Monthly Archives: September 2015

What I have learned from my work experience so far

In Year 10, I got some work experience at a pharmacy for 2 weeks and over the past year I have been getting more work experience in other places. In the pharmacy, serving customers of all ages helped me improve my communication skills and organising the stock improved my organisational skills. Through doing these duties and asking the staff questions about their job, I gained an insight into the role of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants when it comes to patient care. I also seized the opportunity to learn about common medicines such as codeine by reading their labels and asking questions to the staff about these medicines, which was useful for me. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this work experience and this experience was what gave me the platform to pursue a career in medicine.

Last December, I spent 2 weeks at a GP practice. During this time, I was mainly involved in dealing with patients who came to the practice, filing patients’ files, checking patients’ records, handling prescriptions, booking appointments using EMIS and calling patients regarding appointments. Doing these duties further honed my organisational skills and my ability to communicate professionally over the phone likewise improved. As well as this, I realised that the administrative tasks I was doing were important in order to prevent mishaps and to make sure that information about patients was accessible when it was needed. I also realised the importance of teamwork as a doctor and the different ways different health professionals (not just doctors and GPs) contribute to the care and treatment of patients.

During the Easter holidays, I worked as a care assistant at a care home. My experiences there have shown me the more unpleasant side of medicine and have taught me a lot about the reality of a medical career. The problems and difficulties I encountered during this experience made me develop and understand the importance of the skills that are required when dealing with patients. An example of this was when an argument between two of the residents occurred due to hateful comments from one of them. With the help of the staff, I calmed them down and resolved their argument before they became violent. As a result of this situation, I learned to be more confident and to ask for help when needed. Spending time with residents who had dementia and/or other health problems also made me realise that understanding and patience were important to be able to communicate effectively and interact with them. During this experience, I also realised that being a doctor can be emotionally stressful, but despite this, the experience was very rewarding and conversing with the residents made me very glad to be helping them.

In the past year, I have also volunteered as a teaching assistant at a primary school every Wednesday afternoon for 6 months. While I was there, I worked with a small group (3 or 4 children) of children, who were in Year 6, and went through their work and tests. Through doing this, I learned how to communicate so that they could understand what I was saying, which is crucial for doctors when discussing the patients’ conditions and possible treatment options. I was also unsupervised during this time, which allowed me to be more autonomous and helped me solve problems (e.g. children misbehaving and not focusing on their work) more effectively without help.

So far, I have really enjoyed my work experience and these experiences have given me a strong insight into the realities of medicine. Next month, I will be working in the physiotherapy department of a hospital, which I am looking forward to and should be useful even though I will be working with physiotherapists instead of doctors (I tried getting work experience at numerous hospitals last year but unfortunately I could not get a placement at any of these hospitals).

Could wasp venom be a cure for cancer?

Lab studies done by scientists in the University of Brazil suggest that the toxin (MP1) in the venom of a  Brazilian wasp (Polybia paulista) can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.

The scientists found that MP1 interacts with fat molecules on the surface of cancer cells and creates wide holes that makes vital molecules leak out of the cells. Healthy cells would not be affected by this as the same molecules are hidden on the inside of these cells and so healthy cells are normally not affected by the toxin. Their findings are published in the Biophysical Journal.

The wasp venom could be used to develop new combination therapies, where the wasp venom and other drugs are used at the same time to treat a certain type of cancer by simultaneously attacking different parts of the cancer cells.

These findings do show that wasp venom could possibly be used to treat cancer in the future but this work is at an early stage and so more lab studies and clinical trials are needed to check if it will work safely in humans and if it will benefit cancer patients.