Thursday, 9 August 2012

Returning from Madagascar

I have finally completed my World Challenge expedition to Madagascar! After two years of saving and fundraising, all my hard work and determination has paid off!

As I said previously, we spent the first week of the expedition working at Akany Avoko, a children's home that specialises in the care of Malagasy children who have come across some of the worlds many hardships, such as poverty, sexual abuse, mistreatment and being falsely accused of petty crimes. For our part, we spent the week painting 6 different rooms at the home. I learnt a lot on this first week; it was a huge eye opener to be thrown into the culture of a developing country. I know that I want to volunteer in a place like Akany Avoko again; somewhere where I can really make a difference. This week has led me to consider a career in disaster medicine and has further inspired me to work for charities including Medicin Sans Frontiers and Unicef in the future.

The following three weeks of the expedition were spent travelling around the country. We went to Ranomafana National Park, Miradrivazo, Tsiribihina River, Belo, Kirindy Nature Reserve, Morondava and Andasibe National Park. At the parks we spent the time trekking, whilst spotting lemurs and other wildlife unique to Madagascar. During this part of the expedition my teamwork skills were undoubtly improved and my ability to play the role as a leader was also improved on the three days that I became team leader. I believe that this expedition has also helped me to improve upon my confidence in speaking french, as I was one of only two members of the team who could speak the language.

Overall, this experience has been amongst the best of my life. It was not only the expedition that taught me so much about myself, but it was also the years running up to it. I would also like to thank my amazing Expedition Leaders, Dougie lochhead and Emma Jane.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

World Challenge Expedition to Madagascar 2012

I thought I'd take a break from the medical related posts and write about another huge thing in my life at the moment; my World Challenge Expedition to Madagascar this coming July. I have spent the last two years of my life fundraising and preparing for this expedition and now it is only a month away! On this expedition we will be volunteering at Akany Avoko shelter for destitute children and trekking around the midland area of Madagascar (hauts plataux). Please find more information about the shelter at
Bag Packing to raise money at Decathalon.
      I have already learnt so much from this experience, without yet setting off! The main of these is how to budget. Being young, before deciding to go on this expedition, I had not yet learnt the value of money! However, for the past two years all I have done is save and raise the £3,545 that I needed to go on this expedition. I can't pretend that it hasn't been tough raising all this money and I have had to make many sacrifices, but despite this, my determination has got me to my final target! Additionally, I have also developed further my teamwork skills as raising the money has not only been an individual effort, but also a team effort!

A cake sale to raise money.

       I am hoping that these are not the only skills I will acquire from this experience. On the expedition I am hoping to learn and develop skills that will help me to become a successful doctor. I am certain that this experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Volunteering on Ward 403 - an update

I have now been volunteering on Ward 403 at Royal Derby Hospital for nearly 4 months. Although this has been challenging at times, I believe I have learnt many valuable lessons.
         Fistly, my social skills have been put to the test. This is a skill that is essential for all doctors to possess as it could make the difference between life and death for a patient. Whilst on the ward one of my main duties is to talk to patients, as when your stuck in a hospital bed for weeks on end, just having someone to talk to for ten minutes is greatly appreciated. The challenge comes in when the patient can't talk back. On a few occasions, I have been asked by nurses to sit with patients who are unable to talk, sometimes for over an hour. What you have to understand is that in many cases this is the first time in their life that the patient cannot talk, so you must appreciate how frustrating it must be for them. I was asked to sit with an elderly man for a few weeks in a row to remind him that he should not stand up. The first week, it was very difficult to communicate with this patient as the medication he was on made him slightly dellusional and due to his illness he was unable to talk. However, it was a pleasure to watch him recover over the next few weeks and by the end I was able to hold a full, two way conversation with him.  
       Before volunteering, the idea of a hospital ward was fairly foreign to me, so having the oppurtunity to watch the everyday running of a ward has been very valuable. Despite the fact that the jobs I carry out are often menial, I know they are appreciated, not only by the patients, but also the staff on Ward 403. Soon activity packs are going to be introduced on the wards, so we patient support volunteers will be able to offer more than just conversation to patients. This will bring a whole new challenge, one of which I will receive with open arms.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Hospex--Day 3

Yet another fantastic day! I spent all this morning in orthopaedic surgery, observing a hip replacement, followed by knee replacement. This surgery was very different to the delicate surgery I observed yesterday in OMF. It was fascinating to be able to see in detail the way these operations are done and even hold pieces of bone that the surgeon had sawed off, to be replaced.

In these past few days, I have learnt vast amounts, but the main thing that I will take away from this experience, is that in the future I certainly want to follow the career path of a surgeon. The human body never ceases to amaze me and having the opportunity to just observe surgery over the past few days as been a extraordinary, let alone being able to perform it myself sometime in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hospex Course--Day 2

Wow! Today was even better than yesterday, and I thought yesterday couldn't get any better! This morning I got the opportunity to shadow Dr DeNunzio, a consultant radiologist. I was able to observe him performing two balloon angioplasties in the leg. This is a treatment, guided by ultrasound and x-ray, to widen arteries that have become blocked. In order to find the blockage in the artery, a guide wire and catheter are inserted from the groin and dye that can be picked up by the x-rays is flushed through the arteries. It was a brilliant experience to be able to observe this so closely.

