Highlight so far has been the two week placement at the hospital. I got the opportunity to shadow two consultants (well technically three) which I found a lot of fun. Don't know if the consultants enjoyed being stalked but they seemed pretty helpful and ok that there is a first year medical student following closely behind. First week I was at the HPB Surgery ward and I saw mainly elderly patients. Also got the opportunity to scrub in and watch a few surgeries. Highlight surgery I saw was a gastrectomy. Made me realize how complex and how intricate surgery is. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the 3.5 hour surgery. On the other hand, I don't think my back enjoyed it...nor my feet. But I was genuinely fascinated. However, my partner somehow was bored to death and non-stop bugged me to go back to the ward with her to watch ward-rounds. Second week of placement was probably the best week. I was placed in Paediatric Surgery and shadowed a consultant who was quite busy so another consultant took me under his wing. His team of doctors were really knowledgeable and taught quite a bit. Learned about various illness that affect children. Saw patients with appendicitis, Hirschsprung's disease, Barrett's syndrome, Meckles, and many more. Again, I had the opportunity to go to theatre and this time my partner was ill so it was just me and the consultant. I learned so much more and I felt more ready to ask questions and be more relaxed. The consultant did remark that he quite enjoyed my company as some of the students that has shadowed him have been very quiet and boring...and not keen/interested at all. It was neat hearing that from a consultant - I didn't think I was overly keen but I guess I was just enjoying my time on my placement. I did have a lot of fun. I have to admit, prior to this paediatrics placement I was pretty sure I would not specialize in paediatrics but to be honest, after one week of shadowing and finding out so much about it, I just might reconsider paediatrics. It is amazing seeing such small babies who are critically ill, and with medical technology, their disorders can be corrected and these babies can live a full life. Truly fascinating. One thing that hangs on my mind about going into paediatrics is the stress of doing surgery on such small bodies. One wrong move can send everything into a nosedive. Surgery on children is so delicate and some of these kids probably have only lived for a few weeks! But again, I found paediatrics fascinating and I think I might apply for another placement in paediatrics in third year. Just maybe.
To be honest, this two week placement was mainly for us to learn how to take patient histories and to just see how a hospital works. Some of my friends hated it and thought it was a waste of their two weeks. Some people did not mind it. And some were like me: thoroughly enjoyed it. I personally think that I took away quite a bit from this experience and it will be an experience that will stick with me for the rest of my career. I never had the opportunity to visit hospitals or watch a surgery. It was my first time and it really gave me a kick up the rear end and certainly turned my motivation level up a notch to do medicine. For others, I have heard it actually shot down their motivation to become a doctor and some people are now reconsidering whether or not medicine is right for them. Scary how it can easily go either way from one two week experience. I experienced quite a bit: ward rounds, clinics, paperwork, surgeries, etc...pretty much the life of a doctor. I found all parts of it interesting. Yes there were some boring parts but that comes with every job and every career. It is not fun and games 24/7. There will be parts that is boring and repetitive. But I really don't mind. I also got to say that after placements I really am starting to think what I want to go into for specialties. I know it is a bit early to start thinking about it, but it does not hurt to do some planning/thinking. I feel like I am strongly leaning towards specializing in surgery. I feel that I really want to be in the operating theatre and I like being on my feet. I have this fascination to be able to diagnose and fix things. Makes me feel more complete. Definitely this will be something I will be thinking about for the next four years and definitely will seriously thinking about specialties once I go into hardcore placements starting in third year.
Currently I'm on my final unit of the year. We have gone through cardiovascular and respiratory. Now we're covering GI and Liver. Scary to know that exams are just around the corner though. After sorting out my notes the other day, I was a bit shocked at how much I have learned in the last 7 months. I have two 2.5" binders stuffed full of notes from lectures. Slightly worried about the amount of stuff I have to study. But I think it'll come quite easy as I am interested about these things and I'll feel a bit more motivated to study. Some of these topics have been quite interesting. So far, I have enjoyed the cardiovascular unit the most. I really felt like I understood most of the stuff and have a strong interest for it. I found myself wanting to know more and more motivated to read up on it. Hmmm.
What has been annoying me lately has been histology. I am a bit worried as it is hard and you look at microscopic samples stained with H&E. Our lecturer says that we should be past the "pink and blue blobs" stage and should start recognizing things, but I still see pink and blue blobs. Yeah some stuff I recognize but I'm scared that everyone else is seeing stuff clearly while I'm still going like "yeah...blue blob...oook...". A bit worried about this for exams so I know this Easter break I'm going to work on my histology so I can at least pass the exam.
In general university life is still great. Getting a bit busier now. Had like 3 essays/assignments due within like two weeks. Lots of reflection from our placements. My friends think that they have done so much reflecting, all they can do now when they sit around is reflect. But I guess it is something you need in order to learn. I'm sure they teach/drill us to reflect for a good reason. I don't mind reflecting...actually if I hated reflecting I wouldn't even be typing up in this blog. It is nice to look back on what you have done and what you have learned from it. Initially you don't see it, but once you take some time and think about it - yeah some of the stuff that you experience is quite handy. I know once placements were over I thought I didn't learn anything and it was just shadowing (stalking) doctors around. After doing my reflection I really appreciate the placement and it definitely gave me a lot of motivation to work hard.
However, lately I feel like there is a chip on my shoulder. All my friends have not been acting like normal especially after placements. My friends claim that I'm not acting normal after placements too. I think it is the thing in the back of our head going like: "Eeeek exams in 9 weeks!". Scary close. I think we're all a bit stressed and working a hell lot harder than usual. We are all medics and we got in for a reason. They don't accept a bunch of lazy people. When we need to we can work like horses and get a lot done. Starting to see this now and I feel like I definitely turned it up a gear in terms or working. Finding myself more tired than usual, but I have been getting a lot of work done. Give and take. Sometimes you got to make sacrifices such as less time hanging with friends, or having less night outs. Speaking of night outs...I haven't been out since the CNY party in February. Jeebus. I don't think I'll be going out anytime soon either. There is a light at the end of the tunnel...after exams will be summer! And that means I can go out as much as I want?
Work hard. Play harder.