Thursday, 30 October 2008

Success At Last!

Today has been so productive that I feel like doing a little happy dance. I got loads of sign-ups in my log book because we finally found a doctor who is really keen to teach us. Although she's a very busy registrar this doctor took an hour and a half out of her morning this morning to observe histories and examinations and to explain drugs charts to us. She's also coming in early on Monday to assist us practicing taking blood on each other. Yay.

It's such a relief to have finally found someone who's taken us all under her wing. We have an amazing radiology teacher too, which is something a lot of other groups are lacking. Everything will finally fall into place if we can find someone to teach us one aspect of our rotation that has been totally neglected as the doctor timetabled to teach us was double booked. Unfortunately we've gone 5 weeks without this important teaching, fingers crossed it'll be sorted next week.

I'm also feeling pretty impressed that this is my 100th post. 100! That's a pretty big number. When I started blogging earlier in the year I wasn't convinced I'd stick with it. I have an awful habit of being really into something for a week or two and then forgetting all about it, but luckly that hasn't happened with the blog. I love writing it as much as I did when I started. Fingers crossed my attention span will let me write another 100 posts!

Lily xXx

Monday, 27 October 2008

Paperwork Mountain

My next placement at uni happens to be in a hospital outside of London. The amount of paperwork I need to fill out is completely insane. Do they not realise I completely lack any sense of motivation when it comes to doing work I have to do, let alone filling out loads of forms about my immunisations, accomodation, car, special study modules etc?

Thankfully my placement isn't until January. Unfortunately with the amount of stuff to fill in it could take me that long. Surely the uni has all this on a big computer it can just forward to this other hospital?! Argh!!

Lily xXx

The Big Read

Shamelessly stolen from Dragonfly

1) Bold: I have read.

2) Underline: Books I love.

3) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2. The Lord of The Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7 . Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 . The Complete works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit–J.R.R. Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield– Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 . Emma - Jane Austen

35. Persuasion - Jane Auster

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath.

77. Swallows and Amazons

78. Germinal - Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte's Web - EB White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Far Away Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (My absolute favourite when I was little. The whole reason I learnt to read was so I could have more than a chapter at bedtime.)

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince - Antoine de St. Exupery (Even better if you can read it in French)

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down– Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town like Alice–Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet- William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Mini Rant: Why do the makers of this meme think those who read the Bible should be forced to read other books?! Clearly a lot of people who read/have read the Bible do read other books. Labelling those who believe in God as stupid and naive is real pet hate as me. I always feel like thumping people who gasp in horror and say "I thought you'd know better, you're a medical student. Surely you understand it's all rubbish...". Not very Christian I know, but seriously one day someone who says that to me will probably get their head bitten off.

Lily xXx

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Chilled Out Weekends = Happy Lily

Now I'm doing long days at uni I'm being a bit of a rebel. I'm taking the weekends pretty much off. From Friday evening through until Sunday evening I don't even think about uni. The old me would have really worried about this and tried to do lots of little bits of work and been permanently stressed. The new me is really liking this. I've realised how much good it does me to switch off for a couple of days. I now actually feel rejuvinated after the weekend.

However, I am worrying that overall I'm not doing enough work. I just really don't know what to do. I don't seem to be absorbing anything by reading books, and to be fair most textbooks are far too dull to read for anymore than an hour without dying inside. I have my second Student Grand Round presentation coming up in the not too distant future so that should keep me feeling like I'm doing some work for the beginning of the week, but after that's done I'll slow to a halt again.

My biggest dilemma this week is what to dress up as for halloween?! Any suggestions would be much appriciated!

Lily xXx

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Lunchtime Etiquette

Since properly starting clinics in the beginning of October my medical student friends and I have been subjected to a crash course in hospital etiquette. Noone bar consultants sit in the front row in meetings/presentations, you always offer your computer to a doctor if they stand near the one you're working on and you refer to everyone more senior than you by their surname even if they have been introduced by first name. All these were pretty easy and obvious to pick up but the other day my firm of medical students encountered a little social awkwardness.

