A Week of Med School: Introduction to Clinical Learning

Hi friends, hope you’re all doing well! I thought I’d document this week of university since it was a good mixture of different things I’ve been doing.

We’ve not yet started our official placements for this year, so these first four weeks are mainly just to start becoming acclimatised to the wards (we go on wards once a week) and to get some teaching in about systems examinations and other clinical skills. We’ve also started TCD, which is how we’ll be learning content this year, and I spoke more about that in this post so go check that out to see what it involves.

Monday 12/10

A long day on the wards today! I’m based on a surgical ward with some other people from my group, and we see patients normally recovering from surgeries. Due to this one being a COVID-free ward, they’ve put patients in here from quite a few different departments, including orthopaedics, GI and urology.

We spent the morning taking some observations (heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, blood pressure) and took a few histories as well. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any doctors who weren’t busy, so we weren’t able to present our histories to anyone. During the afternoon, we chatted to the student nurse on the ward for ages, and took some more observations, as well as a blood glucose, which was the first time we got to practise on a patient.

When I got home, I watched a webinar from the university based around what’s going on with the course given the COVID situation, and a general update on year three and changes being made to assessments.

Honestly, after that is kind of a blur because I relaxed for a while, trying to wind down from my tiring day. When I finally got up to do some work in the evening, my friend messaged me asking if I wanted to go to Tim Hortons for a drive-through coffee and a chat, which obviously I don’t have the self-control to refuse, so I had a lovely evening catching up with her.

Autumn vibes on my way home from the hospital

Tuesday 13/10

I had the day off today, so I set it aside to mainly get all my TCD work done for the week. I will admit, I did sleep in until 11, which you’d think is setting me up for a bad day, but I would much rather get a good amount of sleep in, and work into the night, as opposed to struggling on little sleep, which is the worst thing for my productivity. I just find the late afternoon/evening time so nice to study in because it’s so peaceful at my house, and this is always the time I get my most intensive work done.

So, I spent the morning and afternoon slowly working through TCD. I had a bit of a lull at about 3pm when I felt super lazy and chilled for a few hours. When I got back to work, I did some preparation for my cannulation session tomorrow.

I watched the Great British Bake Off at eight, which is actually the only TV show I’ve been watching at the moment, and it holds a very important place in my heart. After that, I went on a quick Tesco trip with both my parents because we were all feeling like going on a walk and I wanted to buy some grocery items anyways.

Wednesday 14/10

Today was the day of webinars and the screen fatigue is so real! I had a skills session on cannulation in the morning, which was fun to try but I really need more practice before I can try it on real patients (we were using model arms). I got home just after 11, had breakfast and spent some downtime in bed, on my phone, because I knew I was going to be busy the rest of the day.

In the early afternoon I had clinical debrief, which is essentially a session with your tutor (a specially trained GP tutor) where you and your group talk about all sorts of things, though there’s a focus on the clinical experiences you have and the things you see with patients. We did a bunch of different stuff in today’s session, including having a discussion on an article that our tutor sent us, and going through a case step by step, picking out and ruling out differentials. It’s really so interesting, but it lasts just over two hours, so it can be a bit tiring, I think mostly because it’s over Zoom and there’s something so strangely dystopian about everyone sitting in their rooms alone every single week chatting to each other over screens.

When I finished, we needed to go pick out carpets since we’re getting our house recarpeted (spoiler alert: we didn’t manage to choose one) and we picked up some more groceries on the way. I feel like we go shopping more than we even consume food.

In the evening, I watched a webinar by the Royal Society on Medicine on the inequalities in end-of-life care, especially in BAME populations, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was extremely fascinating to hear about this topic and there’s something about BAME people passionately speaking on BAME issues that gives me so much hope for the future.

After that, I spent a good two hours on TCD, tying up loose ends here and there before I went to bed.

The webinar I watched this evening

Thursday 15/10

I had neurological exam teaching this morning, and the seemingly endless components of the neuro exam hit me like a ton of bricks; I really need to get on to practising these examinations regularly.

I got back home around 11:30am and pretty much just studied for another session we’re going to have tomorrow on capacity, consent and confidentiality. At 1pm we had another little webinar with some of the year three leads going over some key things about this year, alongside a Q&A, but this was a very quick one.

When I’d finished with that, I knew I should probably complete the TCD bits I had left, but I felt sleepy, so I decided to take a nap. I haven’t napped during the day in months because I’ve been trying to maintain a healthy routine, but a well-timed and well-placed nap can really change your whole day around.

I had a quick shower after my nap and spent the evening really getting my head around the different diseases we were covering in the TCD this week. Up until this point, they were all quite abstract conditions, but I managed to link them together and see it from a bigger picture, which was exactly the detail I was lacking.

Friday 16/10

I can’t lie, the days I don’t need to go to the hospital feel so good to me – must be the inherently lazy part of me speaking. I spent ages on my phone in bed when I woke up because I didn’t feel like getting up straight away.

When I did get up, I got ready for my first Zoom session of the day, which was TCD, and spent a bit of time before the session reading over my notes and searching up things that I was still unsure about. I actually really enjoyed TCD today, more so than I’ve done the past few sessions, probably because I’m getting more used to it as I wasn’t expecting to enjoy today’s topic more than the others.

My dad and I went on a quick run to the charity shop after TCD because we had some stuff at home that we’ve been meaning to donate for months now. I came home and chilled pretty much because I didn’t have anything else to do until my next Zoom session. That one was at 3pm and it was on capacity, consent and confidentiality.

From that point on, I was in full weekend mode and lazed around at home, doing some reading and spending some time in the garden despite how cold it was. In the evening I persuaded my parents to come to Lidl because I really wanted to buy sparklers and I had noticed them on the little Lidl leaflet we had at home, and after that we just ended up driving around for a bit.

My night was very chill, and I spent my time in bed on YouTube, which I think I deserved after such a long week, although I don’t really do this often.

That was my week this week! It was probably the busiest week I’ve had since starting university but next week is going to be even busier than this. I don’t mind that too much though, busy is a blessing after all. I hope your week has been good and you’re keeping healthy and safe.

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