First Patient, NHS cards and idiotic classmates. All in a days work.

Actual date 5/2/13

This week has been a very good week.

I found out that I’d passed my exams, which is obviously good. I only just passed, but on this course at this stage it doesn’t matter, as long as I pass I’m happy. I also got my NHS card. In a way this is more exciting than passing my exams. It is my proof to the world that I am a medical student, I am training to be a doctor. The fact that it is also my gateway to 50% discount at Dominos has nothing to do with it…honest. Getting the NHS card was a ballache. We had to fill in a form, have it signed by the clinical education officer in our hospital (that queue took 20 minutes) then go over to Estates and Services. This is in a shed on the other side of the hospital, which meant a walk outside. Currently there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground and in slick shoes, this was quite a treacherous walk.

When we got there (I was in the first group of 4 that had managed to find our way over having got everything else signed) we were told that they (the 4 members of staff sat there) were too busy to deal with issuing cards and to come back later. As they didn’t seem to actually be doing anything, I questioned this and was informed that two of them were on their lunch break (aka on Facebook) and that the other two couldn’t leave the phone. You know, in case someone rang and wanted to speak to both of them at once. However there is no arguing with these people. So we decided we would have to brave the elements again, and informed our colleagues  of this misfortune as we passed them on their way to the shed.

I’ve ranted about the NHS wasting money before, but this is just another example of it. Why weren’t the forms pre-signed? It wasted our time, the clinical supervisors time (therefore the NHS’s money) and the time of the two DOCTORS that escorted us there and stood around doing nothing while we waited. Another waste of NHS money. The thing that really got me though was the estates services, they were really taking the biscuit. It does not take two people to supervise a phone. I’ve done a bit of digging.. and the estates support and secretarial services to this hospital are not provided by the NHS. They are outsourced to another company, which is probably charging the NHS a premium rate for these people. This means that they can take 2 hour lunch breaks because they aren’t accountable to anyone in the hospital. How long before we start contracting out lab services, or nurses? It’s just a joke.

In between this and going back to get my card, I examined my first patient. I’ve listened to 30 or so hearts in uni, but they are all medical students and all healthy. This time it was someone that had come in asking for medical help. Of course a team of doctors had already diagnosed the problem, but we weren’t told what it was, we (I) had to figure that out for ourselves.

So, I took a history from the patient, took his pulses listened to his heart and heard a murmur (aortic stenosis – where the valve that controls blood flow out of the heart has become narrowed creating a distinctive noise). This was awesome. I felt on top of the world as my group congratulated me (after we’d left the patients room and washed our hands). There have been one or two moments since I started that I have questioned whether I was doing the right course for me. In those moments, when I heard that crescendo-diminuendo over the aortic area, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. It was an incredible feeling, absolutely incredible.

The only negative part of the whole experience was when I was listening to the patients carotid arteries (to check if I could hear the murmur there as well – a sign of aortic stenosis). These arteries run up the patients neck, just to the side of the voice box. While I was doing this and concentrating very hard a member of the group I was with that day asked the patient a question. And the patient responded. Stethoscopes are designed to hear very slight noises and amplify them quite dramatically. So when someone talks into the diaphragm of your stethoscope, it is deafening. I physically jumped backwards and glared at the girl in question. Of all the people in my group, she should have known better as she is a resitting student therefore has done this before. I was not happy.

But, nothing could really  bring me down after I got the murmur right. To top it off, I managed to get my NHS card. So, to celebrate. I went straight to Dominos.

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