We had teaching with an SpR (or whatever they're called now) when we'd usually have lunch. It goes without saying we were starving. Being on the wards seems to leave us all insatiably hungry. Probably due to the fact that when you have breakfast at 6.30am it's a pretty long time until 12.30 for lunch. Anyway, thats off the point. Basically we were sitting in the Reg Room, where all the registrars in our speciality hang out and they kept coming in with plates filled high with drug company free lunch goodies. We looked wistfully at their food and sat there nursing our rumbling stomachs.

The most senior of our reg's came in the room with stacks of goodies and sat down to have a chat with us. The poor guy had been on nights, but was still working during the day too. He definitely deserved his free sandwich. So the reg sits down and looks at the 4 of us then looks back at his food, and says "Looks like I have just enough Pringles for one each, help yourselves guys!". Not quite sure what to do we all sat their and politely shaked our heads and said "No thanks." About 30 seconds later all our stomachs continue rumbling. "Banana guys?" he says waving a banana in our faces (how wrong does that sounds?!). Yet again we all turned it down. Confused he picked up a kit-kat and tantilizingly presented it to us, "You guys have got to want one of these right?" and yet again we all smiled sweetly and declined. He clearly thinks that we're insane. Students turning down free food?! Madness?! Did we do the right thing? Should we have taken his food and let him go hungry? Did we come across as even more rude by saying no? Are we actually completely stupid? I think the resounding answer is yes.

Lily xXx

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Random Googles Part 4

The most frequently searched topic linking to my blog is still DFS sofa allergies. You people really need to talk to DFS. I'm pleased to say that I seem to be totally fine with my lovely DFS sofa. Still... I'm refraining from licking the sofa just in case...

Worryingly someone has searched "I hate my firm and med students". I'd like to clarify that my firm are a pretty decent bunch and the majority of med students I know are lovely. As with any rule there are exceptions, but the all the nice students make up for the not so nice ones.

I suggest that if anyone hates their firm they either try harder to get on with people or see if they can be moved of firms. If you hate all medical students then maybe you shouldn't be one. If you're a doctor searching that and hate your firm, thats unfortunate. If you also hate medical students thats probably an occupational hazzard. I know we can be a pretty annoying bunch but deep down we're totally loveable. A bit like furby's. Annoying on the surface but deep down everyone wants one to nurture. At least I'd like to keep believing that.

Lily xXx

Who Chose Medicine?!

The medical students on my firm and I adopted a visiting elective student over the past fortnight. He's a really friendly guy from a big medical school in Pakistan. Obviously, as none of us have any experience of medical education outside of the UK or in fact our medical school, we were all very interested to ask all about medical school in Pakistan. In turn our elective student was really curious about medical education in the UK. Lots of questions were asked both ways, but the most eye opening question was asked the other day over a tea break. Totally unpromted this guy asked "So, who chose medicine? You or your parents?!"

The unanimous answer to this from us was "Well we did." without a second thought. This elective student was quite surprised by this as his parents had told him to study medicine, and many of his colleagues at university were in the same position. It took a lot of reasoning to convince him that for the vast majority of british medical students this wasn't the case.

Our first point was that medical school applications rely on interviews in the UK. To get through the interview you have to show a passion for wanting to study medicine and genuine motivation. He very rightly pointed out that it's quite easy to fake this. If you're that content on fulfilling your parents wishes then clearly faking enthusiasm and giving the standard "I want to help people..." response isn't the hardest thing in the world. Nor is obtaining sufficient work experience. We also tried to use the arguement that teenagers in this country are not as likely to care what their parents think. Clearly this isn't true at all. Although I had no problem telling my Dad that my career choices had nothing to do with him not everyone as the same relationship with their parents.

Since this conversation I'm left wondering more and more who's actually at medical school because they want to be. It's so taboo to suggest that it wasn't your idea to go to medical school how many people would admit to it? Surely not everyone who was pressurised into the course would hate it, I'm sure many would end up enjoying it. It does leave me thinking hard about quite how many people I see every day and work with on the wards don't actually want to be there. Even just a month of clinics has shown me that as much as I'm enjoying medicine it's not all roses. I can imagine that getting up at 6am to be in the hospital to clerk patients, wait around for doctors and be grilled over our lacking medical knowledge is an awful experience for those who don't want to be there.

