Monthly Archives: August 2010

The End of Summer

So, back to work. It feels like it was barely yesterday that I came home from the Western Isles and it’ll never not seem weird to be going back to uni in August — even weirder, since the rest of the UK actually gets a bank holiday on Monday. Still, it’s been a lovely few weeks of having obscenely long lies in and reading books that weren’t about anything to do with medicine.

I have lectures on Monday. On Tuesday, I start my 18 months of clinical medicine with a rotation in General Medicine and a daily commute halfway across Scotland and the Glorious Year Of No Exams.

Now playing: Murray Gold – The Unicorn And The Wasp
via FoxyTunes


Posted by on August 28, 2010 in Blog, Medicine



My Slice of Paradise

Dalbeg, Eileanan Siar

See, who needs tropical beaches?

I had an incredible time on elective. I came because I wanted to experience rural and remote medicine in my own country. It’s completely different to anything I’ve ever done or expect to do on the mainland — it’s not much bigger than a medium-sized cottage hospital, everyone knows everyone else, you can’t get labs after 5.30pm or a CXR on the weekend,  and there are no registrars at all. Besides, there aren’t many hospitals in the UK where you hear stories about patients being flown off the island by the MOD during the volcanic ash.

I’ve lived and worked with some terrific people. I’ve picked up a few words of Gaelic. I’ve been to the very edge of Scotland and watched waves come in from the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve got caught in island storms while running along the banks of some stunning lochs. I’ve had a barbecue on a beach. I’ve avoided being eaten by midges. I’ve learned where to buy emergency rations on a Sunday. I think that maybe I’ve even learned a bit of medicine.

Honestly, this isn’t where I see myself working (mind you, MTAS could feel differently). I have many reasons, which all boil down to the fact that I’m a city girl and I’d like my civilisation to be more accessible than a 4+ hour expedition by bus and ferry. But for a month, this has been absolutely perfect.

Now playing: Mozart – Horn Concerto No.4 in E Flat Major
via FoxyTunes

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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in Blog, Medicine


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Trial By Fire

My hospital is a remote DGH with a tiny staff. This is a good thing. The compensation for going to the arse end of nowhere is that this is where you’ll find hospitals with fewer students, better teaching, and much more opportunity for getting stuck into things. I was told before I came that at this hospital, I would be able to do practical stuff and improve my clinical skills.

I clerked in my first patients. I learned how to scrub in. I relearned how to take bloods. I stopped trembling when I had to sign patients’ notes, and pretended I wasn’t when I had to hold down a toddler for a blood draw.

At least twice a day, someone asked, “Are you a medical student? Do you put venflons in?” I always told them that I was a medical student but that I’d only ever done a venflon on a plastic arm (and that in my OSCE, I had failed to do even that — but I didn’t say that part), and they always balked and went to find someone else. Eventually, my FY2 found a man with excellent veins and herded me in to his room… and I gave up after the fourth attempt. It happened again on the next three patients. The patient who ended up being my first successful venflon got me because it was the middle of the night and the ward nurse thought that my burgundy scrubs indicated some sort of competence.

The patient didn’t ask if I’d done this before, and thank God for that. I’d not slept. I might have blurted out the thing about the plastic arm.

Although if someone’s putting in a venflon and they can’t work out the venflon dressing, it’s a pretty good indicator that they’ve never done this before.

I cleaned up the blood that I’d got all over her and apologised profusely to the nurses for the blood that I’d got all over her sheets, and I scuttled back to the doctors’ room with my heart still doing triple time. They beamed at me. “Oh, we knew you could do it. You just needed to be left alone to get on with it!” Well, I suppose. Yes. I feel better about them now — getting one in in the mostly dark at five o’clock in the morning does wonders for confidence, even if it doesn’t do much for actual technique. Still, I’d not have wanted to be that patient.

I’ve still not worked out how to get them in without spurting blood absolutely everywhere.

Now playing: Woldemar Bargiel – Adagio for Cello and Orchestra
via FoxyTunes


Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Blog, Medicine


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