The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 10 September 2017


Well, Summer is over and so it’s back to placement.

Going into fourth year feels scary. At my university, we sit our medical finals in fourth year, not fifth year. Cue immense pressure and frantic worrying! Most of the time spent this year is in clinical placement. I chose to change hospitals and am in a small district general. Personally I think the smaller the hospital the better the teaching. I was in a large university teaching hospital in second year, where nobody knew my name. Then in third year I moved to a district general, where I felt like I had a place and people didn’t just look straight over my shoulder. Now I am in an even smaller district general and I cannot say enough good things about it. Everyone seems to have more time to teach; everyone wants to teach, which is ironic now that I’ve left my ‘teaching’ hospital.

In spite of how wonderful I think the placement is going, I am lacking so much confidence. When I’m asked to do some bloods or a cannula I have 5 seconds where I freeze up – I dread that I’m going to mess it up. Sometimes I am too scared to speak up and ask to be involved more. It can be hard to pipe up and say “I want to go to theatre, too, please”. I really have to force myself to be brave, because what you put in is what you get out of the placement.

On Friday I was really struggling. I felt as if I had got to know a patient and they seemed to be very polite and sweet. Then we had a long chat about this patient with the consultant and the problems they faced. We were all dodging the elephant in the room, until the consultant said: “I don’t think [they’re] going to leave hospital”. I have been involved in the care of dying patients before, but this felt so much worse. This person was not actively dying, but things weren’t getting better. Now that I felt I knew them better, I felt even more sorry for them and cried quite a lot when I got home. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel when I next see them.

I do feel drained and scared, but I also know there’s nothing else I would rather be doing. I can’t think of any job more rewarding or interesting.
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