This has also reminded me about the first time my Dad and I had a proper talk about what career I wanted to pursue. I'd already known that I wanted to become a doctor long before the conversation with my Dad but it was a bit tricky. Since about the age of 12 my Dad had tried to get me interested in architecture (not his career, but something that interested him). I had absolutely no interest. I tried to look keen about it, but it really isn't me. I'm neither artistic nor good as physics/maths. After years of being coerced into considering architecture my Dad accepted that it just wasn't the career for me. After this came more years of "She'll make an amazing lawyer... she's so eloquent and loves arguing." Now who wouldn't love to just argue in court all day? Unfortunately law requires lots of things that completely don't interest me, like learning laws for example. I think that probably ruled that out. So I left everyone wondering what I was planning.

One day talking about A-level choices I decided to come out with it. "Papa, I think I want to be a doctor." He didn't look impressed. Most people would be confused by this. Clearly a doctor is a well respected job, most people think it pays well and has a relatively high amount of job security. Why wasn't my Dad jumping up and down with excitement?!

"But it was doctors that killed your mother."

My Dad has a firm belief that the whole reason my Mum died was entirely due to NHS incompetance. Granted she had been going to the GP 3 months before hospital admission and was in hospital another 3 months before she was diagnosed with heavily metasasized terminal cancer. Obviously if the GP would have not dismissed her as having a viral chest infection/flu repeatedly for 3 months then maybe the cancer could have been caught earlier. Somehow I doubt that things were this simple if it took 3 months of on and off hospital admission for anyone to notice that she had cancer. Maybe even if things would have been picked up then nothing would have changed. It certainly doesn't mean that every doctor involved in my Mum's care was useless. Or does it?

I've managed to accept that doctors are only human. But I think this is one of the main reasons I want to become a doctor. To try and stop this happening to other people and to try and reassure myself that doctors aren't incompetant. Unfortunately I'm not always so well reassured (but that's a topic for another post).

Now that I've been studying for a few years, although my Dad still firmly believes that the NHS killed his wife, he's really supportive. In fact he's so supportive that it's verging on hilarious. Not only does he do the typical parent thing of introducing me as "My daughter Lily who studies medicine..." to everyone he meets if I'm there or not, he's taking the boasting to another level. On the phone in a casual conversation I mentioned I'd got a clinical skill signed off that day in my log-book. I explained to him that this meant that I was good enough at the skill for a clinincian to watch me do it and think I'd got the hang of it. Next weekend when I was at home loads of random family friends were congratulating me on it. A little OTT but very amusing. I'm sure it'll soon wear thin when he realises I have about 20 for every rotation.

Although my Dad wasn't keen for me to study medicine, now that I am he's very keen for me to be a surgeon. I think this is from some deep rooted lay-person belief that surgeons are the best and cleverest doctors. I sincerely doubt I'll ever be a surgeon for many reasons, I hate anatomy, I want a family, I like talking to patients and I have a strange obesssion with hormones and babies, to name just a fraction of my many reasons. However I do think surgery is pretty cool and exciting, so if I've been in theatre and I'm chatting to my Dad on the phone after I guess I seem pretty animated talking about it. This is more due to the fact that it's easier to get my Dad to understand what happens in a heart bypass and to tell him about how cool it was seeing a beating heart in someone's chest than it would be explaining how interesting it was seeing a certain ECG of an arrhythmia and how it was being controlled using sotalol which in fact interests me much more.

I think I'm going to have to keep convincing him that surgery isn't the only option for a successful medical student, and to be honest even if deep down he still think's I'd be better off being a surgeon I'm lucky that I can be pretty certain that he'll support me whatever choice I make. A small part of me will always be worried that I've disappointed him though, which I guess is why many people follow their parent's dreams instead of their own.

