November 2017

The summer holidays were extremely short this year with only three weeks between the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th year. After this short break, we were once again sent out to our placements around the South West.

This time, I was going to spend the upcoming five months in Swindon at the Great Western Hospital. The first module for the first nine weeks was Psychiatry and Perioperative Care. I was attached to the liaison psychiatry consultant for the first six weeks, whose job is to see patients around the hospital who have been referred to him. This was a great opportunity to see various psychiatric problems ranging from catatonic depressions, post-partum psychosis to emotionally unstable personality disorders. Most importantly, I learnt how to carry out a mental health assessment and risk assessments, which is essential to know regardless of the specialty one chooses to go to.

The following three weeks in perioperative care were the exact opposite of the psychiatry attachment. Less talking and more hands-on skills. Being only in a group of 5 meant that there would always be just one medical student per operating theatre and so we would get to do anything we felt confident to try. This was the time to get skilled in cannulations, airway management, intubation, drug preparation etc. The only drawback was the short duration of this module. It was quite exciting to really be a part of the team.

After a week of lectures back in Bristol, we started another 9-week long attachment in Community Orientated Medical Practice 1, or paediatrics, public health and evidence-based medicine. The latter two were delivered in the form of lectures and tutorials and built on medical statistics that we learnt in the first year. The paediatrics component is similar to our clinical attachments in Junior Medicine & Surgery last year, but with the difference that we have to learn all of the fundamentals of paediatric medicine. Furthermore, our academy holds regular simulation sessions where we have an opportunity to practise care and management of acute conditions on a mannequin. This allows to get used to decision-making, using national guidelines and collaborating with registrars on calls under pressure, making it as close to the real life circumstances as possible.

During the rest of the year, we will have more attachments focusing on other medical specialties, such as care of the elderly, obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatal medicine and dermatology.

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