'Remember to bring your duvet. They have plastic blankets there'
'Remember to bring all the food you can, there's no shops around.'
'Remember to bring...etc'
'Oh ya, there's no wifi in your room.'
|Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, King's Lynn|
Now that I am on the last day of my posting, I can testify, what they warn us about...are all sadly, very true.
I remember on the first night we arrived in November last year, it was super cold and foggy, and there weren't any soul outside the train station. Everything's dark and quiet in this coastal town. We took a taxi to the hospital and lugged our luggages and duvets around the hospital to get keys to our accommodation, which is right beside the hospital.
When I first entered my room, I thought it was quite good. I mean, it's basic - a bed with a pillow and a plastic duvet, a desk, a desk lamp, a sink and a cupboard. That's it. It's clean at least, I thought. We don't pay for this accommodation because it's covered under our tuition fee. But for the amount of tuition fee, international students pay, I am not sure this is worth the money. But since I am on scholarship and am not paying for this, I guess I have no right to complain. BUT THERE WASNT A CONSISTENT WIFI OMG. The wifi keeps cutting off every 5 minutes and my phone's 3G was burning through very quickly.
Life in this hospital is pretty boring. It's like you're on a camp for 1 month. There's no proper wifi, there's no shop nearby (the closest is Tesco, which is 30 minutes walk away) and you have a very small group of friends from your year. Unlike that in other regional hospitals where you get big group of friends, we only have 6 students from our year, at any point. In summary, you're pretty much isolated. All you can do (if you dont have 3G) is...to read a book/clerk a patient/pester the docs to let you do something.
|Library where I spent most my time when there's no wifi in my room|
|Found around hospital. I simply can't understand/empathise with smokers.|
|A random, one and only turbine in town, right beside the hospital|
The art of asking for what you need/want
There were bad times, especially in the beginning, when there was no wifi and I could not understand any medicine or the art of persuading someone to teach you/let you do something. But actually, as the year went on, we got pretty top-notch teaching around here. Yes, we did not have much supervision throughout the year, apart from the last 2 weeks, but we had pretty good teaching sessions. They rarely get cancelled. And when they went on, they are usually very helpful for us. The consultants are usually the ones we will later on shadow in their clinics. They are usually very kind and are very willing to teach if you ask them questions. (If you dont, obviously they will concentrate on their job and ignore your existence.) Although I must say, some may think you are absolutely brainless, especially when I was trying to help them clerk patients during the Junior Doctors' strike days. I remember one consultant being completely appalled at the way I prescribed on the drug chart...'But I was never taught about this before, at all! and I have never seen it done before! Can you teach me how to do it?' Only then he realised I am not a finalist. From that day onwards, he started being kind to me and taught me a lot of things. Slowly, I started to realise that many of the consultants thought we are final years and thus, expected us to be very independent in our learning and to know what to do on the wards. Then only I know the importance of letting the docs know what level am I in whenever I shadow them. The easiest way being
'What is this...?'
'Uh...uh....maybe it's...I don't know.'
'What do you mean you don't know?! Which year are you in?'
'This is my first ever medical rotation. I am in Year 4.'
Since learning that, I have learned to make my time on the wards more productive. And if I am continuously being ignored for 15 minutes, I learned to just quietly slip away,
I have also learned how to pester the staff nurses to let me do practical skills so I can get them to sign me off. Some of them are super friendly, some of them just can't be bother with another medical student. But as long as you supervise my work and sign me off at the end, I am eternally grateful to you, nurse. :p
Oh, and I love Wednesdays! It's the day we learn practical skills, with just 3 of us and our very 'fun-loving', enthusiastic trainer will let us do simulations on management of acutely ill patients on SimMan. Apart from that, she also entertains us with a weekly dose of rant about her ex-husband and life on the farm. It's really quite entertaining I must say.
I guess this is the perk of being in a small hospital. You know every one after you've rotated through all medicine, surgery, pharmacy and A&E. It's nice to walk around the hospital and have doctors and nurses greet each other in the morning. And obviously, you know people from your own year very well. There are only 3 of us, to stare at each other, for a month. We depend on each other to survive, stay sane and eat fish and chips together.