Monthly Archives: February 2009



Look, I was never expecting Drugs in Sport to be the thrill of a lifetime but it did look from the little blurb on the year website as though it would be reasonably busy while not being manic. I have had nothing to do. I’ve been in for perhaps an hour and a half a day, on the busy days. The assessment was based on a presentation and an essay, and for the first two weeks I hadn’t been given a title for either of them so couldn’t even do any reading. In the little blurb, it said that part of our assessment would be a lab report, but that was abolished and thank God for that — there were two labs, one that involved half an hour of being told how a flow cytometer works and one that involved watching a lab technician pipette some reagents into some test tubes and then put them into a centrifuge, and, bloody hell, I was a biomedical scientist, the value in me watching someone else use a pipette is so far non-existent that it begins to actually have a negative value.

The highlight was the lectures by Professor Hillis, who asks questions and is engaging and interested in his subject and the only thing that kept it from being a total loss.

The other ‘highlight’, awarded on the grounds of unintentional comedy, was the guy who was meant to give us a lecture on pharmacodynamics but unilaterally decided that that would be a waste of time and instead spent an hour telling us how Pfizer is going to save the world. I’m still not convinced that he wasn’t a drug rep.

So, what have I done in the last five weeks?

I’ve made cakes, I’ve helped campaign for equal rights for LGBT couples, I’ve spent a weekend singing in Giffnock, I’ve arranged to spend one of my empty days in clinical practice and seen some patients, I’ve got bored and actually started researching specialties, I’ve lived in the SL on most weekdays and managed to completely rewrite and revise all of my notes for Block 7 and Block 8, and I’ve still managed to give a presentation on the role of exercise in reducing hypertension and write what I think is a decent essay on doping control tests for performance-enhancing peptide hormones. It has not been a waste of time. I have got other things done and I know that I’m going to be enormously grateful for the time I was able to spend going back through last term’s work. It was just not what I was expecting it to be.

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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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LGBT Network: Petition to the Scottish Parliament

These are the last couple of days of my SSM. In spite of how utterly crap the SSM itself has been (and I will elaborate on all of my vague grumbles once it’s actually over, I promise), I’m having quite good fun with the essay. It’s been a long time since I wrote a proper literature review that I could really get stuck into. But next week heralds the return of normality and PBL, and I’m ridiculously happy at the thought of being a medic again.

I’m going to take a minute now to use my blog as a platform for furthering my political agenda.

This week, I’ve been campaigning around the university on behalf of the LGBT Network Europe.

We are asking the Scottish Parliament to consider amending the Marriage (Scotland) Act so that same-sex couples will be allowed to register a civil marriage, or, if they wish and there is agreement by the relevant faith group, a religious marriage.

We believe this to be important for a number of reasons:

+ there are over 70 legal rights that married couples have and civil partnered couples do not — these include but are not limited to the right to adopt children as a couple, the right of a step-parent to ask for and be granted parental rights and responsibilities over their partner’s biological children, and the right to be considered jointly for tax purposes

+ there are many gay men and women of faith and there are a growing number of faith groups that would happily marry these people, but, as the law stands, same-sex couples are not entitled to a marriage and civil partnerships are not legal if they are performed by a minister, in a religious building, or include any religious references within the ceremony

+ if a same-sex couple has registered a civil marriage in Spain or Holland, where there is no difference between a marriage registered by a same-sex couple and one registered by a heterosexual couple, and then comes to Scotland, their relationship is downgraded to a civil partnership

Because of the last point, all of this is going to eventually lead to a court case that will be heard in Brussels, but we know that it could be up to three years before it gets there, and we want the Scottish Parliament to look at it before that. It is the first in what will be many, many steps — all we’re asking for at the moment is for them to look at it, and think about it, and have an open debate about why it can be done or why it can’t be done.

The petition closes next week.

It can be signed here on the Scottish Parliament website, and, crucially, you do not have to live in Scotland to sign it.

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Posted by on February 24, 2009 in Blog


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A Morning in GP Land

The run and the weekend did the trick, and I’m feeling much more like myself today. I still don’t like my SSM, but that’s the way that goes and at least I’m getting a decent amount of revision done. It’s only another two weeks, anyway, and I do have an essay that needs writing…

The highlight of last week was a half-day in clinical practice. It had no real point. It wasn’t even timetabled, I had asked my VS tutor if I could spend the morning in clinic with him before I went absolutely nuts from lack of human contact and he’d agreed, but it was a good day. I went down to the rural-ish practice that I’m based in this year and saw a few patients, and it was a good day. There were some of what I’d imagine are the standard patients for a Monday morning in general practice. There was a very happy, very smiley baby who waved at me a lot. There was an FY2 who I’d not met before, in my previous visits to this practice. I don’t want to be a GP — never have done, and the more I see of it, the more it feels like they’re the ones who get the worst and then some when it comes to targets and busywork and politicians who’ve never heard the expression, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But I enjoy it when I’m there, and I don’t think the proposals of making a GP rotation compulsory in one of the foundation years are such a terrible idea.

