Isn’t it summer?

July 21st, 2010 1 comment

It is, apparently, July. Looking out my window it could be anything from November to March without too much convincing. Nevertheless, being July, means that I increase age yet another year. I’m now a few days into being 22 and I dislike it. I feel old.

On the other hand, this time next year (hopefully) I will have qualified and am sure to be even more terrified about being 23 and about to start looking after people. Ill people. Oh dear!

I’m also approaching the rough half mark in my summer “holiday”. In truth I barely feel like I’ve had many days of holiday, going from a final morning of surgery to Edinburgh airport in the evening. This was followed by a good deal of travelling then a jet lagged car trip in the baking Florida heat. Florida theme parks followed which, while enjoyable, are not quite that relaxing! Take this for example:

The picture doesn’t do it justice. It does film you throughout the ride, which was great to watch, but ridiculously expensive to buy. Getting about Harry Potter land also requires a great deal of patience and a hat to wipe the sweat away.

While I was only there for a week, it was great to get out of the country. My poor flatmate has tagged his elective on to the end of 4th year and effectively hasn’t had a break yet. Since January.

Back to my non-holiday, I returned Sunday lunch time, barely awake, to return to Glasgow the following day. So began the podcasting! This has involved my writing, acting in and editing clinical procedures. Indeed, I started acting the morning I returned from working T in the Park. With only a week with the film crew, we had lots to get through. It carried me through to my birthday weekend rather quickly.

And so here I am and after next week I return to medicine as I begin my elective in Yorkhill. I wish I could’ve gone away, especially since summer seems to be over here. I still have over a year to go though and the money to support me is a never ending hunt. It’s best I stayed, I’ll just have to make the most out of it.

And nod and smile when people recall their elective holiday come September. Sigh.

Almost there…

June 21st, 2010 No comments

The end is in sight. After many many weeks of the 4th year, I have only a few days to go. I still need to be signed off for this block but I’m hopeful that will happen without a problem in the next day or so.

It will be then that I can finally have an attempt at a summer holiday. In that, I’ve almost already failed. My August is taken up as my elective – which I’m actually quite looking forward to. And, as per posts below, I have now lost my July to the inescapable quest for money to push me through.

It is with this knowledge that I approach my best hope for a holiday with some cautious optimism. This time next week I shall be suffering the Florida heat and hopefully enjoying the break. As my first time abroad in a bit too many years, I think I’ve deserved it. A number of my friends, those who’ve went down the path I had blocked, have already had more of a holiday than I have or will have in the near future. Such is my fortune and so I must endure my jealousy.

With only a week in Florida to escape, there won’t be much chance to try and forget about that, but I’ll do my best.

And after it’s all over and we eventually return to face a final year, the threat of exams shall start. It is amongst those rather darkened clouds that I have to deal with job applications. This in itself is an interesting subject. Over the past months and particularly weeks I have been contemplating applying for an Academic Foundation programme. The odds were very much against me, the thought of actually filling in the application form was embarrassing – considering the blanks I would have left. The benefits were not all that clear and the possibility of leaving where I’m comfortable was not appetising. It is with all this in mind that I have not even registered to apply for this post. Have I made a mistake? Perhaps. Maybe I will end up regretting it, if I end up on Shetland or somewhere else I have no desire to go. On the whole though, I think it was the right choice and we’ll just see what happens.

This I have to face and it’s not as far away as it seems. For as much as I long for a return to normality, I know it will come all to quickly. And then next year, after exams and the stress of jobs, on the longest day of 2011, perhaps I can be the one making my friends jealous that they have still got a few days left…

Categories: General Tags: , ,

Off at a tangent

June 11th, 2010 No comments

So, unlike that interview from a few years past, I actually got this job. It’ll be a logistical headache but otherwise should be good.

Yay!

Categories: Geeky, General Tags: ,

Completing the loop

June 11th, 2010 No comments

No, I’ve not done an audit. That remains one of the tick boxes I haven’t managed to tick over the last four years. With any luck, it won’t matter too much.

Instead I’m about to prepare for the start of my final year in the same way as I ended my first – I’m going for an interview. This will be the third interview since I’ve started Uni and almost certainly will be the last before a proper job. Indeed, I don’t even get an interview for my first two years, so this will be the first one until I apply for specialist training – scary! Although this sounds rather trivial, it has a bit of a deeper meaning which I’ll leave for a later post.

The job is something I have a bit of an interest in – mixing both medicine with some IT and creating some podcasts to teach clinical skills. I think the end idea is to try and research how effective they are. This ticks another of my interests – medical education. All seems rather perfect! They want someone working through the summer for a minimum for 4 weeks. This is where I start to worry a little. Between coming back from Florida and starting my elective, I do have 4 weeks free. However, I’ve also volunteered to go to T in the Park with the Red Cross. Hopefully it shouldn’t clash too much, but I don’t really want to have to pick between them. I personally don’t see a terrible amount of people applying for this, but I shouldn’t get complacent. We’ll see how it goes!

