Work experience

Oxford University┬áHospital – Orthopaedics

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a week doing work experience in Orthopaedics at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, both in Oxford. Here is a brief summary of what I did:

  • Ward rounds to see patients about to have surgery / having just undergone surgery
  • Sat in various clinics, from those with patients who may require orthopaedic surgery in the coming months to clinch with spinal bifida patients
  • Spent time with the cast team, watching how casts were put on and removed
  • Met parents with babies who had problems with their hips – had ultrasound scans, and potentially may have worn a harness to keep hips in correct position to allow ball and socket to form properly

I was surprised to find that I actually learnt a great deal to do with some of the science behind orthopaedics purely through observations, such as the technical terms for the various types of operations, the methods through which some conditions may be treated (one example being the Ilizarov frame which helps to grow bones in the lower leg), and finally just some of the hundreds of conditions which may require orthopaedic surgery to correct.

One of the best things about this work experience was watching the nurses and doctors interact with all range of patients and also their families. It was especially interesting in clinics to watch doctors conduct the same clinical examination on completely different patients, and watch how they adapted their tone of voice, language used and even their body language to suit the patients age and understanding, whilst all the time treating the patient with respect. I also observed how doctors were able to provide comfort to worried patients and families without giving them false hope – something I believe is incredibly important yet in some cases very difficult to achieve.

Additionally, seeing how much a patient’s quality of life could be improved, and also how much relief could be brought to an entire family through the help provided by the orthopaedics team was so inspiring, and has strengthened my desire to one day become a doctor, in the hope that I will be able to have such a positive impact on so many people’s lives. However, throughout this experience, one thing struck me as potentially the most important thing that I had learnt, which was that doctors are not miracle workers, and it may not always be possible to correct a condition, although often it is possible to significantly improve the patient’s quality of life, and bring them some comfort.

Overall, I found this an incredibly eye-opening experience which provided me with a unique insight into the workings of a hospital, and it has cemented my dream of one day becoming a doctor, so I would certainly encourage anyone else considering medicine as a career to at least have a look for work experience in a similar place, as you really don’t know what you are going to like until you try it!

Thanks for reading!


I spent this weekend in Nottingham University on Medsim course for year 11 and 12 students who are hoping to study university in the coming, so I am briefly going to write about what we did.

We did a number of things:

  • practised interacting with patients
  • clinical techniques part one (looking at ECG (Electro-cardiograms), ultrasound scanning, how to take blood pressure, triage and trauma, and ophthalmology)
  • clinical techniques part two (learning how to take blood, how to give an injection, a lecture on X-rays, CT scans etc.)
  • MMI (multiple mini interview) practise
  • short talk on medical school applications

Personally, I found the ophthalmology session the most interesting as we were able to practise looking for cataracts, testing the muscles of the eye etc on each other, and we could even see the veins behind the pupil in each others eyes, which I found fascinating, perhaps because in my opinion the eye is one of the most incredible parts of the body, as it has the ability to convert light into images so we can comprehend the world around us.

One of the most important things I believe I learnt whilst on this course was how to deal with patients, so I thought I would note down some tips:

  • always introduce yourself to the patient and make them feel comfortable and welcome
  • treat every patient with respect, no matter how they treat you
  • when diagnosing them, ask as much as possible (important to remember to ask about family history, mental / emotional health, and also to get as much detail as possible about all symptoms (eg. if they have had weight change, up or down?, how much? any potential causes? effect of food or exercise?) and finally if anything worsens or relieves symptoms)
  • important to ask open questions (eg. ‘could you please describe your symptoms’ as opposed to ‘have you experienced weight fluctuation’)
  • smile

I found this weekend very helpful and I would definitely recommend it to any aspiring medics!

Thanks for reading!

Microbiologist lab work experience

So two weeks ago I did five days of work experience at Queen Elizabeth’s hospital / Lewisham hospital in the microbiology labs there, and I am going to briefly talk about what it was that I did and what it taught me.

During my work experience (of which I spent the majority of at Lewisham hospital) I was very grateful to be able to get hands on at a number of different benches testing for various bacterial and virus causing diseases. For example, I spent some time on the faeces bench in which I was looking for salmonella, which was great as I was able to test the samples both manually (using agar jelly plates and incubating them) and mechanically, in which a large machine tested the samples as well.

In addition to this, I also worked on the urine bench, which (despite the smell!) I found fascinating, as on one day I was able to put the urine samples on agar jelly plates which then had various antibiotics placed on them, and the following day I could see how the bacterial colonies had grown. This allowed the microbiologists to determine if the pathogens were resistant or sensitive to certain antibiotics (by measuring the diameter of the clear ring surrounding the antibiotics).

Furthermore, I also worked in the reception area, which is where all of the samples from the main hospital come in and get labelled with barcodes before going on to be tested.

One of the great things about this particular work experience was that it enabled me to better appreciate what goes on behind the scenes in the hospital, something which I believe is often overlooked by members of the public. As well as this, when I was working in the reception area, I was very surprised at just how many samples came in each day, which emphasised to me just how important the job that the microbiologists were performing was.

On a separate note, something else which became apparent to me was the importance of the correct use of antibiotics; in school we were taught about the MRSA ‘super bug’, a strain of bacteria found in hospitals that has become resistant to so many different antibiotics that it is becoming more and more difficult to treat. However, at my work experience, I learnt that MRSA is just the tip of the iceberg, and that in reality, it is perhaps one of the least concerning super bugs, when compared to something such as the ESBL super bug, which is almost impossible to treat.

Finally, something for which I am particularly grateful to have learnt at work experience are the practical skills such as learning how to properly use a microscope and how to inoculate agar jelly plates correctly – whilst we have brushed over these skills in school, they are quickly forgotten but having done them repeatedly over and over again has meant that I am much more confident in using equipment in the lab and am much more likely to remember it, something which I am sure will come in useful in my science A levels and maybe even at university.

Overall, I found this work placement a very unique and interesting experience, and am very glad to have done it, as I would otherwise remain unaware of the significance of the work of all of the people who we never see at hospitals.

Thanks for reading!



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