes no effort from you and can brighten someone’s day. Win win.

Don’t gossip. And if you must, do it outside the professional environment and out of earshot from everyone else. It makes you look unprofessional and you never know who might be listening. The medical world is small and word can travel fast – don’t sink yourself! You never know who you will cross paths with again and that one person you bad-mouthed could end up being your preceptor, your examiner, etc. If there’s someone I particularly don’t like, I always try to find someone else more constructive to my learning and morale and spend my time with them instead.

Never be afraid to ask questions. It shows you are listening, processing information and are willing to learn. Some people are great teachers and love the opportunity to share their knowledge – they’re just waiting for you to take initiative. Of course, with that being said, there’s always a proper time and place for questions. If someone is having a heart attack, no one wants to hear, “Could you show me how to read the ECG?” And you should really have enough common sense not to ask “stupid” questions that will only make you look bad. If you’re a 3rd year medical student asking, “What’s aortic stenosis again?” you are going to be in big trouble and look ridiculous!

Never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” I have no problems saying, “I’m sorry I don’t know, could you show/tell me?” when I really don’t have a clue how to answer a question I’ve been asked. If I can give an educated guess, I do, but otherwise, there is also nothing wrong with, “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten, could you remind me?” Sure it’s embarrassing for you, but you will learn on the spot and/or never forget that information again. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard, “That’s okay, this way you learn and won’t forget again!” For example, the other week, my surg team was commenting on the long half life of the drug Rutiximab (21 days). The registrar then says, “At least it’s not as bad as Amiodorone! Sandra, what’s the half life of Amiodorone?” I laughed (as if I would know this) and replied, “I know it’s more than 21 days!” Now I will never forget Amiodorone has an extremely long and varied half life of 25-100 days. However, not knowing the answer should happen much less than 50% of the time you are asked questions, otherwise, you don’t know enough and you should go study!

Learn as much as you can on the spot. At this point in our lives, we’re not going to have our hands held and be told what to study. Pay attention on the wards and learn as much as you can – that’s often the useful stuff that you can’t learn as easily from textbooks. Bring paper or a notebook and jot down all the things you learn throughout the day. Write down topics that come up which you need to go home and read up about – follow through with it. Interns are a wealth of knowledge, it wasn’t too long ago they were in the same position as you, ask them questions and listen to their suggestions.

Be keen and willing to learn. Someone who shows they want to learn will be taught more and given more responsibilities. Put in the time and effort you think is necessary for you to reach your learning goals. Ask to participate and ask for opportunities to practice your clinical skills or to broaden your knowledge. Try not to decline a learning opportunity that comes up.

Be that medical student you would want to be partnered with. It’s great when you’re paired with another student who’s friendly, encouraging and easy to get along with, who’s knowledgeable but not cocky, who helps you learn without stealing your thunder, who can shine without throwing you under the bus, who’s not the super keener but not a lazy bum, who’s respectful of patients and confidentiality, etc. But it’s even more important to try and be that person for others. You surround yourself with the people you deserve, so be deserving! 🙂

Bake. Everybody loves home baked goods. If you can bake, you should share that deliciousness. No one will fault you, people will love you.

Keep up with your studying. Cramming doesn’t work anymore. Unfortunately, you have to remember everything you learn and build upon it. It’s hard, I know, I’m continuously working on this point.

Eating is important. But don’t just eat, eat healthy – your body will thank you. Also keep snacks on you – granola bars, nuts, chocolate, etc. They will save your life when you are too busy to take a break.

Get enough sleep. If you function well with 5 hours of sleep, that’s great. If you need 7 hours – make sure you get it. That also means you need to time manage well. Don’t sacrifice your studying or your eating time to make more room for sleep. You really need a balance.

Do things that make you happy. Keep up with your hobbies, take up new ones, see your friends, have quality time with your partner, take time for yourself to rest and relax. Otherwise, you will be lonely, stressed, and crazy.

I’m sure there are lots more that I can’t think of at the moment! 🙂

What about you? Do you have any tips?

Surgery: A New Experience

I think I was expecting to be in a perpetual state of fear and not knowing anything for my surgery rotation but I am quite enjoying it so far.

The rotation is mostly structured as we are placed in different units every 1-2 weeks, with additional scheduled tutorials and clinics. This is what my 8 weeks in surgery looks like:

  • Week 1 & 2 – Upper GI (General Surgery)
  • Week 3 & 4 – Colorectal (General Surgery)
  • Week 5 – Trauma
  • Week 6 – Acute Surgery
  • Week 7 – Burns Unit
  • Week 8 – Urology

There are other units I will unfortunately not have the opportunity to work in: Breast/Endocrine, Hepato/Pancreatic, Plastics and Vascular.

