Friday, January 30, 2009

Me and my motor mouth - I spoke too soon!

Whoops! Today was awesome, and I really enjoyed it. Even though the patients are very ill, they (for the most part) are friendly and I like talking to them. I think we need to be more proactive, and this week I have probably been more guilty of the "student huddle" than I have ever been in the past. (We weren't as bad as I have encountered as a staff member working around medical students, but still . . .) This changed, as of today, and as a result we got a LOT more out of the day, and plan to continue on like this in the future.

One thing that I find fantastic about psychiatry is that you don't consider the aspects of their illness or personality in isolation. It needs to be considered in the full context of their life - personal history, health, family history, genetics, support networks, coping skills, life stressors and so on and so forth. It really is a wonderful way to look at a person, and I love the way that it allows you to see them as a WHOLE person and not just a walking example of a DSM-IV category.
I have always been a sucker for a complex story, and psychiatry is really getting stories out of people for a living, so I suspect that as I get better at the interview and see more professionals do it, I will enjoy it more and more. 
I think that to understand patients (and indeed everybody in your life) properly, you have to see them as multi-faceted people who have both positive/healthy and negative/pathological traits, and who have the capacity to change (some more than others) with work and guidance. Everybody has potential to live a more comfortable and happy life, and I think that is something worth striving for.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Psych So Far . . .

has not been the most fun rotation ever. 
I haven't seen any patient interviews, and I have a hard time finding my registrar, haven't even met the consultant yet, and not from lack of trying. The others in my rotation are having the same issues. Next week should be different, I hope.
Thankfully there are plenty of patients who seem happy to talk, and the nursing staff are very friendly and helpful. 
I'm actually a very patient and easy-going person, and know that we will learn a lot more in the coming weeks with the tutorials and education sessions that the university and staff are running, as well as with the time that we will be spending with the patients on our own. I would love to actually see a psychiatrist in action, and I'm looking forward to seeing this in the weeks to come.
I am also well aware of how busy the psychiatrists are, and am very grateful for the time that they have spent talking with us so far. Their main job IS to look after the patients, after all. Fingers crossed that I get to see more of this first-hand soon.
Psychiatry is a very interesting area, and no matter what area I work in, a sound knowledge of how to deal with personality disorders is going to be a valuable life skill. ;)

Monday, January 26, 2009

One more sleep until third year!

Tomorrow is the first day of Year Three. I have ironed my shirts for the week, and realise that I REALLY need to go shopping and buy shirts that I don't need to iron. I am really bad at ironing (probably because I just don't care enough), and it uses up valuable energy and thus is bad for the environment. ;)
I am having those night-before jitters, and am pondering deep questions, such as whether or not there will be a fridge close by where I can store my lunch, and what to wear. (Considering that I will be spending time outside in the middle of the day and it is disgustingly hot and humid right now, the wrong choice of outfit could cause considerable discomfort to both me and everybody who comes within a reasonably close radius.)
I'll also get to meet the students with whom I'll be spending this rotation, and I hope we get along. 
I have gotten so used to being a full-time student over the past two years, and have come to take for granted the kind of freedom that this entails. As much as I have enjoyed it, I have to admit that I am really looking forward to getting into a routine again. I get much more done when I am organised and busy, and thrive on having things to do, although lately I have also gotten good at enjoying my down-time. 
So, on to bigger and better things. I'm very excited. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Plan of Goodness and Stuff

I'm not quite sure how I am going to start of the study for the year in Psychiatry, but I have some plans that shouldn't be too hard to work through. Here it goes:
1. Get to know the drugs a lot better. I know how the classes work, but I need to be more familiar with their names and how they are used, and seeing this clinically should help a lot.
2. Memorise the main diagnoses of the DSM-IV that I don't already know (such as personality disorders).
3. Do a lot of patient interviews, depending on how the department works and how happy the patients are to sit down for an interview.
4. Spend time seeing how the department functions, and hopefully slot in somewhere. This is the part that I am most uncertain about, but I'll be tagging along and hopefully not be the ultra-passive student who just sits in the corner and says nothing. I think I need to have some faith in my own ability to communicate and know what is appropriate.
5. Learn the public health component that they slot into this part of our course. Joy.
I know that we have an orientation at the start of the rotation, so hopefully that will answer a few questions.
In the meantime, I need to go shoe shopping. Adios! 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Year Three Begins!

I am still here, I am still alive, I am still a medical student, and I am even happier than ever. :)
I have passed second year and done well. All of the stress and the worry over the exams was really for nothing, although I'm sure that just about every medical student who has ever been through this process could attest to having felt the same way. 
After having a rough year, I had the luxury of actually experiencing a proper holiday, and spent the last few months resting and recuperating at home. It was quite lovely, and I have not let myself have time off like this in years. I can recommend it to anybody who has the opportunity!
Of course, we went away to visit family for a few weeks, which was also fantastic, and I managed to gain back the weight I had managed to lose in the weeks between exams and the trip, but such is life. At least I had fun doing it. 
Everybody I know is so excited about starting third year. We are all going off into different rotations, so it will take extra effort to stay in touch, but at least we will have a lot to tell each other when we do catch up. My first rotation is in Psychiatry, and I have been looking forward to it since day one of medical school.
I will try to post more regularly here in the coming year, and make it more relevant to medical school. That said, everything will still be confidential, and I will be very careful to not mention anything about the patients themselves. I have been tempted to make this blog private, and may yet do this in the future, depending on what I want to write about. Time will tell.