Saturday, March 28, 2009

Week off

No, my cat did not kill me. I had a week of holidays between rotations, and it was lovely. :)

Next week we start in GP land, and I am both curious and trepidatious. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cat Attack!

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Important information that nobody should overlook. ;)

The trouble with blogging . . .

In general I try to be careful about what I say about people in everyday life. I tend to see the good in most people as well as the bad and I know that we are all human, so I think that sticking to the old philosophy of not saying anything unless you have something good to say is a good one. 

Occasionally I will say something but I generally feel bad afterwards, unless the person is a complete monster.

The trouble with blogging at this stage of my medical education is that (quite intentionally):

a) I never write anything about patients, as I have real concerns about confidentiality, particularly as a student;

b) I never write anything about staff, unless it is to share some wonderful piece of advice or experience;

c) Writing about my fellow students would be bad form, again unless they did something awesome and I would be happy to say it to their face.

At the moment I spend most of my time around students, educators and patients, so it kind of restricts what I can write about, but I hope this blog hasn't gotten too off topic. 

Perhaps I should report back on the good things I see done around me. My next rotation is in GP land, so we'll have to see where that takes me on the blogging front.

Friday, March 20, 2009


It feels like a million years ago that I sat the GAMSAT (aka the Grimsat) in order to get into medical school. In fact, it was 2006, but it still feels like a distant memory. Perhaps I have suppressed it, as it is a nasty exam and anybody who walks out thinking that they have done extremely well is either deluded or too intelligent to be in medicine and should just go straight into research. 

Anyway, for all those who are sitting this rough exam tomorrow, GOOD LUCK!

My advice: don't fret, treat it like a practise run, eat well before, during the breaks, rest well before and afterwards, and don't forget that your results depend on where you land in the pack, and everybody else sitting there is human, too. (Everybody except for those hyper-intelligent people who should be into research, and there aren't enough of them to worry about.)

Remember, no matter what, there is always next year. In the meantime, enjoy your life. There are more important things than getting into medicine. :)

A reflection: one down, nine to go!

Today we finished our first rotation for the year, and the first out of the ten total that we have to successfully complete before graduation from medical school.

When I think about the rotation, there are a few things that come to mind. 

We needed to study and learn, but because we were seeing the content in the context of real life, it was infinitely easier to understand and retain. Due to this, I didn't need to study as much as I did during the first two years of the course. I still studied, but my retention rate was higher.

There is no such thing as a perfect rotation, even if it is an area that you are keen on. In truth, this was no surprise, as I did not come down in the last shower and haven't lived a happy little life completely devoid of boredom and pain. 

You can only get as much out of something as you are prepared to put in. If you hang around expecting to be taught but don't see any patients, ask any questions, treat people with respect or ask questions, you will learn nothing. 

I always kept in mind that staff don't get paid for teaching us, and that we are not their main priority. Staff were lovely and apologised when they had to put urgent work ahead of teaching us, and I really didn't even think twice about this - seriously, I'm going to be here for weeks and there is really nothing here that I can't learn later. Plus, if there is urgent work that I can observe or being involved with, I may just learn something different in the meantime. :) 

I am a much happier person undertaking practical activities and talking to patients and staff rather than sitting down with a textbook in a room by myself (in spite of being an introvert), so I find being on prac much less stressful. Plus, the fact that we no longer have huge exams every six months is a godsend.

Anyway, these are some random reflections to celebrate the end of my first rotation. (Yes, I loved it, yes, I want to be a psychiatrist.) I am looking forward to the start of my next rotation, but for now I have a week off. Such luxury! I should enjoy being a student while I can. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


After reading the latest link by MJ at Trust Me, I'm a Mental Doctor, I had to work out my own personality "type" and find the results, just out of curiousity.

Because I know you are all curious, too, or because you just need a laugh, here is what the site said about my own type. (I tried to cut and paste the text but for some reason Blogger won't let me.)

It was good for a laugh, and I really don't mind being called a "Freak" - after all, there are much worse things in the world, right? And no, I'm not in the least psychic, or Schizotypal. :P

Here is a more sensible interpretation, but keep in mind that these things are only generalised tests, so people in real life don't always fit the mould. However, the comment about the "consistently messy desk" was right on the mark. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another clue

I think I have worked out why I am comfortable in psychiatry - I feel open to talking about just about anything with anybody, and I like knowing the details in their stories. I also love having nearly an hour in which to do this, as opposed to the standard ten minute interview that we get in other areas of medicine.

If somebody tells me that they are hearing voices, I want to know where they are actually hearing the voices (in their head, from the television, outside the room etc), whether the voices sound like somebody they know (their neighbours, somebody famous), what the voices are saying to them, whether they think the voices are actually there, what the voices are telling them, whether the voices are talking about them, whether they listen to the voices and what they do when they want them to go away.

It is the same when talking to patients about suicide attempts, self-harm, drug-taking, anxiety or many other aspects of life that we are discouraged from talking about openly in everyday life by society. 

I'm really non-judgmental and relaxed, but am still surprised when people are so open and trusting with the details of their lives. Of course, I know that a lot of them won't tell the whole story, and that many people will consciously lie. However, most are quite ready to open up and talk about their lives to somebody who is interested and who they don't know in everyday life.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my psychiatry rotation (except for the odd slightly rough patch, but no area is perfect) and it is a huge relief, because it is an area that I have been keen on for years. It has been a wonderful way to start third year, and I hope that the rest of the year is just as good. The other rotations will have a lot to live up to. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Measles is making a come-back in our school system. The other diseases that we haven't seen outbreaks of for years due to previously good vaccination statistics will be making a come-back, and whooping-cough is already commonplace. 

Personally, I think that this is terrible. Grown adults made the choice to not vaccinate their children for their own reasons, and now children suffer. The most frustrating part of this is that it won't only be the non-vaccinated who get ill, as vaccines are never 100% effective, so people who chose to vaccinate their children will also have to deal with the consequences of this serious disease. 

When I went to school in the eighties and nineties, measles was unheard of and extremely rare. Now Beerwah High School (close to where I grew up) has seven confirmed cases and another eight with symptoms who are yet to be confirmed.

Thankfully the school took action and at the start of the week told students that they had to provide proof of vaccination against measles or consent to a booster shot, or they would have to go home for at least two weeks. I wonder if it isn't too little, too late.

I dread the day when we need to start treating diphtheria again, but I think that everybody in the medical profession will need to prepare for this possibility.

Part of me respects the choice of parents who do not want to vaccinate. The other part looks on in horror at what is going to unfold because of the luxury of this choice.