See One, Do One… Teach One?

25 Nov

In one of my earlier rotations this year, I was landed with a work experience student for a bit.

Really, it’s more accurate to say that she was landed with me.

I am fairly obviously not even a little bit qualified for such a thing. I can’t tell anyone what it’s like to be a doctor, not really, and sixteen-year-olds do not go on work experience to find out what it’s like to be a medical student. If they’re anything like most of us when we were their age, sixteen-year-olds go on work experience harbouring the fond delusion that they might get to assist on brain surgery. So far as I can gather, her consultant thought that she’d learn more about what she might be getting herself into if she shadowed a junior doctor, and the junior doctor followed that thought to its logical conclusion and thought that she’d learn more about what she might be getting herself into if she shadowed, well, me. It might be true. It might even have given her something a little bit different to talk about in interviews and I hope it did.

On a purely selfish note, I do admit that it was nice to not be the most junior person on the ward round for once.

Still, watching me look lost and useless isn’t what I’d call the most inspiring sight. I was in my first five minutes on a new ward when she joined me — ‘lost and useless’ isn’t an exaggeration, the poor girl spent a decent chunk of time that afternoon watching me spin slowly in circles in the middle of the treatment room as I bemoaned an apparent lack of syringes. And even if I eventually stopped looking lost and useless, it’s not as though I was empowered to do much with her. I showed her how to take bloods and do venflons, and I showed her how not to do blood gases and demonstrated the art of giving yourself a needlestick injury with a heparinised needle. In spite of my best efforts to find her someone interesting to be with for a few hours, she ended up at one point in a tutorial on diabetic emergencies that included things that went over the top of my head.

It’s been a long time since I did my work experience, and an even longer time since I was sixteen. I don’t know if I had much of an idea what I was trying to achieve with it, back then The clearest memory I have is of the SHO who tried valiantly to teach me some radiology, asking what was abnormal about the CXR of a patient who was coming into outpatient clinic. “Well, I’m sure that this big thing in the middle of the lung probably isn’t supposed to be there, so I think he might have cancer,” I said, with the absolute certainty possessed only by someone who knows nothing but has a shiny new batch of good GCSEs and is therefore convinced of her brilliance. Of course, my brilliance was undermined somewhat by the fact that I was pointing at the left heart border. I tell this story to demonstrate that no matter how ridiculous you think you might sound, there is always someone who has said something stupider than whatever it is that you’re about to say.

In any case, it got me thinking: what do you guys want to get out of your work experience? I’m asking mostly out of curiosity; after all, I don’t expect personally to be faced with that question again for at least the next few years. I would really like to know, though. I feel like if I don’t know what I wanted from my work experience (and if I don’t know the answer to that now, I never will), then I’m hardly going to be in a position to make assumptions about what other people want from theirs.
Now playing: Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 – 2nd movement

1 Comment

Posted by on November 25, 2010 in Blog, Medicine


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One response to “See One, Do One… Teach One?

  1. Saam

    March 14, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I think the thing I wanted most when I went on my work experience, was to decide if I actually wanted to become a doctor or not. In hindsight, maybe a week’s rotation shadowing is not the best way, but at 16, it was just about as good as you are going to get. At the end of the day, it is what it says; an experience, that is all you want really.

    PS-hope you’re well, just going through all of your blog posts, a great read I must say! I’m using it to find some sort of motivation to begin my revision for the exams, as well as OSCEs and to start my second batch of LCP coursework. Hope 4th year is fun! Look forward to the lack of exams myself :).


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