I need this, sometimes. Sometimes you can get so entrenched in the detail and the theory and the mind games, even, that it’s very easy to forget what the point of it all is. I just need a couple of hours with patients every now and then, and I remember and I get my motivation back. I’ve never come back from any sort of clinical practice and not been able to say, “Yes, this is what I want to do and this is where I’m meant to be.”

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Posted by on February 16, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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I’m in a weird mood. If I were a cartoon, I would have a grumpy face and be standing underneath a tiny black storm cloud. It’s just been one of those weeks. I’m finding this SSM duller than a very dull thing, I’ve been spectacularly unproductive, I’ve got thoroughly pissed off with certain parts of the faculty, I’ve spent most of the last three days stuck at home, and I’ve found myself buying into (or at least being affected by) other peoples’ negative attitudes when usually I do a much better job of ignoring them.

I had a brilliant day in clinical practice on Monday, but that was just about the only bright spot in what’s felt like a very long week.

I need to shake this off. So, this afternoon, I need to get a new matric card from the Registry and then I’m going for a run, which should help to regain some of my equilibrium. I haven’t been running since the beginning of the week, and I think that’s at least part of what’s wrong with me. I’ve got most of this weekend to myself and that should help, too – work to do, yes, but it’s been far too long since I was able to spend a couple of days alone. I’ll have church on Sunday, and I’m spending Monday evening with a group of good, non-medical friends. I know how to get myself out of black moods, I just need to actually do it.

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Posted by on February 13, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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Medicine and Religion

I don’t know how many of you have been following this story about Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended from her job with North Somerset PCT for offering to pray for a patient; or this one, which is related to the first one and has emerged in the last few days; or any of the blogs, like this and this, that have been commentating on the issue.

If you haven’t, the first thing you should do is read the actual Department of Health document that everyone’s shouting about.

With the exception of one Guardian blogger, everything that I’ve read in the last day or two has been either people talking about ‘political correctness gone mad’ and saying that of course Christians should be able to proselytise at whomever they choose, or people calling for the stoning of everyone who has ever believed in a higher power and an absolute end to all this religious claptrap. I’m a practicing Episcopalian (albeit a liberal secularist one) and I find myself with more sympathy for those in the latter camp.

But someone needs to be the voice of reason, and it looks like that someone is going to be me. This is the letter that I sent out to the editor of every major newspaper in the UK last night:

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my support for the staff religious guidelines that were issued by the Department of Health last month and have been released into the wider public awareness in the wake of Caroline Petrie’s suspension.

I can only imagine that the individuals who are protesting these guidelines have never had unsolicited and unwelcome religious overtures made to them when they were at their most vulnerable.

I am a medical student and a Christian.

My faith affects the choices I make and the way I live my life, but it does it quietly. I don’t proselytise to my colleagues, I don’t offer to pray for the people I meet in a professional setting, and I don’t wear a crucifix where there might be patients. It’s something personal, something that I keep between me and my God, and, most importantly, it has nothing to do with my job.

Nobody is saying that NHS staff have to choose between their beliefs and their job. Nobody is going refuse to give me a job because I go to church on a Sunday morning and celebrate Christmas for more than just the mince pies.

They are saying that all patients have the right to be treated with equal respect, that healthcare professionals should not impose their religious conscience on those patients, and that doctors and nurses are not priests and shouldn’t try to be.

It should be common sense, and I am saddened and disappointed to discover that it isn’t.

Yours faithfully,

Miss Sefkhet
University of Glasgow Medical School


Posted by on February 7, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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It’s Entirely Possible That I Need A Life.

So, I really got stuck into the Block 7 notes last week and it went so well that I was absolutely determined they would be finished by the end of the weekend.

This is what happened about an hour ago —

Flatmate: How are you doing?
Sefkhet: *types last sentence with flourish* I am DONE!
Flatmate: Seriously, all of Block 7?
Flatmate: Yay!
Sefkhet: Right, I’m done for the night.
Flatmate: It’s eleven-thirty on a Saturday.

Er. I’ll be having tomorrow off, yes?

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Posted by on February 1, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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