Saturday, January 28, 2012


Interesting and short week of paediatrics. Had Monday off as I was in for 9-5 lectures. Tuesday..can't remember what happened...obviously nothing exciting as I would remember. I was on-call again on Wednesday so I was in the hospital from 8:45am - 9pm. It was also my SHO's last day and to be honest I think he was really great. Probably the few doctors that really made us medical students feel very welcomed and a part of the team. He's also really good at teaching too. Really smart dude. As a medical student, the biggest worry is being left out from the team. It's already nerve-racking to step into an unfamiliar environment and have no clue what you're supposed to do, so when a doctor welcomes you and teaches - you feel much more at ease and it really makes a huge difference to your experience at the hospital.  It was also nice that he could remember our names and it really helps with making us feel welcomed. Great thing about this SHO is that I understood him. I knew when to bother him and when not to. And it seems like he too knew what I was like. Seriously, some of you may think I'm really hard working, but I am definitely not the hardest working student to have graced medical school. In fact, I'm quite lazy (blushes). It was interesting how my SHO could tell that there are times where I don't want to do anything and he lets me be. It was like we were on the same page so it was good we had this mutual understanding.

Took quite a few "tea breaks" during my on-call so I got to talk about life as a doctor with the SHO as the ward wasn't too busy either. It was eye-opening. But the conversation soon led to a massive "DOH!" moment. Out of no where I was asked: "You don't like Paediatrics very much do you..or this attachment in general right?" I was actually left speechless. My face was probably a mix of a dead pan with a "DOH" moment. Secretly inside...I haven't really been enjoying this placement very much as in general I'm not very interested in Medicine. I really miss going to theatres and watching surgeries as I find it much more interesting and exciting. I have tried my best to put on an enthusiastic/keen face during this placement, BUT apparently it is fairly obvious I don't really like paediatrics. Another interesting bit is that the SHO could tell what I wanted to do in the future. Haven't told him what I was interested in and he randomly was like: "You're definitely going to do surgery. It's written all over you." And for some of the followers of this blog, you probably know I want to do Orthopaedic Surgery in the future so it was nice that people can see I want to do surgery. On top of that, the day after, another doctor went up to me and was like "You don't like Paeds very much do you. It's like written all over your face." Cue another "Doh!" moment. I even asked if it was that obvious and everyone around me was like "Yes." probably means my supervisor/consultant can also tell I'm not really enjoying the attachment. Honestly though, I'm not HATING it, but I don't love it either. I'm quite indifferent about it and I do realize I'm quite awkward around kids as I don't know what to do with them. Guess it's something I have to work on...and I am trying quite hard though...guess that's what matters.

Next week there will be new SHOs starting on the job and meaning starting back at square one with trying to get on with the new doctors. Life is always full of changes and you just have to keep adapting. Also being a medical student you constantly have to remind yourself that you're at the bottom of the ladder and you really have to work hard to get noticed. Note to self: Stop making it so obvious that I don't like kids.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Long day - On-call.

So it is week 2 of my paediatric placement. Now I'm getting to know the doctors on the ward much better and they seem more keen to teach us. Even if they see something vaguely interesting, he or she will come and tell us to take a look. I was on-call on Wednesday and what a long day. Got in at 8:45am and didn't get home until 10pm. I was intending to leave at 8pm as I do have to drive back home as I do not stay in the hospital accommodation.  Day started off with a ward round (usual). Saw a few interesting patients, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Managed to see a Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. To be looks pretty horrible. Essentially Stevens Johnson is where you get really red eyes and blisters all around your mouth and oral mucosa. You can also get blisters elsewhere in your body...including your genitalia........yeah. Anyways it doesn't look pleasant and obviously the patient was in quite a bit of discomfort as he could not really eat any solid food. Then went to clinic after lunch where we saw pretty general stuff. Ear infections, constipation, diarrhoea, etc. Got to play with a few of the kids that came in/working on my "playing with children" skill.

I don't have any younger siblings so I personally am not really used to playing with young children. I am still quite apprehensive about playing with kids as I don't really know what to do with them. I mean I think I'm good at making faces as so far I have been able to make the kids laugh by making faces. In terms of toys....I try and just pick up whatever  I see and hand it to them...which they quickly put to the side/throw it to the side. Had a few quizzical looks from babies...which is quite adorable...and pretty funny. Sometimes they just look so confused even you get confused yourself! So clinic lasted for about 3 hours and I did get my bum grilled to a burnt toast by the consultant. Non-stop questions. I asked my consultant a question and he proceeded to ask my question back to me! I'm sure I gave him several blank looks. I'm alright with being put on the spot to answer questions, but it still gets my heart rate up. Luckily the consultant is very relaxed and nice so I knew he only asked to help me learn instead of trying to make me feel dumb....not like any consultant would have that sort of intention (sarcasm). Nice thing about being quizzed is that you do remember things much better. I did learn quite a few things.

