What I have learned so far (part 2)

This is part 2 of what i have learned so far.

You must love what you do.

If you do not love what you do when volunteering, especially when you are on the ward, then it will cost the patients their care. Here is why. When treating and caring for patients you will do it in a team. If you are not approachable due to your attitude because you do not enjoy the work you will not be asked to help out the staff in vital roles this will mean that that patients will suffer. Also, if you are not approachable to the patients then they are less likely to ask for your help in simple things like going to the toilet, again this effects their care.

Been able to adapt.

The NHS is under a lot of pressure. The ward that I volunteer on can be short of staff and the beds are always full. If anything unexpected should happen you will not just be a meal time volunteer but you may be asked to look after a bay for a few  minutes. Or, you could be handing out meals and a patients burst into tear, you now have to be their friend. Been on a ward comes with many jobs that do no match your job description but been able to adapt is essential.

 

Understanding the staff are all human to.

The staff ( including yourself) are not just nurses, doctors or HCA. They are Mums, Dads, Brothers and Sisters. This means that they may not be on the top of their game because of a family issue or because a patient reminds them of a terrible past experience. This means that you must look out for each other, asking them how they are and keeping each other safe. Understanding that we are all human brings the team together and more important keeps the patients and the staff safe.

What I have learned so far (part 1)

I have been volunteering on a hospital ward for several month now and I think it is time that I reflected on the whole experience so far. So, here are the top 2 (out of 5) things that I have learned so far.

 

Your patients must trust you.

Over these months, patients have shared many of their traumatic experiences with me. I am very grateful that these patients trusted me enough to share these experiences. I have heard about patients sadly loosing their loved ones and for some, all of their friends and family have passed leaving them alone.  It is a honour that patients feel like they can trust me enough to talk about these very upsetting experience. The best thing about listening to the patients when they are telling me their stories is their relieved faces after we spoke. Spending several weeks in hospital leaves the patients with not much to do therefore they tend to reflect on their lives. The reflection can cause anxiety and upset and it is important that they trust you so they can feel much better.

Communication is key.

I know you hear that communication is key in medicine and any other caring profession but instead of just hearing about how important communication is, you should experience it.  People vary, there are some outgoing people and some quite people, there are also some aggressive people and some angry people. This been said, the NHS treats and caters for everyone therefore as a medical profession you are expected to be able to connect with different types of  patients. I was only able to communicate with people who are outgoing and happy however whilst volunteering I have learned how to communicate with different types of people. For example, there is a male patient who is known for his rudeness and aggressiveness, most of the HCA and nurses avoid him because of his attitude. Over the weeks since he was admitted I have gradually been building up a connection. I have had many lengthy conversations with him and it turns out he was only acting up because he didn’t want a care home to take him as he enjoyed the company of the hospital staff. When I started volunteering I would have never even dreamed of talking to this type of patient, especially in the way in which I did. I would have ran a mile.

 

 

 

 

Learn to listen to your body!

Listening to your body seems easy but the signs and symptoms of your body going into overdrive can be easily missed.

As an A level student and an aspiring medic I have a lot on my plate at the moment, with the UKCAT, A levels, Volunteering as well as gym and kickboxing. It is a lot to juggle.

Each task above is mentally and physically exhausting and to do this day in day out it  can cause a lot of problems.

I have recently ” burnt out” and was unable to even concentrate in lesson. But I didn’t know the signs of been burnt out.

Here are the symptoms I had and what you may experience:

  • Unable to progress at any exercise: 

As a intermediate lifter I should be gaining weight on the scales or gaining more weight on my lifts, I found I wasn’t doing either and I felt weaker and sorer than I usually do.

  • Feeling demotivated:

I often don’t mind revising for a long period of time and I always feel up to going to the gym but for the past few weeks I have felts demotivated to go to the gym and lift. I also felt demotivated to do my usual revision sessions and read a head in the textbook

  • Not feeling refreshed why you wake up:

I usually get around 7-8 hours of sleep and usually I feel fine, but lately I felt that I was tired and groggy in the morning. This was very unusual for me and was the main reason why I noticed by burn out

  • Finally, Short attention span:

My attention span was terrible, I couldn’t concentrate in lessons or when I was revising, I would find myself often day dreaming which was very unusual.

  • What I do to prevent this:

 

  • Get enough Sleep
  • Have a social life
  • Do extra curricular activities
  • Have regular breaks
  • Do not over do revision
  • Keep a good balanced diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Do not do too much exercise

Overall do everything is moderation and in balance, if you do this you shouldn’t be burnt out.

 

De

 

Disclaimer: Please note the signs above is not an exhausted list of all the signs of a burn out and are strictly all the signs I encountered. Please remember we are all different and therefore we will experience different signs. Also all the prevention are what I found helped me and it may not help or benefit you. Feel free to drop a comment or a private message if you want to talk about it!

 

 

 

Do not give up!