We also have scheduled sessions in multiple clinics that include: Breast Clinic, Breast Screening Clinic, Burns Outpatient Department, Colonoscopy Clinic, Endoscopy Clinic, and Minor-Ops Clinic.

Despite being more structured than in previous rotations, there are lots of opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills, depending on your willingness and your comfort level. Always take advantage of those opportunities! My partner and I have had the chance to see our own patients in the Gastroenterology Clinic and I finally got to put in my first IV canula – hurray!

And of course, being in surgery, we’ve gone in to the operating theatre (OT) to observe 2 surgeries so far. Both patients were from our surgical team. Patient 1 had a complete closure of an enormous abdominal hernia. He already had a surgery to repair the hernia months ago but suffered major complications with a wound that didn’t heal. Patient 2 had a distal gastrectomy (part of stomach removed) due to early stomach cancer.

Perhaps the most important thing in viewing operations: Know who your patients are, what operation they are having and why. Otherwise, not only do you look stupid if the doctors ask you any questions, but you will have no idea what’s going on and not be able to appreciate what you are observing.

If you have the chance to see patients in the ward or in the pre-admission clinic, take the opportunity to talk to them – get a history, do an examination, review their investigations, and read their file so you get the complete story. After surgery, follow the patient’s progress 🙂

We haven’t scrubbed in yet, which I think was a smart thing to do because it gave us the opportunity to walk around and get to know the staff (ie. nurses, anaesthesiologists, etc), and more importantly, stand back and observe how the team works and how the OT functions. Perhaps next time we will ask to scrub in!

[I wrote such a long post, but unfortunately half of it got deleted when I tried to publish and now I’m too lazy to rewrite it all… this is all for now]

Surgery: Groan

We are starting our 3rd rotation – Surgery, next week! I’m already scared just thinking about it.

Received the following email today:

Dear Rotation 3 Students,

Welcome to your Surgery rotation.

Your rotation commences on Monday 20th of May. You will be required to attend a 6.45am Scrub, Gown and Glove session at the RBWH before your orientation. Please report to Madonna Cameron and or Tina Boric on the 4th Floor Reception, Operating Theatres RBWH at 6.45am. 

6:45… in the am. My body is already crying. Thank goodness we live 5 minutes away by bus.

Oh well, have to start getting used to it! Surgery rounds (where the team will go around and see all their patients) start at 7am apparently.

On to a new adventure guys! Starting to set my alarm early (7:30am tomorrow) to lessen the shock when I will have to wake up and it’s still dark outside. 😛

Guess who got their N95 mask fitting?

We did!

Glad we got this done during the break because it would have been hard to get it done during business hours while on rotation again.

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What am I talking about?

From the FDA website: An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. In addition to blocking splashes, sprays and large droplets, the respirator is also designed to prevent the wearer from breathing in very small particles that may be in the air.

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Why did we have an N95 mask fitting done? Because it’s one of compulsory requirements for medical electives back in Canada. 🙂 As they come in different sizes, it is important to have a fitting done in order to know which one to use if they’re ever needed. If fitted properly, they can filter a minimum 95% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. We got to keep our 2 masks for reference/practice purposes. Let me tell you, it is not comfortable wearing a mask!

For any of our friends who need to get it done in Brisbane:

Contact Brian or Terry (Occupational Hygiene Advisers) at the Occupational Health & Safety office on St Lucia campus! You can get their contact information HERE.

The end of GP and 1 week holiday

GP Rotation is finally over after a multiple choice exam last Wednesday and 2 oral exams on Friday.

How did I do? Only time will tell. I always find it hard to gauge my performance, especially during oral exams because I can always think of things I could’ve said or things I could’ve managed better. All I can say is I hope I didn’t fail!

Ended my GP rotation performing a wedge resection of an ingrown toenail – sounds gross but I was pretty excited!

We have this week off before starting our Surgery Rotation next week. No plans to go anywhere or do anything in particular but time is flying. It’s already Monday!

I miss the GP Clinic already, it was such a wonderful place to learn. Thinking of starting a new rotation next week makes me nervous already…

GP: Coming to an end

Friday will be my very last session at the clinic for my GP rotation. How quickly 6 weeks have gone by!