Then the ward went dead. There was nothing to do. I literally was wandering around in circles looking for patients to talk to or something to do, but most of the patients I saw in the morning have been discharged. I sat around at the nurse's/doctor's station and swiveled in my chair. Then my registrar who is on-call with me...started getting several bleeps. Literally 5 patients walked in at the same time right after dinner. So I got to work clerking the patients in and helping the registrar out with some stuff. Did learn how to take blood from a baby. A pretty pain-staking process. You essentially prick the heel of the baby with a device and you let the blood drip out and catch it in the can imagine this can take awhile depending on how fast the blood drips out/how cooperative the baby is.

As earlier stated...I was planning to leave at 8pm, but because suddenly all the patients decided to show up at the same time...I ended up getting held back. I didn't want to leave midway through clerking so I told myself I can leave after clerking and presenting the cases to the registrar. At around 9pm I was finally finished and made my way home. Got home...showered...and then passed out on my bed. And up again next day for 9am. As you can guess....I had a lot of difficulty waking up. Plus the prospect of needing to drive for about an hour was not helping. Either way....thankfully this week kind of picked up and I am starting to get much more teaching from the doctors and I'm starting to get along with the doctors. Starting to feel like I'm a part of the team. It's a nice feeling.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Paediatrics - Week 1

Wow this week was LONG. First started the week with a whole day of introductory lectures from 9-5. Then on Tuesday it was the start of our placement and the start of long drives early in the morning. Got to the peripheral hospital and the minute I stepped into the Children's Unit, I knew something wasn't right. In first year I had a placement in Paediatrics and you could hear children screaming/crying from outside in the hallway. This was dead quiet. There were no doctors to be seen. We met in the doctor's room and soon all the doctors arrived and did a handover. The reason for the quietness of the ward? We only had 3 patients on the ward and another patient was coming in later in the day. I mean the doctors are all really nice though. All of them are also really keen in teaching as well. They did mention that the lack of patients is common so we do have to be proactive.

We are expected to do 7 on-calls in our entire attachment (7 weeks). So it would make out to be 1 on-call per week. I did my on-call on Friday which meant I was in from 9am-10pm. What a long day. However, I managed to clerk in several patients and I was definitely learning. Also in the middle of the week I got to do baby checks. This is where the doctor would check over a newborn baby making sure he/she is healthy and ready to go home. Some of the babies were so cute; however, after all the baby checks, I feared crying babies. Every time I hear a baby cry, I flinch a bit. Also the funny bit is that almost every baby we checked, the baby decided to leave a present for us in his/her nappy. Lovely. Guess that's what you get in paediatrics. Cute babies and stinky diapers.

Paediatrics is definitely interesting, but the lack of patients in our hospital is really taking a toll on me as I do find myself standing around doing nothing. I also find myself getting bored quite often. Unfortunately there isn't much to talk about for this week. It has been overall quite dull. Not a lot of banter either on the ward. Guess not every placement will be fun. Hopefully next up will pick up. I mean at least I'm starting to get to know the doctors quite well and they are very welcoming. 6 more weeks. Yay....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Clinical Specialty Placements

So tomorrow I will be starting clinical specialty placements. I will be on Paediatrics for 6 weeks. I am kind of nervous for it as I don't know what to expect. I was placed in Paediatric Surgery in first year (which by the way is still my most memorable and fun time I have had on placement), but  I was only on the attachment for 1 week. I'm pretty sure it'll be a completely different ball game as obviously the consultants will expect much more knowledge. I have been placed in a peripheral hospital so hello to 1 hour drives each way. Should be interesting...hopefully the weather holds up to make my drive less stressful.

To best honest, I am alright with kids. I don't LOVE kids so I'm not uber excited to be surrounded by them. But who knows, in first year I was really inspired by my first attachment and saw some really interesting things. At one point I was thinking about maybe even specializing in Paediatric Surgery. Hopefully this will be a good experience and I will be able to learn loads as the hospital is much smaller so the doctors will have more time to teach.

9 am introductory lectures tomorrow until 4pm, then on Tuesday I'll be going to the peripheral hospital. Really hoping this will be a good attachment. More updates will come in the week!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life of an International Student.

Winter holiday is coming to an end and it literally blew by. First came Christmas. Next thing you know it was New Year's eve. Then we welcomed a new year - 2012. I celebrated these festivities with my family and knowing that this is probably the last Christmas/New Year I will spend back at home before I graduate really gave us the urgency to do as much as we could this winter holiday. Ate lots of good food and did quite a bit of shopping. Really tried my best to take in as much of home as much as I could. Also tried my best to spend as much time as I could with my family. I really don't know when is the next time I'm coming back home. It is a really sad thought. School is getting busier and I am getting shorter holidays.

In a blink of an eye I will be heading to the airport to fly back to England. I hate going to the airport and saying "goodbye". Tears my heart every time.  It will never get easy. It is really hard to see your parents sad to see you leave. Sometimes I wonder if going to study thousands of miles away from home a good choice. Unlike local students, I can't just spontaneously decide to go home for the weekend. Home is in a different country thousands of miles away. Thinking about it, international students make huge sacrifices to come to England to study. So food for thought: when parents of international students come to visit, don't tease them.  Sometimes flying back home isn't an option so the next best thing is for parents to come visit. Think about the sacrifices we make for a better education and the opportunity to study things that may not be available in our home countries.

Life of an international student is not easy.