In the mean time, I’m back in Glasgow for the Snow Patrol concert on Saturday. The flat is empty apart from me and I’ve taken to putting things on the wall to keep me sane. Pictures when it starts to look impressive!

Categories: General Tags: , , ,

The beginning of the end

May 28th, 2010 No comments

I have wondered recently whether there is any point in keeping this blog alive. I haven’t written anything now for a number of months, despite having a lot more free time than usual. In the end though, I’ve been surprised at the number of people reading this and, at least for a little while, this has sparked me into writing again.

As I write this I’m finishing the first week of my last block of my penultimate year at University. I can’t help but think this really is the start of the end of this part of my life. I’m no fan of change and I’m not looking forward to the loss of my current comforts in just over a year’s time. All the same, I really am fed up of being a student and really can’t wait to start a proper job.

Before that emotional rollarcoaster starts, I have the warm-up ride of this summer to get through. I can’t recall any time over the past few years where I’ll be spending months without some of the close friends I’m used to being around. Over the next few days and weeks I’m going to have to say goodbye to too many people who I don’t want to go. At least one I’ll probably never see again. I don’t like change.

I have a week abroad to look forward to – this first time in over 4 years(!!) – but before then I still have 4 more weeks of 4th year to get through. Thankfully I’ve moved back home for this month, I’m almost feeling appreciative of my family’s company.

Perhaps what worries me  most is the knowledge that as I clear the summer and normality resumes – which it will, I don’t doubt – the threat of my finals will loom all the more. Revising for them is not something I really want to think about. 255 days to go, don’t you know.

In the end I don’t particularly want to retire this blog, it is a source of some amusement looking back on it. I feel, however, as I head towards the bigger world of work, I can’t really keep this going forever. It is my aim then to keep on until that point, hopefully releasing some of the stress here. If you know me in the flesh, know it is incredibly embarrassing when someone mentions this blog. That is a self-confidence issue I haven’t yet resolved.

Let the end begin.

Categories: General Tags: , ,

A different approach to feedback

January 28th, 2010 3 comments

Glasgow love feedback. Everything we do we’re meant to feedback and evaluate whatever it was that we attended. Fair enough, it’s great if it affects the future of the course. Apparently it does, I’m not so sure. Our feedback generally involves a 1-5 rating scale, with 5 being “excellent” and 1 signifying “poor”.  We also get a little free box to add anything else we can think of.

By the end of about week 5 in first year I’m pretty sure most people can no longer be bothered giving feedback, despite the constant emails on the subject. Personally I think I’ve come up with a much better way to rate things we’re timetabled to attend. Something along the lines of:

Was <whatever> more useful than:

  1. Spending the time reading about the topic
  2. Spending the same amount of time at the gym
  3. Spending that valuable time in bed. Asleep. (Or whatever.)

The very good classes are the ones better than spending the time reading about the content. Classes which involve something practical almost certainly are better than reading it from a book – they’d probably score highly here. Lectures probably have to do a little bit more in order to get the top mark. The vast majority that I’ve experienced do not quite equate to me reading it from a book. Thankfully PBL has saved me from having these lectures as my principle method from which to learn. (Take home message – PBL = good).

Going to the gym is fairly productive, certainly for most people. There are a few who would rather sit in any lecture than go to the gym but we’ll consider them the minority. I could probably suggest those people need to go to the gym more, but that’s a bit nasty. A lecture which is better than going to the gym (but not quite as good as reading the topic) is doing not bad. Could be improved but that’s ok. That’s what feedback is for, yeah? The majority of lectures (and the non-practical classes) probably sit somewhere in here. Does the feedback have an effect? Who knows.

A class which is not quite as useful as spending the time in the gym is struggling a bit. This is when students start falling asleep.

This brings us on to the worst of all classes – the ones where you could be sleeping. And, considering the quality of the lecture, you’d be better doing so. There are always going to be the odd few who like ever lecture. They’re also the minority. Probably the minority in the minority from earlier. A sad number of classes fall in here. Can’t we make them better, please?

I’m sure it’s possible. I’m slowly becoming more interested in medical education perhaps because (I think) I can spot the problems or, perhaps because I think things could usually be better. There are many ways things could be improved, I’ll try to see if I can summarise the more obvious ones in a later post.

Out of interest though, is this just Glasgow? Do other students (medical or non) suffer terrible lectures?

And isn’t that a more useful type of feedback? Instead of being given a mark out of 5, wouldn’t you rather know students would rather be asleep than at that class? Hmm, frustration!