We will having our final exams next week:

A multiple choice question exam on Wednesday and 2 oral exams on Friday. These are 13 minute stations (with an additional 5 minutes perusal) where we will have to perform a diagnostic case and a management case.

For the diagnostic case, we will have a patient come in with a presentation where we will have to take a history, talk through the physical examinations, provide our probability and differential diagnoses and lastly, provide a list of problems that should also be addressed.

For the management case, we will be giving a patient the diagnosis of their illness and will be working with the patient to manage their health. This will include assessing the patient’s knowledge, educating them on the diagnosis, coming up with short and long term management plans, taking the opportunity to discuss preventative health issues, providing resources, planning to follow up and safety netting.

Am I scared? Extremely!

There’s lots of time to study from now until then. I will definitely continue to practice cases and make sure I actually know how to manage diseases! I think the worst thing that could happen is to walk into a scenario where you have no idea what the disease is, let alone how to manage it!

And after next Friday – ONE WEEK HOLIDAY – YAY!

Note to self: Buy a stop watch for exams. Managing your allotted 13 minutes for oral exams is impossible if you have no idea how much time you have left.

GP: Flu Shots

This rotation, I have mastered the skill of giving flu vaccines. Hurray!

The very first time I tried to give a flu shot, the needle didn’t even break the skin – embarrassing!

But now, when people respond with, “Oh, you’ve done it already?” after I tell them, “All done!” I know I’m doing it right.

Important points to know about the flu vaccine:

  • Flu shots protect against certain strains of Influenza A and B by causing your body to produce antibodies that will recognize and fight against the flu should you contract it.
  • It takes 2-3 weeks for your body to produce these antibodies. If you get the flu within 3 weeks after receiving the flu shot, it’s most likely because you didn’t get the vaccine in time.
  • 100% protection is not guaranteed, so there’s still a chance the vaccine will not prevent you from getting the flu.
  • The vaccine does not contain live virus – the vaccine CAN NOT give you the flu.
  • There is a small chance of a severe allergic reaction to the flu shot – that is why everyone is asked to stick around for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to be sure.
  • Side effects of the flu vaccine include: local reaction (redness, swelling, pain, etc), headache, sweating, fevers, muscle/joint pain, fatigue, etc. These side effects are normal and should go away within 1-2 days.
  • Protection lasts around 12 months, which is why you need yearly vaccinations.
  • Children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age receiving the flu vaccine for the first time will need 2 shots, one month apart.
  • The flu vaccine is recommended and safe to give to women during any stage of pregnancy.
  • There are 3 main brands I’ve seen at the clinic: Fluvax (do not give to those under 5yo), Vaxigrip (Junior version for 6-35mos old), and Intanza (different delivery system – upper layer of skin rather than muscle. Causes more of a local reaction. For aged 18+)
  • The flu shot here costs around $15-20, but a person may qualify for a free shot they are: 65+ years old, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 15+ years of age, pregnant, have one of the listed medical conditions (ie. heart disease, severe asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, etc)

And remember to let your doctor know of any concerns or side effects 🙂

GP: Australia is full of NOPE!

I can’t remember how, but my GP preceptor and I started talking about… spiders.

Hurray… not. Spiders scare me 😦

But, as a doctor, it is important to be aware of them as you can have a patient walk in at any time with a spider bite.

According to my preceptor, there are 3 poisonous spiders in Australia to especially look out for:

The Redback spider. At least unlike the Black Widow, the markings are on its back and not on the belly so you can identify it easier!

The Australian Funnel web spider

The White-tailed spider 

Please don’t ever let me come across these personally…

More Australian NOPEs. These are all potentially fatal.

The Box Jellyfish – the most venomous marine animal known to mankind

The Blue-ringed octopus. Despite being the size of golf balls, their venom is powerful enough to kill humans – no antivenom is available.

The Cone snail – shoots poisonous harpoons at its victims… in any direction.

And we haven’t even touched on poisonous snakes and lizards yet… O_O

The good thing about these venomous creatures? So much research has been done and is being done to isolate compounds in the venom that can be used to produce medications that save lives. For example, ACE inhibitors (first line treatment for hypertension/high blood pressure) was first derived from the venom of the Brazilian pit viper.

Max Brenner, double rainbow and pretty skies

Our last treat out with Meaghan in Brisbane – Max Brenner (one of my favourite places) for dessert after our amazing dinner at Next Door Kitchen & Bar!

