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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!