Later on in the day, I got the chance to go into one of the hospitals many theatres and observe some truly amazing and life saving surgery. After getting all scrubbed up, I entered theatre 2, where Mr Laugharne and his team had been operating on a woman with a tumour on her tongue. When I arrived, the surgeons had already performed a Tracheotomy to allow the woman to breath without her nose or mouth and they had made an incision from under her ear to under her chin and had began to remove her lymph nodes, where the cancer had spread. I was able to observe the removal of the lymph nodes and then the removal of  the half of her tongue with the tumour on. After this another surgeon began to remove a section of the woman's arm, which would later be transplanted back into her mouth, to replace the part of her tongue which had been removed. Unfortunately, I had to leave before they had transplanted the flap onto her tongue, but nevertheless it was an absolutely unforgettable afternoon.

Thanks to all the doctors who made today possible and explained everything to me. I will never forget today! Tomorrow, I am observing a Trauma and Orthopaedic operation. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Hospex course at Royal Derby Hospital--Day 1

For three days this week I am participating in the Hospex course at Royal Derby Hospital. This is a course for potential medical students. The aim is to give prospective students a good insight into the way a hospital works and a few different specialities of medicine. Today was my first day on the course and I had an amazing time!

In the morning I was based in the Cardiac Catheter Suites, which was absolutly fascinating! Following presentation at Medlink about CABG surgery and coronary artery stents, I have been very interested in these procedures and today I got to see it first hand. Although I was unable to go into the theatres myself due to my age, I was able to observe through a glass window and view the procedure through x-ray imaging. Not only was I able to see a stent put in, but I was able to observe pacemaker surgery. Thank you to all the staff, who explained everything they were doing to me, I don't think I've leant so much in a long time!

After lunch, I got the opportunity to shadow Dr Rebecca Thomas, an F1 on a care for the elderly ward. This experience was as equally interesting as the catheter session in the morning. As all doctors have to go through their foundation years, it was brilliant to have the opportunity to see what they do myself, rather than taking it from the TV! Thanks, to Dr Rebecca Thomas for giving me such an enjoyable and useful afternoon.

I can't wait to learn more tomorrow!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

"Why do you want to be a doctor?"

On Sunday, whilst volunteering at the hospital, I got asked by a lovely old lady I was chatting to, "Why do you want to be a doctor"? This is the most important question for all people applying to medical school, but when I was asked out of the blue, I realised that it is actually a very difficult question to answer! So, I really thought about it and this is why I want to be a doctor...

I first became interested in this career about 3 years ago, when I realised that I was absolutely fascinated with the human body and how it works. So, naturally, the first profession I thought of when I thought of the human body was, of course, a doctor. Now this by itself is a poor excuse to study medicine, but it was not until I started looking into the career and gaining experience, that I really started getting into the idea. I now have a clear idea of what the job of a doctor entails, and I believe I could fill that role perfectly.

Firstly, I enjoy talking to people, whether I know them or not. Being a doctor, not only requires you to talk to patients, but it is also necessary to have good communication skills, so as to ensure the best possible care for your patients.

Having the ability to work in a team is also a skill every doctor should posses, and I believe I do. I play hockey every week with my team, Woodlands Ladies Hockey Club, and have had many team experiences such as, Duke of Edinburgh. However, being a doctor may also require you to take the lead once in a while and through being a Young Leader at Brownies, coaching hockey to younger pupils, being a peer mentor and taking part in both the Buddy Reading and Buddy Science schemes, I feel I have successfully developed good leadership qualities.

All these things might explain why I would be suited to a career in medicine, but do not explain why I WANT TO BE A DOCTOR! It was only on reflection that I realised the answer to this. I have often found myself in situations where someone has been in need of medical help, sometimes more critically than others. In some of these situations I have been able to offer assistance. For example, when a young brownie fell over and face-planted into a stage, I found myself immediately rushing to help her and I am pleased to say, I succeeded in calming her down and stopping the nose bleed that the fall had caused. However, from time to time I have found myself wanting to do more. Last year, I was visiting Chatsworth with my family when I heard screaming for help. Of course, I followed my instincts and ran as fast as I could to the screams. When we arrived, we discovered that an old man on a mobility scooter who had strayed from the path, had come of his scooter, rolled down a hill and landed in the stream at the bottom. I knew that I could not offer help to this man, but I still knew how to help him. We ensured the ambulance and mountain rescue services had been called and then scrambled down the hill, and sat there with him and kept him talking, until more help arrived.

SO! This is the conclusion I have come to. I want to be a doctor because:

· I believe I posses all of the correct skills to become a successful doctor.

· I am very interested in the human body and science in general.

· From being put in situations where someone is in need of help, I have learnt that there is some sort of instincts inside me that always rushes to help the person in need, I do not panic under pressure and that I always want to do more for the person in need, even when I have done all that I can.