A very happy girl with her Toffee Choc-Nut Waffle – little pots of melted chocolate can bring such joy into people’s lives!

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Mike and I shared the Spectacular Choc-Fudge Brownie Sundae (with additional caramel sauce, haha). I don’t know how people finish this on their own – sugar coma!

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Silly face!

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Walked out of my house the other day and groaned aloud because it was raining and because it was so early in the morning. On the way to the train station, the rain stopped and this is what I saw – double rainbow all the way across the skyyyy!

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Some days, I make it out of the clinic and home before the sun goes down. When that happens, I get the chance to see pretty colours and bats flying across the sky.

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Other days, I have to walk home alone in the dark 😦 And by the time I get home, my brain and body are too tired to do anything but eat and sleep.

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GP: Way of Teaching

I’m happy to say I have a great preceptor at the clinic where I’m doing my GP Rotation. A teacher with lots of patience who provides many opportunities for learning and always answers my questions, no matter how many I ask.

He also goes by the motto of, “See one. Do one. Teach one.”

That means, for any procedure he feels comfortable allowing a 3rd year med student to perform, I am expected to watch him do it once, during which he talks me through the entire process, giving pointers where appropriate. The next case that comes in, I’m expected to be able to do it myself. Talk about my heart beating faster!

The next Implanon (contraceptive implant just under the skin) removal, punch biospy (sampling a suspicious skin lesion), sebaceous cyst popping (pretty excited for this one), etc – I get to do!

It is amazing how much medicine you don’t learn from textbooks but from a teacher and experience!

GP: “I can tell when my BP is high”

The last patient I saw the other day was, according to my preceptor, a “heart sink” patient. The kind of patient you see on your list that makes you sigh and hang your head in frustration.

This man had uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure – BP) simply because he is extremely non-compliant with his medication. He’s visited the clinic numerous times in the past but doesn’t agree on the importance of his medication, despite detailed explanations each time.

He came in with his wife, who said he still hasn’t been taking his medication and when we asked him why, he said, “Because I only take it when I feel my blood pressure is high.”

We asked, “Do you feel that your blood pressure is high at the moment?”

He responded, “No, because when my blood pressure is high, I can feel it in my ears.”

So we measured his BP, it was 190/80 – which was high, and we told him that. And for the umpteenth time, he was told about the importance of maintaining good BP and that he was at risk of having another stroke – apparently he’s had 3 already, one which took 3 years to recover. He’s also on Warfarin (blood thinning agent) so if he were to have a hemorrhagic stroke (burst blood vessel in the brain), it would be a big one that could potentially kill him or cause major complications.

He laughed and said, “I’ve already had 3, I will just have a big one then!”

His wife chirped in, “If you don’t control your BP, you might die tomorrow! You can’t leave me, I need you!” He replied with another laugh.

Needless to say, the consult ended up a waste of time because the patient refused to take the doctor’s advice. On the way out he apologized with a smile and said, “I’m sorry for my… indifference regarding my treatment.”

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of GP for me – knowing that your patients know their behaviours (smoking, not taking medications, etc) are putting them at risk of serious illness but despite your continued efforts, they simply don’t want to change.

GP: A New Rotation

Two weeks into my second rotation – General Practice

Michael and I are happy to be at the same place this time, yay! It’s a huge clinic with over 15 doctors and a plethora of other staff members. Due to the huge size of the clinic we are really looking forward to seeing a vast variety of patients, diseases, and procedures. Everyone has been extremely kind and welcoming, I’m sure this will be a very valuable rotation 🙂

I’ve already seen so much, but still a lot of studying to do – won’t be long before my preceptor makes me run my own show! He goes by the teaching motto, “See one, do one, teach one.”

Happy Easter everyone!

Rotation 1 complete!

Today I completed my first exam, and thus my first rotation of Year 3 – hurray!

Our Medicine in Society – Geriatric Medicine exam was 1.5 hours with 40 multiple choice questions worth 80 marks, and 1 short answer radiology question worth 20 marks.

The exam was overall fair and representative of what I learned this rotation in geriatric wards. With that being said there were still a number of tricky questions, so hopefully I did well!

Now that that’s over, do I have vacation?

Why yes indeed!

I’m off until March 18, which will be our first week into Rotation 2 – General Practice.

