The musings of a final year medical student

Saturday, 20 February 2016


Hey everyone, 

This week I was on a hospital placement working on a geriatric ward and an acute stroke ward. In my last post I was feeling a bit deflated and anxious about how I was going to pass medical school, but I do feel more confident now. I haven't done any revision, but this week of placement has made me feel so passionate and interested with medicine that it helped me to learn much more.

To be honest I used to hate placement on the hospital wards. I  felt like a spare part, I didn't know anything and I wasn't allowed to perform any useful tests such as venepuncture. When I would get ready in the morning my chest felt tight and I was constantly panicking, rereading Clinical Medicine to see if I could anticipate what the consultants would grill me on. I also felt very inadequate next to the other medical students, particularly if they had previous degrees. 

This week all of that has changed. Each day I have arrived at placement 30 minutes early just to have time to relax, get in the zone and do a quick bit of revision. This time I tried to be the only medical student on the ward round, rather than be one of 3 and stood at the back. This made such a difference. It meant that I couldn't compare myself to anyone in my year, and I actually had the time to ask all of the questions I had wanted to ask. Sometimes when there are too many students it is just impossible to get a word in, or sometimes someone will correct you mid sentence which is very embarrassing! Especially if you were right in the first place. 

I felt great because the consultants were lovely to me and I do think part of that was because I showed a genuine interest and asked loads of questions. I always keep a notebook in my scrub top pocket and I was constantly writing interesting stuff down. It would take me 1-2 hours at the end of every placement to look up all of the things I had written down in my notebook!

The things I regret are not being more confident and also not saying "yes" more. I was offered to do a PR (rectal) exam on a patient but I said no and let the F2 do it, and acted as the chaperone instead. In retrospect, it would have been a good learning experience even though the thought of it is pretty gross. 

I've learnt that in order to make the most of the placement I have to put myself out there and just have go, even if it goes wrong. It's taken me four weeks to realise that but now I can actually look forward to my next hospital placement rather than dread it. 


1 comment

  1. Like you, I really struggled with being on the wards at the start. I felt like I had no idea what to do, what was going on or how anything worked! Other medical students just seemed to 'get it' as if they'd been doing it forever. It's actually only a couple of years later that I've discovered we were actually all in the same boat, all as clueless as each other! Even now I still feel like I'm having to push myself to do things that scare me - even if that's actually just something like taking blood or putting a cannula in. Although I accidentally came across a bit too keen about putting in a catheter the other day, I misheard and thought it was just a cannula that needed doing!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog


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