Our Introduction to Medical Practice course takes us to the hospital for two weeks so we can learn to take histories and do physical examinations. It sounded way cooler before I was actually doing any of it. Things I have learnt during my first week include:
I don’t like talking to people – really.
Every book I’ve read tells you to remember that you’re learning, and that the patient knows you’re learning so you shouldn’t feel like you’re wasting everyone’s time. Guess what? I still feel like I’m wasting everyone’s time. But I think, with practice, I’ll feel less unnecessary.
Hospitals are really big (and elevators are never on time)
Our hospital has ten floors. Ten floors. Are you kidding me? As a general rule, I only use elevators when I absolutely need to, simply because I hate them. But when you have to walk up seven floors using the stairs, you start to think that maybe a little vestibular wonkyness would be worth it if your thighs would just stop burning, oh god.
Consultants know everything (even the medical students in the year above you know everything)
Consultants work years to cultivate their mad skills of tripping up too-cocky residents and students. They all exude an aura of ‘my intellect is much too busy for you, but here have a crumb of knowledge from my vast and infinite repertoire. NOT.’ So often this week I’ve felt like everyone else in my class knew things that I didn’t. But then there’s always the times when you know things they don’t too.
Everyone is always busy
Consultants, residents, interns, nurses. Everyone has somewhere to be and something to do (usually several of each) except the patients. Which is kind of frustrating and kind of not. The buys people are who you need to learn from, but the patients are who you’ll be practicing your skills on. It’s kind of a trade-off… that doesn’t usually work out in your favour.
Surgery is no fun at all
Standing for an hour and a half with nothing to do except watch gloved hands clutching instruments and doing things that are far above your head because nobody bothers to explain any of it to you is not my idea of a good time. The most interesting thing in the room turned out to be the heart monitor, because I could actually see it clearly, and it was the only thing I could understand.
As long as there’s a seat available, take it
You spend so much time standing and walking that by lunch you kind of collapse onto the nearest (soft) flat surface and breathe an audible sigh of relief. Which brings me to another point: wear comfortable shoes. Use insoles if you have to. On my first day I was so excited that I hardly sat down. By the time I went home, I ended up having to soak my feet for an hour. Lesson learnt.
Do you have any hospital stories to share, from either side of the medical field?