My First Surgical Attachment

This is the third academic year of my degree but I am more nervous than when I first started. This year is a lot more clinical than the previous years. Lecture halls have been replaced with hospital wards, practicing taking histories by simulation on my peers has been replaced with actual patients with real illnesses and instead of just learning about management of conditions I am seeing it play out in imaging, surgical theatres and in outpatient departments. I am just coming to the end of my surgical attachment at Charing Cross Hospital where I rotated through several specialties including acute gastrointestinal/general surgery, anaesthetics, breast and urology.

A medic with a knife.

At first, the 8am handovers and ward rounds were brutal. I had to leave my house at 6.45am to ensure I would get there on time and honestly, it felt like it was a struggle to just keep my eyes open during the day. Time went on though and I adjusted to my time in the hospital. A typical day included shadowing the morning handover and ward round, (and Googling all the terms I didn’t understand!), before moving into clinics, going to surgical theatres, practicing examining patients in A&E or attending teaching on clinical skills with my clinical fellow. It’s easy to feel you are in the way of all the staff but I was there to learn and I wanted to see as much as I could.

I have taken blood, performed and interpreted ECGs and administered intravenous drugs to sedate patients for surgery. I really enjoy adding to my bank of skills that will be essential for me in the future. I have seen how the patient journey starts and finishes and how doctors create management plans for the diagnosis and treatment of patients. As always, it’s tough to see patients vey unwell, distressed about their symptoms before they get a diagnosis or even so frustrated they leave the hospital against advice but sadly, that is sometimes a part of the patient experience.

This year feels like what I thought medical school would be like when I was applying to university. It’s been a whirlwind so far and I expect that will continue as exams approach. Balancing personal study time with time spent in the hospital and also seeing friends and family has been a struggle so I am hopefully going to start working on that soon coming into the new year.

I can’t believe I am already a third of the way through medical school, time passes faster than you would expect. During the past few years, I have questioned whether medicine is the right path for me and it has been tough to push past that doubtful feeling but the start of this year has me feeling like this is where I fit.

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