Categories: Uni Tags: , , ,

Getting on

January 18th, 2010 No comments

It’s been a while since my last blog post and things are certainly moving on. In just over a year’s time I’ll be sitting my finals – this is quite a scary thought!

Before then I have to try and learn as much as I possibly can (and hope I don’t miss anything that comes up). The problem I’m finding is the lack of exam this year has left me a bit aimless. I certainly don’t enjoy exams, but they do make you learn. I have many ideas about how I would change the course set up, but that’s another post.

My current block placement is in general practice. Last year I really liked my attached GP placement – it was small and friendly. We got specific teaching and there was lots of time to discuss things. Ok, so I only went there every 2 weeks but this year I simply feel much more of a burden on the practice. So much so, my timetable is fairly laughable. This Wednesday, for example, I’ve been told to go to reception in the afternoon. Sigh.

This shouldn’t be taken as offensive to receptionists (who, I’m sure, are frequent readers!) but I simply don’t think I’m really going to get much out of it. My computer skills are, I believe, fairly good and I don’t think they want to spend time teaching me their system just so I can answer some phones.

All in all I’m finding life as a student pretty annoying at the moment. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know anywhere near enough to be “out in the wide world” but I often wonder whether I’d be feeling the same at different hospitals, medical schools or even in a different country. By far the most enjoyable part of my year so far was the student selected component (SSC) I did in neonatal medicine. I liked the subject, sure, but I also felt like part of the team.

Is this important though? Can I honestly say I learned more there than I have done elsewhere? Difficult to tell.

The flip side to this is how will I feel when I’m actually not a student any more? At the moment I think (and hope) i’ll enjoy it but time will tell. In the middle of all of this, thinking about jobs is something I feel I should be doing. Certainly it’s still early but I have many things to consider.

Firstly, do I want to think about an academic foundation post? This is a tough one. It may help balance the fact I didn’t intercalate and I certainly have an interest in teaching and (clinical!) research. But is this post necessary? Will it help? More importantly, do I stand a chance? A great proportion of people in my year have a intercalated (or other) degree. They will surely be more preferentially linked to one of these jobs. Another concern is the actual rotations themselves. Should I pick an alternative I’m more likely to end up doing things in the foundations years that are more towards what I currently would like to specialise in. This is something I think is now very important, since we don’t have a lot of time to search around lots of specialities.

However, academic foundation posts don’t recruit through the standard method. I’ll need to decide before the summer whether this is something I want to do or not.

Llots to consider. Another worry niggling away at me is whether I’ll be able to stay in Scotland at all (assuming I apply for a traditional programme). If so, where abouts? If not, where else? My current academic standing isn’t great and the talk about changing the system could be either good or bad. Ideally I want to be in the West of Scotland and certainly Scotland as a foundation school was under subscribed this year. Lets hope it stays the same!

Got a few other things I want to write about – UKCAT for one and then something geeky. Just need to find the time!

Categories: Uni Tags: , , ,

Book: Pocket Prescriber 2010

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

Pocket Prescriber 2010

I kind of stumbled across this little book recently. So far, I quite like it. If you use the BNF regularly, you can probably get a bit of help out of this little gem. It aims to give the reader a quick snapshot of what you actually need to know about a drug.

Unlike with the BNF where you need to find the drug then find the drug’s parent to read about cautions. Then you need to search through an appendix or two to find the possible interactions. This book takes the commonly prescribed drugs (I haven’t found any particular omission yet, common and not so much) and tells you everything all at once. This includes what the drug does, when to use it, when not to use it, what to be careful of, what to tell the patient and how much to prescribe. For certain drugs there is a fairly noticeable extra bit where something important needs mentioning. This continues in a helpful A-Z fashion for 160 or so pages.

Following this is a useful chapter on the rationale behind selecting certain drugs. Covering topics from antibiotics to antidepressants. There is the potential for a lot of time saved here. Ok, so it’s never going to match ever local policy but you won’t find it in the BNF at all! Plus, compared to our local Therapeutics manual – this thing doesn’t need a backpack to carry it.

With still a few more sections to go, the next is on areas often considered difficult to prescribe. Insulin, anticoagulants and thrombolytics make up the majority of this section. All the advice is evidence based and articles are fully referenced for the background reading if required.

Almost there, but not quite. Next is an appropriately named Miscellaneous chapter covering everything from common side effects to the use of intravenous fluids. Also sneaked into the end of that chapter is a discussion on the all important CYP450. This is an easily accessible version of important pharmacology which otherwise would probably require a textbook. Useful for the (heh) quiet times when a bit of revision can be squashed in.

