Med School Diaries: On Placement, Psychiatry and Presidency

With Covid-19 moving most of the teaching online and having pre placement hospital teaching cancelled due to the second wave. There have been multiple moments where I haven’t always felt like I was a medical student. 

But finally I’ve started feeling like I am getting to practice medicine, and learn more than just pathophysiology but about patient care and management. It started off with short half days in areas around the hospital I am placed at, I’ve spent mornings in A&E triage, Ambulatory care (which is a referral based walk in clinic) and spent time with a number of allied healthcare professionals. These half days have been a really good opportunity to see how the hospital care pathways work.

I was really happy about these short clinical placements, they allowed me to boost my confidence in going to placement because I get really anxious when going to new places. A big part of it is imposter syndrome; I get so anxious about going to a new place and introducing myself for the first time, my hands shake, I sit in the car park for at least ten minutes trying to encourage myself to get out of the car. Once I’ve gotten there, introduced myself and no one has told me I shouldn’t be there or I am not what they want, then I calm down and can really focus on learning and enjoying my placement.  These short days really helped me learn my way around the hospital and feel comfortable in the building. So now I am only worried about introducing myself to people and my clinical partner does all that for us, it was the agreement we made. 

Now we are racing through our first CCE placement (Core clinical Education), My first rotation is a Specialities rotation, jumping from Rheumatology, Haematology, to Paediatrics, Labour Wards, Psychiatry, GP and Anaesthetics. I’ve already been fit tested, scrubbing trained and jumped head first into clinical life. 

My first clinic I went to was a Rheumatology clinic, it was strange because it was a mixture of face to face and virtual; after all you can’t diagnose joint disease without seeing patients. I took a patient history and correctly identified some correct differentials after shadowing an examination. I  was starling to understand things, which is harder but more important than simply learning something. I was able to prove that to myself when I had some rheumatology teaching a few days later.

I have just finished my first psychiatry placement, spending a week in a secure hospital. I met lovely patients and doctors and got to experience, secure, community and forensic psychiatry. I felt out of my depth at times, because psych isn’t something I have learnt a lot about. But I was really interested to learn about a range of medical conditions, including conduct disorder and erotomania, along with learning about psychosis. Definitely looking forward to my ten week placement in my next year placement but very certain it isn’t a speciality I would choose. It focuses a communicative and social prescribing medicine and has very little physical medicine and active interventions, something that I really enjoy with medicine.

I am sure if you have gotten to the this part of the blog post you are intrigued about where the presidency part of the title comes into play. This year I was elected president of Warwick WHAM. The student outreach society at the medical school. I love doing the outreach work, it’s a big part of why I try to keep the medical side of my blog really honest. Its been keeping me super busy, we have so many virtual events going on this year (shameless link here) but I am super grateful for the amazing team I have this year. There are plenty of projects going on both independently and in conjunction with the medical school and I am really looking forward to all the things we scheduled. 

It is however a big time drain; I have become more conscious now about how am I spending my time. I have to balance placement, uni teaching, self directed learning, my RLT role, my paid job, running a society, trying to get more consistent blogging along with normal adulting… and I have recently added a relationship into the mix. I’ve really had to focus, compartmentalise and learn to delegate projects I am reluctant to let go of. But when simple things like laundry and cleaning your pots become the bottom of the priority list you really do have to start focusing on that work life balance, hopefully I am getting there.

Fortunately, new week is a quiet week placement wise and I will hopefully have the opportunity to get on top of things. I have a simulation teaching session and my first GP placement day. But other than that nothing more face to face. I am planning to use next week to write a few blog posts (crossed fingers) and work my way through the presentation list and drugs list for my anaesthetics placements which will be happening over the next few weeks. Really need to learn the drugs list… I was my weak spot last year and I am determined not to let it beat me this year!

Medical school is hard, and whilst it might mentally be easier now I have made it through the first year of grad med at Warwick (which is very tricky mentally), I have moved into this new way of learning and a lot of it is self directed. Its allowing me the opportunity to evaluate my lifestyle, make some changes and locate the flaws in my learning. Being on placement already feels more natural then being in a classroom (even a virtual one) all day every day and I am sure that I will rebalance everything soon. 

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