Another week of work experience

In the half term holidays, I carried out some work experience in a care home in my local area. It was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, so I thought that I would like to share it with you.

 

On Monday, I was greeted warmly by the senior care officer who was looking after the ground floor of the care home. Immediately, I felt the clinical setting of this home, of all the necessary precautions required to ensure that patients maintain their welfare. I sat on a table across from a resident, whose hand was swollen. She was struggling to eat; I thought that we were just going to wait for her to feed herself. But instead, the carer started feeding her. I was somewhat astounded about this; I didn’t believe that patients needed to be spoon-fed until this time. All the residents used bibs, to catch all the food that they dropped when eating. The nursing home that I went to specialised in dementia, meaning that most of the patients there suffered from this disorder; this meant that some had forgotten how to talk, eat and walk. The nursing home was a decent size, looking after 28 residents. After I had witnessed this, I began talking to some of the residents. Most of them were shy, since they rarely had visitors. The few that I spoke to were hard to understand since they used slurred speech and had a problematic hearing. I then met the events coordinator, who went around to each of the residents, to get them to try out different things; this is because most of them are normally bored, and simply end up sleeping the whole day. I feel that she had a very important job since most of the residents don’t get many visitors; I realised that any company the residents had was good for them and it seemed therapeutic for them to have someone to talk to. I then helped to serve the lunch to the residents in the downstairs lounge; I was still a little unsure of my skills to feed someone, so it wasn’t until Tuesday that I began feeding residents. One imagines that going into a care home, that one will find fragile, quiet, and weak people, but instead some were loud, others cursing each other, and some getting violent. It showed to me the true nature of care homes, and the NHS, of all the paperwork and care that is needed for people.

Come here in a fortnight to find out what I did on the second day of my placement.

Sorry for the long time!!!

Hello everyone!

I am sorry for not uploading in so long. However, I have a special treat: I will be uploading the rest of my week of work experience.

 

On Wednesday I spent the morning in the A & E department, with its senior consultant. He took me around the area showing all the different features that needed to be present (e.g. windows for ventilation, hand wash, and enough windows and vents to allow for good circulation). I learnt the process of putting on a cast, as I have never seen the process, and he wanted to show it to me. I learnt that an exothermic reaction occurs when one puts the bandage in the water, after that it is simply layering the bandages over each other, and leaving it to set, to create a cast; sadly no one was having one than currently, so I unable to see the full process. The doctor explained to me the importance of history; 90% of diagnosing a patient’s illness is down to their history. For example, if a patient had come in with pains in the stomach, one would have little idea of what form of treatment should be used for them, but if we found out they had taken an excess of a certain tablet, we could help them efficiently and quickly. We saw a patient that was having migraines. Another patient was a homeless person who had come if because he believed he was having blackouts. It was quite hard to get the story out of him, as it was constantly changing; this did make the doctors quite doubtful seeing if had needed to come in. The doctor tested his reflexes and sensitivity in areas, as he realised that the patient had been drinking a lot of alcohol. He tracked his ability to watch a pen move left and right, touch a pen with his finger and nose, and then touch the bottom of his feet. After that, we saw a patient who was 107 years old; the second oldest person I have ever met (the oldest being 109). She had fallen over and had bruised her eye badly. She had tried to crawl outside as she couldn’t reach her phone, so she was quite hurt once she got to A & E. However, the doctors treated her well, and she was soon looking and feeling better.

In the evening, I sat in a clinic with two doctors, and two medical students from that university that were there for a few weeks. The clinic was for pregnant women suffering from diabetes; they made sure the diabetes wasn’t getting out of hand, and that the baby wouldn’t be affected by diabetes.

So, overall, a hectic day, especially in A&E, where I learnt even more how the hospital worked.

 

I had the chance to spend a morning with a nurse. She is a specialist nurse in diabetes. We went to see one man that had been recently diagnosed with diabetes; he was a chef at a restaurant. He had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She had to explain to him what he had to do to ensure he would be alright throughout the day. She taught him how to inject insulin into his blood, and the different tubes he had to use for his long-term and short-term glucose injections. She also gave him leaflets on living with diabetes and asked him if he drives, as one is not properly insured if they drive and haven’t told their insurer they have diabetes. Although this process did take a long time, it did show me that there is a wealth of support through the NHS and there are lots of questions needed for little things, even if they may not seem important. For the second patient, the nurse had to increase the volume of long-term insulin the patient’s blood, and decrease the volume of long-term insulin; this was because she had symptoms of hypoglycemia. As we went around the wards, I realised how big the hospital was! I would have been easily lost without the nurse with me.

For lunch, a rep came in for a talk for the endocrinology department; he bought a rack of subway sandwiches, so I was very happy that day!

In the evening, I sat in a clinic concerning hormones. We were seeing people who were suffering from problems from hormones like testosterone. I have to say during this clinic I did learn quite a lot about hormones, and that my GCSE biology was only touching the surface of it!

