Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quick Update.

As some of you have noticed...I have disappeared for a few weeks. I do apologise for the sudden disappearance. After my A&E placement, I pretty much dashed off to the airport and was off for holiday. So now I am back and will be starting my next rotation of specialties in a few days. I start with Opthalmology and ENT for 2 weeks. 

Stay tuned for some new adventures! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Audit Project: Start to Finish.

May 2012 - I started on my first audit project which was in Orthopaedics. I technically started planning this audit project with my supervisor back in January 2012. When we first discussed this project, the project was just intended to be a good learning experience for me and I pretty much saw it as something to keep me occupied during my Orthopaedics placement. I don't think any of us really thought of going far with this project. It was essentially a "we'll see how it goes" kind of thing. Admittedly, I didn't take the project that seriously either. I spent maybe an hour here and there in medical records. Our sample group size wasn't very big either so I wasn't exactly pressured to spend hours and hours to collect all the data. To be fair the audit project took about 3 weeks to complete (as in gather all the data, come up with numbers, and type up a rough report to hand in). As you can probably see now, I didn't take it very seriously. As I started getting results and numbers from the audit, my supervisor began encouraging me to think about submitting it to national/international conferences as he believes people might be interested in our results. I remember actually laughing off what he said and told myself: "That'll be the day!". Eventually he started to sound a lot more serious about it and continuously encouraged me to submit an abstract to conferences.

Because I had typed up a report (albeit quite roughly), I at least have a base for an abstract. An abstract is essentially a 250-300 word summary of your project. It would include an introduction, aim, methods, results, and a conclusion. I took a sentence or two from each of my sections in my report and put them together and there we go: I've got my 250-300 word abstract ready for submission. I submitted an abstract to 1 national and 1 international conference. As I submitted it, I still told myself: "Why would anyone want to select MY project? It'll be a joke." 3 months after submitting my abstract, I heard back from the conferences. I was accepted to do a poster presentation at a pretty "prestigious" (apparently) national conference. I couldn't believe it. I was over the moon. I mean I never expected to get anything from this project. Like I earlier said, it was a bit of a "keep me busy" project that I didn't take seriously. You can imagine I wasn't very confident about it and really truly didn't think I'll get anything from it. I even told my supervisor in the unlikely event of me getting anything out of this project, it will be a massive bonus. I heard back about the national presentation in December 2012 and in about 2 months I had to churn out a poster. Where do I even start?!

I have never done a poster before. I mean I presented my project a few months earlier at a local audit meeting so I had a powerpoint presentation of my poster, but not an actual POSTER. I asked around and was given a template. To be honest, I was still very lost. Because it was my holiday when I had to work on my poster, I pretty much sat myself down in front of my computer and spent the whole day making the poster. I used powerpoint to make the poster and after many hours of continuous work, I had my first draft for my poster. I remember sitting back and looking at my computer screen with a large grin. I can finally see my project "come to life". All that work, I can finally see it. After many drafts and sending my drafts to my supervisor, I believe I had my final draft. 2 weeks before my conference, I made some last minute changes to the images and minor adjustments and sent it for printing.

"Your poster is ready to pick up." - the graphics team had called. It was my day off and I quickly rushed out to go see my poster. When I saw the poster I just could not believe it. My work in true physical form. I obviously took a minute to be a bit of a narcissist and admire my work. I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and joy. Just looking back at the long journey, I just could not believe it.

Then it was time to go to the 3 day conference. Poster rolled up and secured in a tube. No one has seen it other than me so my supervisor and other surgeons who helped haven't seen it. We all met up and went to the venue to register and put up the poster. Just walking into the venue and seeing everyone there (250+ people) and 95% of them were Registrars or Consultants in Orthopaedics, it was actually quite intimidating. It didn't help that I looked BY FAR the youngest in the meeting and 1 of the handful of women there as obviously Orthopaedics is quite male dominated. When I took the poster out to put up, while my supervisor and other doctors stood around, it was nice to see my name as the first author and the title of my project standing out among the other posters in the hall. I got a pat on the back and was congratulated. It has finally happened. My first national poster presentation. Throughout the day I was introduced to many consultants from around England and met some pretty famous ones who I have only heard about. It was such a great and new experience. When it was finally time to leave, I left my poster with my supervisor.