Better still though is the final chapter – medical emergencies. The focus is on the immediate recognition and management. I would hate the thought someone would quickly be consulting this text in such a situation but it no doubt happens. Personally I aim to learn this chapter before I graduate…we’ll see how that goes. Just in case though, the front and back inside covers fold out to reveal ALS algorithms as well as the NICE guidelines for TIA and stroke.

My only real complaint about this book would be the extreme use of abbreviations. I appreciate they’ve tried to keep the text small – successfully, it’s tiny! – but there were at least a few that threw me for a minute. Nevertheless, it’s a great book – although probably more so for junior doctors than students. However, if you know anyone studying for finals, Christmas present?

Categories: Review Tags: ,

Sorry it’s been quiet

November 25th, 2009 2 comments

As has been pointed it has been a (really) long time since I made a post.

So what’s been happening?

I’ve finished neonatal medicine, now switched completely to old-age psychiatry. As I will frequently mention I have no aspirations as a future psychiatrist. So this should be a bit of a nightmare for me. Thankfully it’s not quite that bad. Compared to my last block I’ve got a lot more free time to spend (mainly sleeping). Unlike the last block I have to write up roughly 1 case a week. I’m still trying to get used to that. Most others in my year have been doing this for a couple of blocks already. No idea what will happen when someone actually sits down to read these!

Working in an old-age ward is leading me to question the cognitive abilities of my family. I’m questioning whether I can really give them an assessment as a Christmas present?

First aid has again become an increasing part of my free time. Not quite what it once was but for some reason I seem to enjoy it. Maybe I’m just strange, but there you go. Glasgow on Ice is back and I’m spending a few evenings there. Hopefully the rain will eventually stop and we’ll get proper winter weather.

I should probably take this opportunity to mention the efforts the British Red Cross has contributed to the Cumbria flooding. A substantial amount of the rescue equipment and teams has travelled down from Northern Scotland to help. Unfortunately the regular media hasn’t really given much mention to BRC. The same should be said of the International Rescue Crops who are another voluntary agency responding to some considerable disasters in and out of the UK. Personally I hadn’t even heard of these guys until my major incidents module and was quite surprised to hear what they can do. Plus, given the origins of their name, I was quite interested in them. If you haven’t heard of them either, go have a look at what they do.

Not trying to become a complete charity case but it is impressive that there are people out there who respond to such incidents without even a bit of worry about recognition.

Closer to home I’ve recently been involved in the admissions committee for applicants in 2010. I don’t want to mention too much of it here since it is an ongoing process but I will probably spend a bit of time on the UKCAT in the near future. Interviews started today (I believe) so good luck to those who have them!

Unfortunately I’m quite a big X Factor follower. Personally I’m a Joe or Stacy fan, simply because they can sing. Loved Lucie, sad to see her go. It’s worryingly close to the final now, which means it’s almost Christmas. Shopping? Done none of that! Tomorrow is fortunately pay day so I should maybe start thinking about it.

That’s quite a good bit of catching up. I’ll try in future to do some smaller posts more frequently. Even though I say this it probably won’t happen.

Categories: General, Uni Tags: , ,

Keeping busy…really

October 6th, 2009 1 comment

Despite having completed 1/10th of my final teaching blocks left before I (hopefully) graduate, I haven’t really done much medicine yet. The start of this week seems to have changed all that. Yesterday was one of my longest days since exam revision. Somewhere along the lines of:

8am – leave flat

9am-12pm – Interprofessional stuff with the pharmacists (was better than expected, think I had a lucky group)

12pm – Lunch & walk back to the west end

2pm-5pm – Radiology lectures >.<

5:05pm – Grabbing a chocolate bar

5pm-?pm – Lecture on more major incident stuff & debrief of recent exercise

6pm – Red Cross meeting

6:45pm – Time I actually left other meeting to go to Red Cross meeting

7:50pm – Time I left Red Cross meeting

8:15pm – Home

All in all, that’s a lot for someone who’s been in for a couple of hours a week for the past month. Sadly I seem to like days that are busy and I worryingly hope it’ll be like that for a while starting tomorrow.

I’m expecting a lot from this next block (neonates). I’m hoping to try and get an audit completed since this is a common thing post-qualification and I’ve done nothing of the sort so far. There is also a bit of hope that I can experience some of the neonatal transport in the West…we’ll see.

Out of Uni I’ve been busy 1) trying to get an update of my IPB mod released, 2) doing some first aid for the Red Cross and 3) trying to produce some sort of fancy booklet for a conference. Not to mention sorting out what I’m doing for my elective. All this whilst going to the gym as frequently as I can (I’ve become a fan of the 8-9am slot!). To counter my gym habits I’ve become a keen baker too, serving a batch of cookies into work last weekend.

Kind of means this blog is being abandoned (sorry!) but I’ll keep doing the best I can.

Categories: General, Uni Tags: , ,

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