Monday, May 16, 2011

Keen as keen can be

I just finished my first week of my clinical rotation in cardiology.

It was the most freaking awesome week I've ever had.

The first couple of weeks in the first clinical year are where you find all the super-keen students; everyone itching to learn the mundane tasks of writing in notes in ward rounds, learning how to do discharge summaries and *gasp* cannulating patients! Except they are far from mundane right now; everything is new, and everything is exciting. Write in the next patient's notes? What a privilege! Asked to interpret the patient's ECG? Wouldn't miss it for the world! Want to hold the patient's charts? I could hold it all day and night!

Okay, so I'm probably just a little bit abnormal. But the buzz of starting the hospital rotations has not really left, and I sure hope it continues for a good few weeks. This honeymoon period is what I need to catch up on my laziness in the last couple of years, making it up by focusing all my efforts on learning what I need to understand to best understand the patients now under my team's care.

There are of course a few things that I've garnered from this first week. The most important thing was that I realised I would've benefited an enormous amount if I had exerted as much effort studying in the pre-clinical years as I am sure to do this year. This is, in hindsight, quite a difficult thing for me to have done because there was not really as much stimulus to study (i.e. no patient list to care for), but nonetheless, I keep thinking about all those hours gaming away and feel it's just a little bit lost. Oh well. This is one of the reasons why I don't like super notes (which are like condensed study notes produced by students in the years above) for PBL cases (and subsequently never used them); it takes away the (imaginary) patient's role in stimulating learning, and I think that is one of the key advantages to a PBL-centred course. It doesn't last very long, true, but I think that part of the reason is because classmates begin to use supernotes, so discussion begins to be a little bit hampered by the fact that, in essence, the PBL tutorials are rendered accessory and auxiliary. The second thing I realised was that it would be difficult to then revise all that pre-clinical stuff if it was never really absorbed well, since the clinical side has now taken over and many questions to registrars are along the lines of why or how questions, as opposed to the what. The third thing I've realised is that, paradoxically, I'm now playing more piano than I ever was. Random, yes. Applicable, well... I consider piano-playing to be a form of productive procrastination, like wikipedia (as opposed to, say, eBay, or watching toddlers pinch each other). So my procrastination (if any) seems to now take a more productive form. Which is a nice thing to happen. It's a phenomenon that many may experience throughout their periods as a student; the more pressure there is to complete a task in a limited amount of time, the more likely it is that the amount of time devoted to that task is increased. A rather curious phenomenon indeed - but something I'm going to take advantage of; 50-hour weeks are shrinking my potential study time by a good amount.

Oh, and I've still got extracurricular roles back at Campbelltown campus and UWS in general. Well, at least I don't have to cook.


  1. Hi Luke,

    I'm just a random reading your blog but wow, your clinical placement sounds really fascinating. I love reading about your journey as you progress through medicine. I particularly love the idea how you are putting learnt stuff in lectures to the actual medical context.

    Just something I want to ask though, how are the hours in the pre-clinical years of medicine at UWS? And how heavy is the anatomy content? I'm studying physio and there's so much anatomy, do you think it will be just as heavy as it is in my course? Haha, I'd love to hear what you think!

  2. Hi Katie,

    Haha, thanks :) From what I've heard through those currently studying physio, as well as a friend of mine who did physio, you guys cover anatomy better than we do. I guess it's because physio is a bit more specialised and so can afford to spend more time on anatomy - which is really good to know well because, although medical students complain that it's rather useless (in that it is rarely tested in exams other than specific anatomy tests, and that there isn't much anatomy in the majority of medical specialities), it helps visualisation of the body and thus, in my opinion, understanding it more comprehensively.

    The hours are pretty good pre-clinically - something like 16-17 contact hours, three and a half days a week, basically. So yeah, definitely not bad - obviously, the school expects you to study hard in the spare time you have ;)