8 April 2019
I'm currently in my first year studying Medicine at ARU. We start our placements in November so we have exposure to patients and clinical environments almost right away. Personally, I love being in the hospital and seeing what I'm striving towards (which is particularly helpful when I can't find the motivation to revise!).
In ARU, our curriculum is split into 'blocks' based around the systems in the body and we move to a different placement at the start of each new block. In first year we look at the respiratory, cardiovascular (CV) and gastrointestinal (GI) systems. We spend an afternoon each week with consultants in hospital getting a chance to practice the skills we have learnt in uni like taking a patient’s history. At the end of the first year we also have a four week placement block.
On top of this, we also get five days a year in a GP surgery to get an insight into community medicine. I absolutely love my GP surgery and have got to know all the staff. On our third visit, our doctor invited us on a home visit. Seeing a patient in their home environment was really eye opening and a world apart from hospital medicine. Our doctor let us take the history, vital signs and listen to the breath and heart sounds of the patient which was so useful.
Even though skills like history taking may seem straight forward, I can't emphasise enough how essential it is to get practice in with real patients as it is COMPLETELY different to practicing on your friends. I remember my first time taking a history from a real patient and having no idea what they were saying and being totally thrown off. But that's exactly what practice is for! Now I'm not nervous asking patients to speak up or repeat themselves.
Last week was the first week of GI placement and I got to see two surgeries. The most interesting was a 3D keyhole surgery. After getting into scrubs and a cap, I was directed into a low-lit operating theatre where our consultant was using a camera and grasp to remove the patient’s rectum, all through a small hole in their tummy. I looked at the screen the surgeon was using to see inside the patient’s body, and it was blurry. At that point I was handed 3D glasses and (to my amazement) the contents of the patients abdomen jumped out of the screen as if they were right in front of me.
This week on placement, by coincidence, we saw the same patient on ward rounds a week after his surgery. He was sitting up smiling and chatting to us and seeing this full circle really reminded me what all our hard work is about.
For me, placement is definitely one of the highlights of the course. I feel so lucky having these opportunities only six months into being a medical student and having consultants who are so eager to see the new med school succeed and want to do everything they can to help us.