On Friday morning, I spent another morning in A&E, with a doctor. He was showing me the way the listing of patients works, where the patient is put on a list when they arrive with their condition, and how urgent it is. They are then put on a timer, where there is 4 hours before the patient must be seen, having been given the correct treatment. The first patient I saw was one that had fractured their hand, with a ‘boxer’s fracture’, where one of the metacarpal bones was cracked. She already had a cast on, but was experiencing great pain; she prescribed some paracetamol and carried out an x-ray scan to make sure she was ok. Another person had fallen, she was a small child, and the parents were unsure if she had fractured anything; after some short tests he realised that she was fine, and just needed some calpol to ease the pain.

I finished off my week with another clinic in the cardiology department.

So overall, a hectic week, full of learning, and a lot of fun. It gave me a good insight into medicine and helped me to realise whether I had the right skills to become a doctor. I was glad to have been able to go to the different departments, and have the rare chance of doing this.

My second day of work experience!

I hope you enjoyed reading my last post, so here goes my account of what happened on Tuesday:

I spent the morning in a clinic with a registrar who was specialising in endocrinology. It was about diabetes. He saw around 10 patients in total, some of which that were at risk of getting diabetes, and others that already had it. I felt that although he hadn’t had the experience of being a doctor for some time, he was still very welcoming, and was able to be friendly to the patients.

During my lunch hour, there was a little party going on for a doctor that had won an award; I snuck in a few cakes and some pizza. At this party, it showed me how close the department was, that without their teamwork it is likely they wouldn’t even be able to treat patients at the pace they do.

In the evening, I spent another evening in AMU. I was a junior doctor who was in his first year of clinical training. He came from a local school, and was telling me about the life of a medical student; it sure seemed hard, but extremely rewarding! We went to see a patient who had a build-up of fluid in his stomach due to a form of hepatitis which meant that his liver wasn’t working properly, and certain fluids weren’t being removed. To solve this, the junior doctor had to carry out keyhole surgery, with another senior doctor there showing him how to do it. It did surprise me how much packaging and different equipment they needed. The doctor had to get a syringe with a long needle, he then inserted it into the man’s belly to remove the fluid. It did take the doctor a few tries to get the needle in the correct place, but in the end, he ended up removing over a litre of fluid. He sent a small sample of this off to the liquid specialists to see what was exactly wrong with the patient and if anything needed doing urgently. I found out the transport system used to get blood round the hospital; it surprised me they used small bottles in tubes connecting the different areas of the hospital. By this time, I had discovered how slow the NHS computers were, due to ageing software and outdated computers; one doctor was telling me that if one could sort out the filing system, the computers could be speeded up a lot faster.

That’s it for Tuesday, come back here next fortnight for Wednesday’s blog

My first day of medical work experience

I undertook a week’s work experience in my local hospital. In this post I will be talking about my experience on the first day, and in later posts what happened on subsequent days.

On the first day, I spent the morning in the acute medical unit. The AMU treats patients who have been tagged as emergencies by their GPs, or who are requiring admission from the emergency department. It was a very hectic place, with many doctors rushing around to look after their patients. The way it worked was that patients coming into the AMU were put on a list, and a doctor would pick a person off the list to treat, and would write down that they had done this. I first met a junior doctor, who was in his second year of foundation training. He saw a few patients with me. One was a Sickle cell anaemia sufferer. I leant that there was a high prevalence of sickle cell anaemia in this area, and that this was a growing problem. One patient had come into the hospital as she was experiencing severe pains in her chest. The doctor ruled out it being a heart attack, and went through her symptoms bit by bit. He started asking questions of whether she had been feeling tired recently, and whether she had been losing interest in her hobbies; I realised he was trying to find out if her symptoms could have been due to depression. He wanted to exclude a clot in her lungs as the D-dimer test returned at medium possibility of this. He consulted a more senior doctor the case notes and he decided that to send her for a scan to exclude a clot. I discovered all the doctors carried ‘bleepers’ to be able to be paged; although they were old fashioned, they functioned remarkably well!

Later in the day I sat in a diabetes clinic, with some patients who had experienced hypoglycaemia. I watched how the doctor was kind and warming with every patient, welcoming them in. I discovered that at the end of every consultation the doctor would dictate the notes of the consultation; this recording was then sent to his PA, who typed up these notes later. One patient had an electronic glucose meter, that measured her glucose levels every hour; these were very modern, and seemed very innovative. She had recently undergone surgery to her hip, and her diabetes had worsened. She was changing her diet trying to control her sugars.

On the first day of my placement, I learnt a lot about the way in which hospitals run. That it is indeed a very complex process. I had also learnt some science which was an added bonus! It was a very enjoyable day, which had already given me a small insight into medicine.

In my next post, I will be talking about the next day on my placement.