Mike and I are actually at the international airport right now, 3 hours after exam! Heading to Vietnam until next Sunday and stopping over in Singapore tonight. My mom is currently in Vietnam, so we are meeting up with her to visit some family and do some quality relaxing on the beach! 🙂

Plans tonight in Singapore: Chocolate Buffet on the top level of the famous Marina Bay Sands! Mmm, is your mouth watering? Because mine is! We plan to try all 57 chocolate varieties they serve, wish us luck! And of course, we definitely have to check out Gardens by the Bay and photograph the supertree groves! So excited!

We are also flying with Singapore Airlines, so looking forward to a nice and relaxing flight, especially after the exam!

Plan to blog whenever I can during vacation, come back and visit!

Have a lovely day everyone! 😀

MIS: Coming to an End

After an amazing 6 weeks at Prince Charles Hospital learning so much about Geriatric Medicine, my Medicine in Society rotation is coming to an end.

You would not believe how worried and anxious I was to begin working in the hospital this year. The thought of constantly feeling stupid and not knowing enough was enough to get my heart racing. Luckily I was proven wrong. Every staff member I have met at The Prince Charles Hospital has been welcoming and kind. Not only have they taught me so much, but they trusted me and provided innumerable opportunities to apply and broaden my knowledge and skills – I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

Here’s a review of what happened:

I spent my first 2 weeks in the Fractured Neck of Femur  (#NOF) Service (01/21 to 02/01). All patients in this ward had broken their hip and required surgery and rehabilitation.

Then I moved on to the Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Unit for 2 weeks (02/04 to 02/15). These patients can have any sort of health problem, and were in GEM for further rehabilitation or waiting for home services to be set up before going home.

Fifth week I spent in the Cognitive Assessment and Management (CAM) Unit (02/18 to 02/22). This ward is more long-term and all patients have some kind of dementia. CAM was an especially unique and enjoyable experience. I got to know all the patients on a personal level and it was admiring to see how the staff take care and handle patients when they are being difficult.

During my last week (02/18 to 02/22), I spent a few days with the Geriatric Referral and Liason Service (GRLS) and some days back in the CAM Unit. The GRLS team takes referrals from all different wards of the hospital to see if patients would be appropriate for transfer to the GEM unit or elsewhere. GRLS was especially beneficial because I was able to learn how referrals work and got to become more familiar with other wards in the hospital.

We now have this week off to study for our exam on Thursday! And also have to finish up our health projects. For mine, I’ve created a medical information brochure for the Fractured NOF Service. I’ve received patient/family feedback and it’s now in the final stages of editing before being submitted to the forms committee.

Overall, I’ve extremely enjoyed my Geriatric Medicine rotation. I have had so many encounters with patients, their families, and health professionals that have taught me more than any textbook could. Thank you TPCH for a wonderful experience! 🙂

MIS: Chart Writing

As silly as this may sound, one of the most exciting things I’ve done on the wards is writing in patient charts. It gives me a satisfying sense of responsibility and makes me feel like a trusted member of the team. But that could just be me!

10 things I’ve learned regarding patient charts:

  1. The whole world would be happier if charts were electronic.
  2. Everyone on a multidisciplinary team has better handwriting than doctors – MUCH better.
  3. Sometimes, doctors really do have nice penmanship and you are so so grateful.
  4. You spend a lot of time looking for charts because another person on the team is using it. Refer to #1.
  5. You need to put a patient sticker on every piece of paper in their chart. Things fall out of plastic sleeves and papers get ripped all the time. Refer to #1.
  6. You are happy to see that the file you’re holding is “Volume 1” and not “Volume 7” because that means: the patient has not had lengthy hospital stays and you don’t have a ton of catch up reading to do.
  7. Forget white coats, charts are the dirtiest things around. They get carted around the hospital everywhere the patient goes, are constantly manhandled by innumerable hands, and never get cleaned… ever. Refer again to #1.
  8. It is always better to be more detailed than brief in your charting.
  9. Describing patients as “pleasantly confused” is a lot more common than you think, especially in geriatric wards – thanks to dementia. It sure took me a second the first time I read that description in a patient file.
  10. Unlike my seniors, I am not even close to mastering the art of reading through an entire patient chart in less than 5 minutes, while retaining everything I read. Got a loooong way to go.

MIS: You look good today!

I had a chat the other day with a patient who’s been with us for over 2 weeks now. He’s had ups and downs since his surgery, compounded by the fact that he has severe interstitial lung disease.