Lily xXx

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Mystery of the Missing House Officers

Anna gave some amazing advice in my comments for getting the most out of clinics. On the back of this advice myself and a couple of colleagues set off to become super-dooper 3rd years.

Those on a different rotation found this advice amazing. Practically the Holy Grail of studenty tips. They found an amazing FY1 willing to help them learn how to take blood, observe their history sign offs, explain things they didn't understand and help them put together Grand Round presentations. However I came across a little problem. The department I'm with has no FY1s, it also has no FY2s... in fact it only has registrars. Confused I asked why. Specialist nurses I was told. Fantastic I thought. I'll just go and see if a specialist nurse can help. Unfortunately lack of house officers means that the specialist nurses are extremely busy. Too busy to babysit medical students. The registrars are also far too busy to babysit us. Drat.

I've spent today trying to find ways to overcome this.

1. I found some technicians who are willing to show me how to do some tests.
2. Admin at uni say they are organising a course with phlebotomy. Clearly this will be of much value.
3. I am going to try and nab an FY1 from someone else's department that is vaguely similar to mine. This does not mean actual kidnap. I just want to borrow them.

Needless to say I feel like I've wasted today trying to organise things but not getting anything done. I'm also getting worried about the lack of work I'm doing at home. Any tips on studying once in clinical years? I just can't seem to get motivated.

I'm also starting to think about my elective now. More accurately I'm starting to panic, I realise I have almost 2 years to go but it's such an expensive thing. I should probably start trying to budget for it so I know how much to save.

So much to do so little time and even less motivation.

Lily xXx

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Presentation Panic

Argh. I have my first Grand Round presentation tomorrow and I haven't even finished the powerpoint yet!

Thankfully this is just a trial run, but having never seen a Grand Round presentation before I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. To make it worse I really don't have much of a clue about the patient I'm presenting. It's hard to present a case in the second week of clinics when we know so little.

The procrastination is not entirely my fault. I had a really long day today. By the time I'd got in and had dinner it was already 9pm. Then my phone started ringing. I had a nice girly catch up with a girly mate. As soon as I put the phone down from that I had a chat with my Dad and then after that I had a nice long talk with the boyfriend. Excitingly he may come down tomorrow evening which would be totally amazing. Even more excitingly my placement after Xmas is much much closer to him, so seeing him in the week will be even more possible.

I really need to get more proactive in clinics. Although I'm the most vocal member of my group, as a group we don't seem to get much done. I'd really like to find a junior doctor to watch them do examinations and get them to teach me blood taking, but the wards I'm on seem to scare all the junior doctors away. Tomorrow afternoon and Thursday afternoon I shall be going on a doctor hunt...

Lily xXx

Saturday, 4 October 2008

First Week Survived

Against the odds I survived the first week of clinics. More importantly I loved the first week of clinics. We've been warned so much that this year is the time that even some of the most dedicated medical students go out onto the wards for the first time and realise that perhaps medicine isn't the career for them. Because of this, in the back of my mind, I've been worrying that even though I loved the first 2 years of medicine, that maybe I'd completely hate the actual being in hospitals and putting my knowledge to use. So far this totally isn't the case.

My firm heads are both really approachable and helpful. They've also already given us some amazing teaching. I've probably learnt as much in this week with these two consultants as I learnt in a whole month of lectures in 1st or 2nd year.

I also got to see a double coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), findly known as a "cabbage". I found it totally amazing that this surgeon was precise enough to be able to bypass the coronary arteries with little bits of radial and mammary artery. There is no way my sewing could ever get up to that standard.

The only bad thing about clinics is early mornings. Who knew there was a 6am?! I've got into a Grannyish cycle of being in bed by 10. I was so confused this morning where I allowed myself to have a lie in. My body was almost trying to drag itself into the shower and out of the front door by 6.45.

I need to teach myself everything about ECGs before Monday so that I don't look completely stupid, so I should probably go and try and do some work. Or maybe sleep. Sleep would be nice. Really really nice... Mmmmm sleep.

Lily xXx