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First rotation, done and dusted!

Hi again, it’s been a while! I’ve finished my first five-week rotation at Frankston, covering Orthopaedics and Plastics, and thought I’d write a little about my experiences.

It’s been a slow process of getting settled in and understanding the layout of the hospital. Most of this is learning what is required of us and what more we can find to do. For me, many days started with ward rounds, after a quick discussion of the patients that a department is responsible for. Ward rounds vary from day to day and ward to ward – one team may have two or three doctors who both have a lot of input, but another may have over ten people (including other health professionals) trying to squeeze around the bed. These busy occasions are very intimidating, and I have definitely learned to stay as quiet as possible (except perhaps to mutter that the patient’s vital signs are all stable to the person writing up the notes).

I spent a lot of time in clinics, which is some of the most valuable learning we can receive. We either sat in with a doctor, observing their discussion and examination of patients, or were sometimes able to interview patients privately while they were waiting to be seen. Most of us have had very little experience with real patients – our pre-clinical exams involved actors pretending to be sick – and we quickly learned strategies to be able to communicate better in these encounters and keep the conversation on track. Getting to organise our notes and then present what we learned back to a supervisor was also beneficial for us, as we’ll be explaining thousands of patients’ cases to senior doctors in the future.

Then of course there’s surgery. Most students are pretty desperate to dive into the operating theatre as soon as possible – to observe, or if we’re extremely lucky, to scrub in (suiting up in the fancy blue plastic to get a better look or do some minor assisting). The variety of procedures we get to see is pretty fantastic, and even though this is a prime opportunity for doctors to drill you with tricky questions, it’s some of the most fun and engaging time at the hospital. My current goal is to get over my difficulty breathing comfortably through the masks we have to wear – it feels unbelievably stifling and claustrophobic, but I’m sure practice is about all I can do to fix that.

So between all the above, assorted meetings and workshops, as well as traditional tutorials and lectures that we get in the hospital, we’re pretty busy! I’ve had the horrible realisation that my body clock doesn’t seem to be at all willing to adjust to early morning starts after the summer, but all I can do is continue to develop my caffeine addiction and hope for the best. Another thing I have to mention is that everyone at the hospital is far nicer than I ever could have imagined they’d be – even when you really mess something up. Years of watching medical TV shows featuring vindictive and domineering doctors had me a little scared, but from just the five weeks I’ve had at Frankston, I feel really pleased that there’s nothing even remotely resembling that here.

While I’m still wandering around, a little confused and tired, I’m feeling engaged and supported, and I know that every day I’m going to be learning something new and brilliant. That’s all I can really ask for! I’m off to the Alfred for my next rotation, and I have asked another lovely student to fill in for me in the meantime. While you’re waiting for my next post, feel free to suggest topics or ask questions that you’d like me to address. I want to make sure you’re getting a good idea of what we’re up to.

All the best, Claire.

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