He was looking better so I was happy to say, “You look good today!” He replied with, “Yea! But what you don’t see is that I’m a broken person on the inside.” Too much talking takes his breath away so he went quiet and started writing in his notebook. I let him write in peace and a few minutes later he handed me what he had written. A list of nearly 10 other medical issues (that we already knew of course) currently affecting him and his quality of life. A reminder that every patient’s story and definition of “doing better” is always more intricate than the current issue at hand.

This man is a palliative patient. He knows his condition is end-stage and will continually worsen over time, which made it even more heart touching to hear him say he was fighting to stay with his family and grand daughters. How much of an inspiration your loved ones can be…

MIS: Causes of falls

(In case you’re wondering, MIS stands for Medicine in Society – the rotation I’m currently undertaking, specifically in Geriatric Medicine)

Alright, moving on!

I’m currently in the Fractured Neck of Femur (broken hip) Service. That means, all our patients are elderly AND have broken hips that need repairing.

We admitted a number of new patients this week and as usual, needed to ascertain how they fell. There are a number of factors that can attribute to a fall, either extrinsic or intrinsic factors.

Intrinsic factors are things that are wrong within the body. This includes: balance and gait problems, visual impairment, medications, cognitive problems (ie dementia), cardiovascular problems, etc. Extrinsic factors include anything in the surrounding environment that could cause a fall – stairs, footwear, floors surfaces, lack of mobility equipment, etc.

As you can probably tell, it’s really important to find out the cause of a patient’s fall, because if possible, we want to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Asking our 80+ year old patient:

“And how did you fall?”

“I got blown over by the wind! If you can believe that!”

Resident and I just could not keep a straight face! An elderly woman carrying a pot of spaghetti for her neighbour (who just got out of the hospital) suddenly gets shoved from behind by a gust of wind (easily around 90km/hr during this storm week) and ends up in the hospital – the poor thing! She is lovely though, and her recovery is going well, which is great!

Wind = extrinsic factor 😉

I’m a 3rd year med student now – woo hoo!

Hello world!

Haven’t blogged in a long time, but this first week in the hospital has been insane!

What? In the hospital you say? Yes!

I’ll just start with a brief blurb about Phase 2 of our medical education 🙂 3rd and 4th years are known as clerkship years. Good bye are the daily lectures and hello to real world learning! We spend all our time in the hospital, going through 5 rotations a year learning everything we need to become the best doctors we can be. Each rotation is 8 weeks long, with one week orientation at the beginning and one week for review and exams at the end.

This is my rotation order this year:

rotation orderMy first rotation is Medicine in Society – specifically in Geriatric Medicine at The Prince Charles Hospital (TCPH). I had never been at this hospital and didn’t know what to expect. Additionally, although my clinical hospital is RBWH (5 minutes away) it would take 40 minutes to get to TPCH, ugh!

Needless to say, the thought of starting 3rd year terrified me. Imagining my constant lack of knowledge, being berated by my seniors, looking stupid in front of patients, etc.

This week, however, has been amazing! I am spending the first 2 weeks in Fractured Neck of Femur Clinic. In this ward, we work in a multidisciplinary team to care for patients who have broken their hip and will require surgery, making sure their pre and post-op care is complete.

I feel extremely lucky to have been assigned to a great medical team which comprises a geriatrician (GeriDoc, my preceptor), a registrar (Reg) and an intern (Resident). Mornings are spent doing ward rounds with Reg and Resident (GeriDoc joins us at least twice a week), lunch times are often spent in meetings and afternoons are spent doing ward work.

I have learned an amazing amount in such a short time. The most important thing I’ve learned is not the medical knowledge, but how to work in a ward. Understanding the dynamics of working with other staff members, knowing where to find things, learning procedures and protocols on tasks like prescribing meds, ordering bloods and imaging, etc. Being comfortable on the ward and with others is the first step to success I think!

Reg and Resident have been instrumental in my positive experience thus far, especially since I spend all my time with them, and for that I’m very thankful! They are kind, patient at teaching and do not hesitate to give me opportunities to learn and make me feel a part of the team. Although he’s quite busy, I have also spent some time with GeriDoc and he has been more than encouraging. I will be spending more time with him this week, so I’m nervous but anticipating lots of learning.

My only complaint? I’m so wiped by the end of the day! I leave the house at 7am, get to the hospital before 8. Have a bit of time to review recent tests before handover and ward rounds start. Go all day, sometimes no time for lunch, and finally home around 5-6pm. If I’m lucky, earlier! By the time dinner is over, I can barely keep my eyes open to study 😦 Slowly getting used to it though!