Saturday, 31 December 2011

End of the year...

So, 2011 is finally drawing to a close. It's been a rather interesting year for me and so I feel compelled to join in with the corny reflective blog entries, and then I'll probably continue with the corniness and make some resolutions of some kind.

2011 didn't start off in any particularly exciting way - my then-bf's uncle died on New Year's Eve and so the first event of any significance in the New Year was a funeral. I suppose that did mean that things really could only improve!

My first placement after the holidays was in general practice. I hadn't really expected to enjoy it much but I had a fantastic time. The staff were all lovely and I've kept in touch with one of the nurses and one of the receptionists. I was also able to do an audit whilst I was there, which was probably pretty good for the CV/job applications. Plus, it was on one of my "favourite" (read "favourite thing to rant about") topics - MMR vaccine uptake.

The rest of the academic year went fairly well, if uneventfully. Fourth year was rather stressful in the sense that, GP aside, we were only on most blocks for a week at a time so by the time we'd worked out who and where everyone/thing on the ward was, it was time to move on. On top of that, as anyone silly enough to have read my blog will know, in June we had our final written exams. From about March time I spent most evenings and weekends studying. Rather sad, but it paid off when I passed. A little scary to know that the next written exams I take will probably be my membership exams - eek!

Over the summer I had two wonderful weeks away volunteering. I won't go into details as I've already blogged about them, but they were lovely experiences and even now, months later, I still smile when thinking about them. I very much hope that I can squeeze in at least one this year.

This academic year has been rather up and down. After something of a dull start (professional practise block - yawn!( I had a wonderful experience on my elective in New Zealand. As well as enjoying the travel and change of scenery, my placement was fantastic and only reinforced my absolute love of paediatrics. After getting back to the UK, my gastroenterology placement was slightly less to my liking. However, I do feel like I came on a lot in terms of my knowledge and clinical skills, so overall I'd say it was successful.

Uni aside, I have of course got my job for once I've graduated. Rather exciting and terrifying at the same time. I'm still waiting to find out the exact details of my contract but it's nice to know that, providing I pass my OSCEs in June, I will have a job to start. After 7 (!!!) years of studying I'm rather looking forward to joining the real world.

Ignoring a lot of trivial and banal things which really don't matter, I'd say overall 2011 has been a pretty successful year for me - I hope 2012 continues in a similar way!

Now, resolution time! These are largely unrelated to work so don't really belong in this blog, but I thought it would be good for me to write them down somewhere so that I felt accountable!

- Get fit again. This is a major one for me because I know when I'm fitter and exercising more regularly my mood, energy and sleep are all much better. I was going to the gym at least 3 times a week until exams started taking up too much time. Then with elective and a placement out of town I haven't really had the chance.
- Start eating properly again. This is another "again" as it's a good habit I'd managed to get into which has lapsed recently. Ideally I'd like to lose weight but my primary goal is to eat properly and stop using food as an emotional crutch.
- Sort out my finances. Rather dull but as I'm now in my 7th year of student life, I am rather skint. This isn't an immediate thing but I'm hoping that if I'm sensible now and start working (hopefully!) in August that by the end of the year I will at least have cleared my credit card and overdraft...
- Attempt to be more positive. This is something I say every year and I'm not very good at it (look what I did there, self deprecation in action!) so I'll have to keep on trying.

Right, those are my little aims for the next year. And to graduate and become a doctor of course!

Happy New Year everyone! xxx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Well, I've made it to the end of term.

I must say that this has been a very up and down semester for me. Whilst I've learned lots and been kept busy (definitely a good thing for me) I've found there have been periods where I've felt stressed and unstimulated in equal amounts. As mentioned in my previous post, the staffing on my ward wasn't amazing. This meant that on more than one occassion, I was the most senior medic present. Given that I'm not qualified and therefore can't prescribe drugs (or even simple fluids) or do most procedures unsupervised, it meant I felt rather useless. At one point I was asked to see a patient who could potentially been very sick when there was no doctor present. Whilst he turned out not to be too unstable, the situation could have been rather disaterous. I'm not entirely sure what the right thing to do in that situation is, but I decided that taking a quick history, doing a brief examination, sending off some bloods and then bleeping my consultant was the way forward. No idea what I'd have done if I'd arrived to find him unstable - probably just skipped the history and bleeped someone asap. Hopefully I don't find myself in that situation again until I'm at least able to do something reasonable about it.

Despite my stressful experiences, there were plenty of good things about this block. I've got far more confident doing and interpreting bloods and ECGs, and I've been able to do an ascitic tap and insert a paracentesis drain. It comes very naturally to me to be negative about things, and in particular myself and my abilities, however if I'm honest I probably did quite well. All the consultants I worked with were very complimentary about me and said I'd make a good junior, which was nice to hear. One of the registrars even said I shouldn't go into paeds (as is the plan) because they wanted me in medicine. He was probably just being nice, but it was still good to hear something positive.

Continuing on a positive note (it really doesn't come easy to me, but I'm trying!), I've won a prize! I'm not actually sure what it means, but it's a student prize from the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health. I was nominated by a consultant I've done a bit of work with, which was nice. I'm fairly sure he only nominated me because I've annoyed him enough for him to remember my name, but none the less it was nice to get some recognition that I'm not totally rubbish. I'm getting to go to their annual conference in May, which will hopefully be really interesting as well as a good networking opportunity. I have submitted a paper to present there too, and I'll find out in January whether that's been accepted.

Well, it's now the holidays and a few days in I'm getting medicine withdrawal symptoms - so if any of you need any help researching/writing anything or want a student to analyse some data for you - get in touch!

Have a lovely Christmas everyone xxx