Hospital Work Experience #2 – Day 1

Hello Medlink bloggers! So sorry that it’s been so long since I last posted, and I know that exams are no excuse not to as we have all been going through with them. Anyway, happy summer holidays! We have made it through the trials and tribulations of the summer term, (revision, exams, Duke of Edinburgh, sports day, saying goodbye to leavers, speech day…) and now it’s time to focus on the next steps on our path to medicine. For me, these include EPQ research, personal statement writing, UKCAT practice, and of course, work experience.

So far this holidays I’ve spent some time at a GP surgery and with a physiotherapist (for work experience) and I’ve just started a week’s hospital work experience (so…this is hospital work experience, mark II…). I promise that I will blog about my time in the GP surgery and with the physio, but today I’m just going to talk about today’s happenings at the hospital.

So, my placement is in a local hospital which is smaller than the one where I was work experiencing (…I may have created a new phrase there…) in February. The three main departments which I was scheduled for today were the Porters (which included a surprise visit to “rose cottage”), Paediatrics and F.O.P.A.S. (frail older person’s assessment service).

My day started off with the Porters and the first job of my day (I say my day because the porter I was with started his shift at 5am…) was to collect syringe drivers from the equipment library and taking them to a ward. The equipment library was neatly organised and catalogued and there was different types of equipment to accommodate bariatric patients (e.g. different chairs, beds…and even body bags…). Any equipment taken out for use had to be signed out to the specific patient who needed it in order to track the equipment and make sure none went missing. After completing the job, we went back to the porters lodge and very shortly after arriving, we were called to move a patient from their ward to Radiology. Whilst moving around the hospital with this patient, I noticed the porter seemed to know everyone- he was chatting to all the nurses, cleaners, receptionists and security staff as friends more than colleagues…but then again, I suppose after the long shifts for 18 years, you would get to know most of the hospital. Another job was to take blood samples to the blood bank for analysis and to collect the blood bags for transfusions. Again, these all needed to be checked (so that we definitely had the right blood), signed out (twice) and handed directly to a nurse, not just left on the side or handed to a the receptionist. There was also an example of, what I call, biology in practice (stuff I’ve learnt in biology coming into play 😉 ). So, we’ve learnt about centrifuging to split blood into its different components, but I then saw this taking place in the blood bank, where it was split into platelets, red blood cells and blood plasma…so yeah…that was really quite interesting J. Now, on to my surprise visit…to the mortuary! (code name: rose cottage). (We didn’t actually take any cadavers (code name: guests) down with us, but we visited the mortuary technician).

…I know…it’s strange that I’m so excited about this…but death is a certainty of life, and unfortunately, as (future) doctors, we will come across it at some point or another. The morgue was very sterile and organised and of course, there were massive freezers. As with equipment, there were different sized freezers- in the middle, there was a bigger freezer for the larger bodies. The post-mortem room was smaller than I expected and seemed very bare, but I guess that’s just because it has to be and because it was so sterile and clean and organised…There was also a viewing room so that relatives or friends can see the deceased, but there was also a viewing window in case the body was infectious.  (You are also probably wondering about the code word thing- it’s so when talking about it through the radios or around the hospital it doesn’t upset or sadden people.)

What I’ve appreciated is that if you want to know something about the hospital, ask the porters- they know every department, everyone and everything!

After a lunch break I then went on to….


So, the paediatrics ward I was on cared for “young people” from the ages of 0-24 years old (I know…24 seems very old for a children’s ward…and most paediatrics units are for 0-17 yrs.). Because this hospital is a smaller hospital, in general, most of the inpatients only stay for a short time; patients who need longer term care are admitted to the larger local hospital. The ward was quite quiet, whist I was there but there was still the general buzz of nurses, physios, Occupational Therapists, Doctors and Surgeons. I shadowed a student nurse (who was on her final placement) and we checked on the inpatients and took their pulse. There was a wide variety of cases on the ward and a wide age range. The units within the ward were split by age and then, over a certain age, also by gender. Contagious or infectious patients had their own rooms to avoid communicating the disease. Speaking of communication, I was talking with the student nurse and we came onto the subject of doctor’s handwriting and sometimes how difficult it is to read; bad handwriting really doesn’t help when you need to record and store patient notes and care plans and when someone else then needs to try and read it…so I’m going to try and improve my fast note taking handwriting skills…(sorry, slight diversion there…)…


The final unit I was in today was the frail older person’s assessment service, which before today, I’d never heard of (but that could be because it was introduced last year…). Anyway, the unit supports anyone with one or more frailties (falls, reduced mobility, multiple medications, delirium and/or dementia) and aims to avoid the need to admit patients into hospital and reduce the strain on A&E. They do this by giving the patient a “full M.O.T” (that’s probably the best way to describe it…) and are checked by the doctor, Nurses, Pharmacists and OT’s. FOPAS was also very quiet during my visit, so I talked to one of the Pharmacists and the Doctor. The pharmacist checks the patient’s drug charts and checks to see if any of the patient’s prescriptions/not taking prescriptions could be the cause of the pain or discomfort and see if there’s any prescriptions which could be changed. They communicate with the GP’s and Doctors to discuss which changes should be made and to find out which drugs the patient should be on. The pharmacist also advised me to ask open questions when talking to a patient so that they don’t just give one word answers and can tell you things which other might have been missed with just a yes/no answer.


Sorry, if I’ve been quite brief about FOPAS and Paediatrics, but it is getting quite late and my fingers are getting tired from typing ;). So, goodnight and goodbye…the adventures continue tomorrow J….


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