Medicine is sooooo hard to get in and getting in the first time isn’t likely. However there are so many pathways getting into medicine.

This is my plan.

My GCSE’s are good enough to get into medicine however they are not the best! So I have started to look at universities that rate the UKCAT higher than others. This will give me a second chance and help me to compete using my strengths.

 

If my UKCAT isn’t good enough to get to the interview stage then I will look at my A levels. If I get the minimum required grades then I will probably;y take a year off and study for the UKCAT and gain more medical experience. If I get a poor UKCAT and  poor A level results then I want to do a degree in Paramedic science and then apply for the 4 year graduate medicine.

 

I am sharing this because there will be many people who get discouraged that they didn’t get into medicine. Just keep at it!

Get to know your patient!

I believe I have finally settled into my volunteering role, I feel more comfortable when I’m on the ward and I feel welcome in the team I work with.

More importantly, I feel like I have really developed my communication skills. Today I spoke with a patient for over an hour. She told me all her ups and downs in her life, all the amazing experiences she has encountered and what she learned from them. Unfortunately, her health hasn’t been on her side therefore she has had many encounters with a variety of doctors. She told me what makes a good doctor and what makes a great doctors, she also told me what makes a bad doctor!

She told me a good doctor will cure you or treat you, but a great doctor will stay in your corner when times get hard. She said a great doctor is a friend and someone who you can tell everything to.

She is right!

If a patient only tells you half the story you (as a doc) only receives  half of a patients history. When trying to diagnose a patient with half of the facts it can be unsafe and inefficient. But lets say you do diagnose the patient but it is time to treat them. There are several options. The most effective one to treat the condition may not be the most effective to treat the patient.

DKA

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a complication concerning diabetes.

It starts off with the lack of the hormone insulin been produced by the pancreas.  Insulin’s function is to act as a bridge which allows glucose to diffuse into the cell. The insulin will bind to the receptor and allow the glucose to go into the cell.

Now the glucose is in the cytoplasm it will undergo glycolysis and then it will enter into the matrix of the mitochondria where the kreb cycle will occur which produces ATP which is then hydrolysed to produce energy. This is the function of how glucose can be used for energy in the body in a normal person.

Now in diabetic ketoacidosis the pancreas cease to produce insulin and therefore the glucose will not be allowed to enter the cell. If there is no glucose entering the cell there is no energy been produced. However the cell still has fats that it can break down in the cell for cellular respiration in matrix of the mitochondria. This provides the body with energy however the products are also ketone bodies.

 

The ketone bodies can cause metabolic acidosis.  One ketone body is called acetone. When a patient is in DKA they may present with a fruity breath. This is due to the acetone in there blood.

Another interesting thing is that drinking alcohol can temporairy cause the pancreas to produce insulin and therefore cause the same process to occur. This is called Alcoholic ketoacidosis.

Sources:

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/diabetes-mellitus-and-disorders-of-carbohydrate-metabolism/alcoholic-ketoacidosis

Life

Life is so essential.

Every life that surrounds you has a significant impact on you. You will only know how important they are when they are gone.

When someone dies, expected or unexpected, it’s effect is broad. It’s like dropping a pebble in a pond. The most energy (effect) will be in a small circle, this represents the close friends and family. The ripples in the middle will represent the friends and work colleagues of the loved one. Lastly the final ripples have the least energy and therefore represents the least impact. This impacts the people who only knew the individual.

I have just focused on effects of the person’s death but not the effects of the effects of the person dying. For example, a close friend of a loved one will have died causing their world to be turned upside down. This life changing experience will now cause ripples of it’s own with the friends and family of the loved one’s best friend. These ripples will continue on and on.

I know it seems very depressing but it is true and this truth is what motivates me to become a doctor. For someone who has experience these ripple and had to comfort others who have been in the same situation I understand the devastation this can cause.

When I first started to volunteer I met an end of life patient (someone who has signed a do not resuscitate order.) Overtime this patient has reduced the amount of food they intake each meal. Today they ate nothing. Just a few jelly beans. When I asked the family if they believed she was done they just nodded. They knew that it was getting closer and closer until she would pass. I saw the pre-ripples. The pre-ripples paralysed the family’s speech. I can only image what they are about to experience.

The effects of losing someone motivates me because i understand the effects of the effects. It will motivate me to do the best for every patient and person. Empathy is very important as it drives me to be the best person I can be and therefore be the best doctor I can be.

What do I actually do?

I haven’t really told you what I actually do at the hospital.

My title is ” meal time volunteer.”

The first thing I do when I enter the ward is to identify any barrier patients. Unfortunately these patients have an infectious disease and therefore I am unable to help these patients.

I then greet the staff on the ward. I find that it is important to greet the staff because I find that there are always new faces on the team.

I wash my hands,put on a apron and I start by cleaning the patients tables. I always smile and briefly talk to each patient (as long as they are not sleeping!)

