Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hunting for patients

Today I went to the NSW art museum. It was a welcome break from classes. Not to say that classes have been particularly difficult, but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. The exhibit I went to was artwork from Australian high school kids through a program that allows their work to be shown in a true gallery/museum. It was all very impressive, especially since my artistic skills are minimal. One piece that caught my eye was a cardboard cutout of a physician without a face and a price tag around his neck. The item was labeled “predator”, which bothered me and in the next room was another cutout, this one of a dog with a price tag around his neck titled “genius.” This one I liked.
Writing this now it makes sense although probably not in the way the student was thinking. Especially as first year med students, we do act like predators although with a hint of scavenger. We are told to practice taking histories of patients, so we wander around the hospital, trying to be blend in, asking the nurses if there are any good patients we can talk to. Now good has many meanings, first it would be great if the sickness is interesting, second you want a patient willing to talk, but not too willing otherwise you end up hearing about how their great aunt once removed died from some unknown illness. Although this may be interesting, when reporting back to your tutor, it for some reason doesn’t come across as pertinent. Finally, you hope another student did not beat you to them, since that means the patient has now, not only given a history to the nurse, the initial doctor, possibly a specialist, maybe some other doctor, possibly a resident (technically I know they are doctors too), and a student the patient tends to either not be willing or he leads the interaction because he knows the questions better than I do. Fortunately, there are not that many students at my hospital and hunting, I mean finding patients isn’t too hard.

It is now week 7 of 8 and we are about to finish the Foundation Block. What this has meant is that every week we are given a new case dealing with a major representative illness, heart attack, anorexia, cancer, PKU (a genetic defect in metabolism), and a dental abscess. All of which are meant to briefly expose us to the methodology of analyzing cases and some of the basics surrounding them. In the future our blocks will deal with a specific area such as, musculoskeletal, cardiac, respiratory, etc. where we will have multiple cases dealing with the same organ system for the whole 8 weeks. The problem right now is that my excitement to understand more detail is quickly derailed by the introduction of a new case. Needless to say I will be happy in the next block when we actually focus on the musculoskeletal system.
The foundation block is great though because it does get us acquainted with the system and it allows our involvement in the multitude of social activities going on these first weeks. It seems that almost every night there is something to do, from parties to lectures, all of which seem to have alcohol encouraged, either free or discounted. I kid you not, I went to a lecture/debate on stem cell research and afterwards there was not only food, but beer, wine, and juice offered, for free. Eager to meet new people I have gone to many events, although I have also turned down many nights out to be the geek and study at home. I am working on finding the balance.

Non medical stuff. Sydney does have decent mountain biking!! I have found an engineering student who rides and has a car. So we have been to multiple sites all within 30 min of home and although different from the great NW it exceeds my expectations. Lots of sandstone, (read bumpy) and sand going through the bush. Additionally, I am told there is even better riding, an hour and a half away in the Blue Mountains.

3 Comments:

Anonymous DO-X said...

Glad you are finding time to ride.

I really like the format you have with the problem based system. My school is a traditional instituition with more of a subject approach: Pathology, Immunology, Biochem, Physiology etc. This gets boring.

I think the problem/case based method makes immediate connections between patient problem and doctor problem solving. I think you will master the info quickly.

Late.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Thats all fine and good, but how are their pancakes?

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Monica said...

Ummmm Blueberry pancakes.... Hey.. How's your transplant skills lately? I'll let you practice on me if I ever need a kidney... You never know :) And I fully expect you to find me one :)

5:08 PM  

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