August 28, 2014, by studentcontributor
More tips for the wards!
3. Learn the surgical sieve
This. Consultants have a habit of asking medical students what the causes of things are. My go-to move when that happens is to physically and mentally freeze up, look around me in a panic as if the answer is lurking somewhere in the periphery of the room, say ‘umm’ a few times, and then offer up some dumb sounding suggestion in a tiny, apologetic voice. I mean – that was before I learnt the surgical sieve. Essentially, what it is is just categories of diseases – the main ones being Vascular, Inflammatory / Infective, Trauma, Autoimmune, Metabolic, Iatrogenic, Neoplastic, Congenital, Degenerative, Endocrine and Functional. The mnemonic I use is ‘VITAMIN CDEF’. Trust me, it’s a lifesaver – definitely one worth learning. Now at least my answers have some structure before they get shot down.
4. You’re allowed to be there
When I first started clinicals, I felt that my presence on the wards or in the clinics was somehow encumbering its function. Having a medical student around does slow things down. We take ages to clerk, make mistakes, plus having to teach means having less time to treat. However, about halfway through Clinical Phase 1 (CP1), a clinical teaching fellow in Lincoln told me something I’ll never forget. He said that no matter how much of a nuisance I believed myself to be, I had a right to be there and make a nuisance of myself, so long as I was learning something in the process. Effectively, he was saying not to let my fear of getting in the way get in the way of my learning. It’s natural to feel slightly out of place at the beginning, but since getting into the swing of it, being on wards and in clinics has become one of the most rewarding and interesting parts of medical school. Don’t worry if it’s taking some time to get there. Everyone has to start somewhere.
5. It’s going to be alright
My fifth and final note to my CP1 self is this: Medical school is tough, and it keeps getting tougher. There will be days where you feel like giving up and just quitting med school to work on your comedy, but don’t do it. You might think you aren’t intelligent or hardworking or determined enough, but that’s not true. Trust me, I’m from the future. You are going to make it. The important thing is to stick with it — do your best, don’t give up, and for goodness sake iron your shirts.