It can be quite disorientating being thrown into an unfamiliar environment and being expected to perform. Work experience can be uncomfortable and difficult but it’s also where you finally begin to spread your wings and start to put all the pieces together.
Being a medical student means that work experience is a careful balance of observing doctors at work and interacting with patients. In the medical school here in Dundee it means getting that experience from day one.
Last year I decided to do a short 4-week block in the Cardiology department as part of my SSC (Student Selected Component) – a block in the curriculum that allows you to choose an area of interest to explore.
Like most blocks it began with a brief of what was expected of us and we paired off to make sure we got to experience as many aspects without disrupting the wards.
This is what our time table roughly looked like
The next few weeks was a series of clinics, tutorials and procedures that we were allowed to observe and learn from. If there was one thing that impressed me it was the cohesiveness of the medical teams that worked together. From acute cases to patients that were called in months later for procedures and follow-ups it was amazing to look at the hospital as one unit opposed to singular departments. I had the privilege of speaking to patients, learning their stories and their medical history.
It was a small taste of what working as a junior doctor would be like. Equally important was getting used to timetabling ourselves and working around the department. We had to set up our own appointments and work around each other to cause the least disruption.
When we finished I had a log of everything we had experienced (to be used as part of my submission). This is an example of one of the pages.
Overall an incredibly fulfilling 4 weeks!