I then select a patient to sit and talk with before the food is prepared, I find that talking to a patient helps me get into the mindset of my volunteering role and it keeps the patients happy.

Once the mealtime bell rings the whole ward will prepare for lunch time. NUH (Nottingham University Hospital) has protected meal time. This means that all routine medical care is stopped so we can focus on the mealtime. This allows the patients to not be disrupted.

I help by distributing the meals and deserts. I then will sit with a patient and encourage them to eat or I would do small jobs for the nursing staff that would help them out such as getting an extra ice cream pot.

I then will start to bring the trays in and collect the rubbish from lunchtime. After this I will either sit with a patient or I will head off to the bus stop.

I really enjoy what I do. It doesn’t seam like much but it does have a significant impact on the patients and the rest of the staff. I am glad I have the opportunity to do this weekly.  I encourage anyone who wants to do any medical careers to volunteer it will help you decide whether medicine is for you and it will help you develop your fundamental skills needed to interact with in a team and with patients.

Having a smile

It’s simple. Just smile!

A genuine smile can make a big impact on the people around you, it uplifts the mood and spirits of other.

It is really important to keep the environment around you a happy one. I found this to be more important in a medical setting such as a ward.

I always smile as much as i can when i pace up and down the ward. It keeps the nurses and HCAs happy to see me happy. This means they can provide  better care to the patients as they are happier. It also means that we all get along a lot better. It allows us all to have banter and it keeps the team happy.

It also helps the patients. The patients do not want to be stuck in a hospital bed for weeks. It is a very unpleasant experience. When i smile with the patients they normally smile back and it makes them happy. When it makes them happy it means that they are a lot easier to treat and care for. I volunteer on a elderly ward and most of the patients are immobile and bed bound because they are not strong enough to move around independently. This means that their quality of life is not the best. So, making the patients happy and smiling helps improve their quality of life and their experience.

The impact of a smile is underestimated.

Keep smiling!

 

 

 

 

Fitness new year resolution

I know this isn’t anything to do with medicine but i feel like I need to share my experience of my fitness journey. Especially how it is the new year.

 

I believe that when it comes to fitness, people often fail because they dont see their results fast enough. So here are 5 tips that I have learnt on how to build muscle and to stay on top of your fitness goal.

Figure out why:

I cannot stress this enough. Internal motivation will always triumph over external motivation. In other words, find out why you want to change your health and fitness. Is it because you want to stay fit and become a good example to your patients?, maybe it’s to impress someone or to improve yourself both mentally and physically. For me it was to improve myself mentally and physically. Pushing your body to it’s limit will allow you to improve yourself psychically  as well as  mentally. There is also the element of setting a good example to people around me and hopefully in the future inspire my patients to improve their health.

Don’t over complicate it:

The fitness world is becoming too much about business than it is about fitness. To make money many companies are selling their products as the best: buy the best protein, buy the best programme, buy the best meal plan. To help you overcome this, learn how to achieve your goal by reading scientific articles. To build muscle for a beginner is simple. Eat more calories than you burn so you have enough calories to build muscle, and progress with your exercise. If you’re benching 45kg one week for 3 sets for 5 reps, then you should aim to increase the amount of weight or increase the amount of reps. The progression will force your muscles to grow. Its that simple. ( It is that simple for a beginner but after a year or 2 you must change up your program and other factors)

Start small:

I know that the feeling of inspiration and motivation will want you to do everything at once: change up your diet completely, put yourself through big intense workouts. But, for the most part,this may not be the best thing! Focus on one thing at a time and take small steps. Instead of completely changing up your diet, why dont you swap white bread for brown bread or reduce the amount of sweets you eat a week. If you’re too strict you can make it seem impossible so you will give up.  With this said, you maybe the complete opposite. With the motivation at the high you maybe able to maintain your focus and stay consistent enough for you too see results. Many people say (me including) that once you start seeing results you will become addicted and you will never turn back!

Don’t be afraid to go to the gym:

I know many people who are afraid to go to the gym because they are scared of been humiliated in front of the whole gym. To be 100% honest they do not care! They do not care how much you are curling or benching. In fact many people who go to the gym would rather you go to them and ask them for advice. If you are really self conscious then there are other options. You can go to the gym with your friends or a family member. If not, then you can simply workout at home. Have no equipment? Its fine, use your body-weight to do push ups ect. We all have to start somewhere!

Don’t make excuses.

This is so simple but such a common mistake. “you coming gym bro?” “Nah, I am tired”

This is such a pitfall for many.I, myself fell into this trap. One day i felt really tired and i decided not to workout. I rested and went back to train the next day but i made the same excuse. On the second, third and fourth day it was the same excuse. The funny thing was i was getting 10 hours sleep a night. It was lack of will power. Like i said at the start. It is as much of a mental growth than it is physical. Overcoming mindsets like this one develops strength.

 

If you need  any help please message me or comment, i am happy to help.

 

Good luck!