Today, volunteering was amazing!
(If you see any red, don't worry its just me being reflective, helps me to spot it later for my personal statement)
So today, me and my buddy finished our jobs and were looking for something to do. So we were like lets just ask the doctors if we could shadow them, and one of the doctors were like yeah, I'll place you each with a doctor today. We were so happy and excited! We spent months there, being frightened of asking the doctors (although we have ask questions, but to shadow them was beyond a no-go area) because they looked so busy so we were surprised when he said of course! So we stayed after for an extra hour and a half for a little shadowing and what a fantastic hour and a half this was!!
I shadowed a FY2 doctor today, she went to UCL, which is really weird because I want to go there too. I'll refer to her as L. Me and L were in the doctors office and the consultant came in and asked her to go with him to check out a patient at ward 20, (we were in ward 1 btw). So we went up there to see the patient. First, they read the history of the patient, so that involved skim reading a lot of the text in her folder so I see how the verbal reasoning section of the UKCAT is useful. They just collected information on how she ended up in the hospital, any medicine she take etc. The patient was around 50+ years old and of an asian background. She came in with symptoms of fainting and breathlessness. The consultant introduced himself and asked with was wrong with her in order to get the correct diagnosis of what may have been causing these symptoms. Through this I learnt that during diagnosis, as a doctor, you do need to have patience because it will take a long time (sometimes) getting sufficient information needed to diagnose someone properly especially if english is not the patient's first language. Also you do need to be able to think on your feet because her symptoms could have been anything! So you have to be able to ask the correct questions as well to diagnose well but I'm sure they'll teach that during the clinical years at medical school.
She has hemolytic anaemia which is where her red blood cells were being broken down by antibodies. She previously had jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of the skin) which is also due to her anaemia, so her treatment was to continue being on blood transfusion to replace her red blood cells. Unfortunately, her blood will be have to checked for the rest of her life because there isn't a treatment out there for this. So for now, she has to rely on the blood transfusions and drug prescriptions. She was prescribed some steroids and immunosuppressant drugs to decrease the amount of antibodies breaking down the red blood cells and her usual diabetic drugs. Afterwards I had to meet L at the doctors office because she had to perform a rectal exam on the patient.
So then, L took me to the CT scanning rooms where I got to see on of these bad boys:
Overall, it was an amazing half and hour and I actually learnt a lot in terms of disease and clinical skills as well. I would love to do it again. I can see how the diagnostic side of being a doctor is an enjoyable part of the job. So much fun and so fascinating.