As usual we had our ward round first thing after handover meeting. Because Mr W was on call the weekend before, we had a good number of patients under our care – all of their problems were unbeknownst to me as I didn’t have time to catch up with them on my first day. So, I asked a list of patients under us from SK, which I wasn’t meant to have it as a 4th year, but because SK was new in Dunedin hospital – he just came from the UK so he didn’t know anything about students etc etc, he gave me without questions. Of course, I was very careful not to breach patient confidentiality and disposed the list in the right place.
I got the list and began to know their histories by reading their clinical notes. I wrote down the things that I didn’t know for me to learn, lest the consultants ask me during ward rounds. What I’ve learnt from the whole 4th year was, it was very important to know your patients, because that was how you are going to learn, not from the books. Because they were under your team’s care, you should also feel like they were your patients. They were under your care, and you should be responsible to know what happened to them. I felt like this time around I was more prepared to get involve within the team and be more proactive for my own learning.
Our usual timetable for Tuesdays is having pre-admission clinics. It is where we check the patients that should be having their surgeries the next day or the next week. It is just to make sure that they are fit to be put under general anaesthetic and going through the whole surgery in one piece. They are usually very fit, and rarely have problems. The house officers who are usually busy with other paperworks will ask the 4th years in the team to do this clinic – take hx, examinations etc and present it back to them. It is a good way to practice our OSCEs.
So today, we had 5 patients to be seen. That, to me, sounded a lot because I usually only have one or 2 patients to pre-admit in the past team. So, I offered help to my house officer to see a few patients. I was definitely more keen today than yesterday, and I was doing really well, more comfortable and confident while taking histories, doing examinations etc. It was a busy clinic with the nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons came to have a chat with them as well.
I was just finished with a patient, waiting to present it to the SM who was busy doing paperworks for other patient when Mr W came to us and said something about one of the patients. I was sitting beside SN, didn’t really understand the conversation.
Mr W was saying thank you to SN and was about to leave the room when he suddenly looked at me and greeted me,
And pat me on the back.
Yes, he pat me on the back, and asked: is everything alright?
I was astounded to the gesture that I was just nodding to that question and didn’t really say anything. Mr W left and I just got on with my work, presenting the patient to SN – with a very different feeling deep down in my heart.
I was almost got teary by Mr W’s gesture. For the first time, I felt like he acknowledged my existence and my effort. I felt like I was a person in his eyes, that I was his student in the team. It was really a major motivation booster for the rest of my day.
I went back home on that day feeling empowered and motivated and that pat on the back “should do me for the rest of my extra time in surgery”