A few days ago I received an email from admin in Orthopaedics saying that I should go visit the Orthopaedics Department. I kind of dismissed it and didn't pop around until yesterday. As I walked down the hall in the department, there it was - my poster. It was displayed up on the wall, which registrars and consultants like to call: "The Hall of Fame". I stopped in front of my poster to be a bit of a narcissist again and admire my work.  

What this project has taught me is that if you work hard, "the sky's the limit". The opportunities are infinite - you just need to go look for it and grasp onto it when it passes by.

So what's next for me? Because my project was a lot more successful than we all thought, I am now hoping to submit a more polished report for publication. I mean these projects are quite fun, and a good experience so I am in the midst of planning with another consultant to do another project with a much larger sample group and on a different topic. After going to the conference, I am very motivated to keep doing projects and working hard. Who knows where my projects will take me next? America? Canada? Asia?

"The sky's the limit."

A&E Night Shifts.

Many apologies for the lack of updates...A&E is proving to be a lot busier than first thought. My first week was a bit shaky as I started off with a week of night shifts. I really did not know what to expect. I made sure I sorted out my sleeping schedule and got plenty of sleep right before my shift. No matter how many placements I go on, the first day will always be slightly awkward. Literally stood around for a good hour by the doctor's desk waiting for a friendly doctor to say hi and welcome my group and I. Nope. Eventually we stopped a doctor and was quickly told: "Get stuck in! There is the box of the patient notes. Take a history and stalk the box and see which doctor picks up the patient you saw." Was quite perplexed and shrugged and just "got stuck in". Eventually attached myself to a doctor and found myself with a list of jobs, which included putting cannulas in and taking bloods. Just coming off from Anaesthetics proved useful, as I was still confident in putting in cannulas and was popping them in with ease. Though not having another pair of hands to help like we do in the anaesthetics room in theatre was proving to be quite tricky (and messy). Eventually it got to about 4am, and you notice yourself starting to lapse in concentration. I was definitely starting to miss veins and needed to "fish around" before getting into a vein when inserting a cannula. What's really annoying is that no matter how late I eat my dinner, I will get hungry at 4am. Luckily the doctors were really chilled and are always prepared. The registrar brings food for the team on night shifts so when A&E was calming down, we all sat around and snacked. Thankfully my first night wasn't too busy and the doctors told us to leave at around 5:30am. It was eerily quiet when leaving the hospital. And the roads were even quieter.

Anyways the next few days of nights progressively got quieter and quieter which was quite "abnormal". Just my luck. Didn't manage to see as many patients and didn't get to feel that useful/productive. At least the nights treated me well! Then I had to start my weekend night shifts. Saturday night...should be interesting! Swear the first 5 patients I saw had "intoxicated +++" written at the top of their notes. It was actually very frustrating to try and get histories out from them or their friends. What was a bit shocking was that there were students coming in from other cities to experience the night life here and end up getting completely plastered (and ending up in A&E). I personally would never go to a foreign city and get absolutely plastered. I guess I would be a bit more "aware" in a foreign city as the last place I want to end up in is in A&E. But of course, everyone has their own version of "fun" and I'm just a boring...old...medical student. Other than the non-stop flow of "intoxicated +++" people, it was a fairly uneventful night. Didn't really get to do very much either.

All in all, night shifts weren't actually that bad! But I do think I got off quite lightly as my friends who were on night shifts said they saw a few cardiac arrests and a few trauma cases. Oh well.

I'll try and make a few more posts this weekend. Need to catch up! Apologies again!