I’m back home for a 4 day weekend before my shift to the medical rotation for the next 9 weeks. I’m starting with 2 weeks of dermatology then 7 weeks of pure medical, and I’m terrified. Medical is much tougher than surgical, and I am not even trying to be funny. The cure for most surgical problems is ‘cut and throw’ but medical.. there’s where the art of figuring things out and balance comes into play more. And I have an MCR with one of the toughest tutors in slightly over a week. Pray for me!
Anyway, for this week’s Five Friday, I thought I’d talk about the five lessons I’ve learned about being a 3rd year medical student in a hospital. It’s not necessarily anything that different from any other sort of profession, but it’s based on my 7 months of experience and it might be something new for you. So, here we go:
1. 80% of the people find you annoying
Be it the doctors, the nurses, the dietitians, the cleaning crew, the patients: You are regarded as pest. Most of the time. In general, medical students don’t do anything big in hospitals. We bug the nurses to let us do procedures, we stalk the doctors on the rounds much to the vexation of the housemen because they often get shamed in front of us, we take up space in crowded wards, we talk to patients who most of the time, don’t want to be bothered. Which is what makes nice doctors, nice housemen and nurses, nice patients (!!!) so precious. We get the looks from 80% of the staff, the “Oh gosh, not you again”, so a friendly face is very much appreciated.
2. Being nice to nurses pays off
My mom always told me that when she was working in a hospital, what ticked off the nurses were doctors or med students that acted like they were above everyone else just because they have the MD or MBBS behind their names. Always respect the matron, always greet the Sisters and in general, do not piss off the nurses. I do try to stay on their good side but I have gotten a scolding from a Sister in the wards once because I helped a patient who wasn’t suppose to move from his bed. Mortified doesn’t even express how I felt at that moment.
But if you’re nice enough, you’re polite enough, the nurses talk to you really well. Like yesterday, I was in the Operating Room for a biohazardous operation aka they take X-rays in real time, so you have to wear those lead-vest/apron things and no one bothered to tell me where to get them or tell me to get one except the OT nurse who saw me standing alone looking lost. God bless her.
3. Surgeons have bigger egos than physicians
I don’t mean it in a bad way. Well, I kinda do. Surgeons regard themselves as pretty badass, and they are. They cut people up, so yeah, that’s cool. But there’s an ego that comes with it, that’s not.. great. Surgeons act differently: they walk with pride, they are generally ruder, they are not shy about embarrassing their juniors and calling out their mistakes publicly (and loudly!). Physicians are generally nicer in all aspects. But of course, there are exceptions to these rules. The best bedside manner I have ever seen is from one of my tutors, a surgeon named Mr. Razak. He. Is. Awesome. I swear, he makes the patients so comfortable and talks to them so beautifully, you aspire to be him. He always says “surgeons are physicians who know how to do surgery”. Best tutor, kind man and excellent surgeon.
4. Patients withhold information most of the time
Being a medical student has it’s perks. If you build enough rapport with a patient, he or she opens up to you really well. During my last surgical and medical rotation, I went to the wards very often and I talk to the patients I clerked every day, if possible. They’d tell me that they were concern about things, they would cry, they would say things you never find in their file. When the doctors come on rounds, they don’t bring up the issue. I always ask “Why didn’t you tell the doctor about your (insert worry here)?” to which their reply “No, it’ll just bother them”. But heck, doctors should be bothered. It’s kinda sad that the imbalance of the doctor-patient relationship has caused a sort of limitation to what a patient feels like they can tell their attending physician. Hopefully, that will change one day.
5. Teamwork is so important
Be it my group or watching a team of doctors work, teamwork is essential. You cannot have group disharmony because it just causes so many problems. I love my group and my subgroup, we get along really well. Well, 9 of us do but there are a select few who have found issues with a group member and never cease to bring up those issues in childish ways. I can’t bear it. We should be old enough to get over showing your dislike for someone in a public setting. It’s the same for doctors in the hospital: miscommunication with nurses or housemen usually results in a medical officer shouting at someone and the humiliation of the said person. It’s never pretty.
That’s my two cents on the matter. I’m assuming the last one is more relevant in other settings but, maybe there are some similarities for the other 4. I have nine weeks to go for this semester and this year. Wish me luck!