Happy New Year everyone! (Am I still allowed to say that if we’re a week in? When is the New Year officially not new anymore?) I hope you all had a peaceful holiday period and refuelled before the January blues – does anyone else get these? You know, when the new term comes along and smacks you in the face? And on top of that people use January as an excuse to plan social events you can’t afford in an attempt to maintain a social calendar which will inevitably fizzle out by mid-Feb… As if that’s not stressful enough, your hollow bank account screams at you for better budget planning this year, but you ignore it in an attempt to get fit and healthy with a brand spanking new gym membership that you’ll use twice: once to try out a new class and once again to take a gym selfie with the hashtag #newyearnewme…. we’re all guilty! Anyways, I digress!
So, January the 2nd marked the start of our CCE – the Core Clinical Education component of our degree. During this time, we will transition from the classroom to the clinical environment as we are based in hospitals and the community where we can develop our clinical skills and knowledge – in other words, we’ve finally been let loose on the wards! We have successfully infiltrated every nook and cranny of the hospital, begging to get onto the interesting cases and be of help to literally anyone who will look in our direction.
Here’s how it works:
We are placed on a certain clinical rotation for 10-week blocks with our clinical partner (basically your work-wife/husband for the rest of the degree). I have to say, although it’s only been a week, I am already loving hospital life – I’ve been placed on the Cardiac rotation for the first 5 weeks and then will move to Respiratory for the latter half of the block. We’ve already been exposed to conditions you normally only see on Grey’s Anatomy, like aortic dissections, DICs, valve repairs and more! (I’m hoping to try and document as many of these as I can for you guys cos some of them are super interesting!)
Whilst on the wards, we’re also expected to practise things like taking histories, examinations, constructing differentials, planning investigations and managements and helping out when and where we can – this includes taking observations (i.e. BP, O2 sats, ECGs etc.), taking bloods, administering cannulas etc. We were trained in Venepuncture around October last year, but I had yet to actually take bloods from an arm that wasn’t made of plastic and filled with synthetic blood – until Friday afternoon when I was thrown into the deep end by a FY1 doctor.
I’m not normally a nervous person, but something about having to actually carry out an invasive procedure on a real-life person is super daunting, especially when they’re already unwell and the last thing they want is to be a human pin cushion for a medical student. But nevertheless, I figured now was as good a time as ever, so I agreed to taking the bloods under the supervision of the FY1 and met with the patient (who was an absolute sweetheart). As kind as the gentleman was, I noticed he was suffering from an intense resting tremor, and I was even more alarmed when the doctor instructed me to take the bloods from the patient’s hand rather than his arm, which is what I am used to. My nerves meant my hands were just as shaky as the patient (which probably came in handy to be fair as our shakes seemed to synchronise!), but with a deep breath, I popped in the needle and… success! There it was, the beautiful little flashback which meant I had entered a viable vein and could begin drawing blood. With the sweet patient’s words of encouragement and the FY1’s egging me on and my clinical partner clapping behind me, I had my mini-Meredith Grey moment and before I knew it – I had taken my very first set of bloods!
It sounds like such a menial thing to get so excited over, but the moment you take your first set of bloods as a medical student you get this buzz – and I can’t wait to do it all over again! If this is how I react to taking bloods, just imagine how I’m going to feel after my first injection, cannulation, suturing – I’m warning you in advance it’s going to get cheesy!
That’s from Week 1! In the following weeks I will do my best to share interesting cases and clinical tips with you all, but for now, here’s a little snippet from the wisest fictional character there ever was:
“This is your starting line. This is your arena. How well you play, that’s up to you.”