Intercalating Medical Student, George Altman, is currently enjoying a year away from medicine studying Healthcare, Ethics and Law. However, last year, George was right in the thick of it on placement at Salford Royal Hospital. To George, practical work is far more beneficial than theory work so the opportunity to go on a year long placement at a hospital was something that should have helped him immensely. Let’s find out how he got on…
What was your experience like on clinical year?
It was a big change going into the clinical environment, the routine is very different, what’s expected of you is different; it feels more like a job than university. However, it is much more suited to my learning style in the respect that it’s more practical and hands on. I feel like you can learn things a lot better if you apply it to a real life patient, and being on placement meant that I got to do just that. I got to witness a lot of really interesting things and had plenty of great experiences, with a particular highlight being able to observe consultants perform high skilled procedures. I definitely learnt a lot.
Did you get to do much?
I got given a set selection of tasks each day that I had to complete. These tasks included things like prescription charts and observation tasks. Like I said earlier, in my opinion taking observations is a really effective way of learning as you get to see first-hand how certain things are actually mean to be carried out in practice on real life patients. It’s all well and good knowing the theory behind it, but unless you actually know how to do something, the theory is pointless. We each had our own iPad’s where we had to complete UPSA’s. For example, observations, taking blood, measuring blood sugar, urine dipstick and catheterisations – however, in the end we didn’t get to do those but we did learn about them.
How did your degree prepare you for it?
I think the best bits of preparation were the communication skills work that we did in the Consultation Skills Learning Centre (CSLC). We worked with actors and simulated patients and went over the different scenarios that you can come across which was really useful. We also prepped for the skills part of phispharm by practicing on other people. From a knowledge point of view I got a basic level of knowledge from problem based learning (PBL), however, that’s not clinical, so it was a case of taking that knowledge and incorporating it in to a clinical frame of mind.
What is a typical day in the hospital like?
It was quite an early start, as I usually started at either 9 or 10, so I would have to set off from Fallowfield at around 8ish. Once I arrived I would have a meeting with the consultant and do a ward round. This is where we’d go round the ward checking up on all the patients within it. In the afternoon we would conduct activities in small groups. For example two of us might go and see a consultant’s clinic or we might have some teaching etc.
How are you supported by the university whilst on placement?
The University of Manchester organised clinical debriefs, which took place every week for two hours, where they got a doctor to come and sit with us discuss any problem, issues or questions we had. It was kind of like a ‘shape your own learning’ session where we would often talk about things we had come across on the wards. We would then present patients and discuss how we could have done something differently or talk about a situation that we came across which we believe we could have dealt with better. We would then go through situational judgement questions and sometimes people would come in and do talks on different treatments to enable us to expand our learning.