Here at OIC we strive to ensure our students leave us as not only academically gifted students, but students with real-life experience of the careers they hope to pursue. Our super-curricular team work hard with students to ensure they are able to get this experience with local organisations during the College holidays. This October a number of students headed off on such placements.
Here, an OIC student and aspiring medic, gives her account of her time at Oxford Children’s Hospital:
For my work experience, I was placed with the Paediatric surgery team at Oxford Children’s Hospital. John Radcliffe Hospital, which the children’s hospital is part of, is Oxfords main accident and emergency site. John Radcliffe Hospital provides acute medical and surgical services including trauma, intensive care and cardiothoracic services.
The night before the placement began, I had various thoughts of what I was expecting. Was I going to be with nurses all day, since the doctors are so busy? Will they mock me if I ask them ‘silly’ questions? What if I can’t find my way to the office? These thoughts haunted me and caused me to have a nightmare. I woke up the next day feeling butterflies in my stomach. However, all these thoughts disappeared when I met Mr Lee, the consultant, and his team, who I would shadow for the rest of the week. They were all very friendly and approachable. They chatted with me and took me to wherever I was scheduled to be.
On the first day of placement, I arrived at the doctors’ office at 7.45am for handover. This is where every doctor reports events that have taken place during the night shift and everyone receives a patient list for the day. I then followed the team for ward rounds in few paediatric wards including the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The paediatric wards are decorated with many toys and colourful decorations which feels like home. I met a baby without an anus, another with a diaphragmatic hernia and one with twisted testicles.
In the afternoon, I shadowed a registrar who cut stitches and took out a tube connecting the kidney of a 11-year-old boy, without anaesthetic. He was really brave and didn’t even make a sound during the process. The registrar then told me to feel the boy’s abdomen after his checkup for abnormality, it feet like poking a bag of crisps. The overwhelming first day ended with few interesting cases in the surgical clinic, such as a boy with a history of parasitic infection who came with a potential gallstone, another with foreskin problems and excess tissue on umbilical cord. I got to see chemical burning with silver sulfadiazine, which prevents infection and prepares the wound on the umbilical cord to close.
On the second day, I encountered a patient whose family doesn’t speak English, or other languages spoken by staff and doctors. Doctors spent over an hour to fill in the consent form, this made me realise how important it is to learn a different language. You won’t know when it might be useful in the future. In addition, I experienced the boring side of being a doctor, which is spending most of their time doing administration, such as calling parents or going to daycare ward to reserve beds for patients arriving that day, making prescriptions, filing reports and writing discharge letters.
In the afternoon, I was invited to join the multi-disciplinary team meeting of the Paediatric Gastroenterology team. This is a time to discuss patient’s conditions, follow-up treatments and pre-surgery issues where they need to be in contact with other paediatric departments, such as the cardiology team and the surgery team if the patient requires surgery. They shared the experience of how they deal with difficult or stubborn patients or family members as well. I then went to the urodynamics room with a nurse practitioner where they measure the flow of urine of children. The majority of the reason behind the abnormality is because of not drinking enough water or going to toilet regularly enough.
On the third day, I went to a pre-surgery meeting in the speciality surgery ward in JR hospital with plastic surgeons, a nurse practitioner, few consultants and a physiotherapist. Then, I was so fortunate to have an opportunity to shadow Mr Lamyman, a consultant in Plastic surgery, in the specialist surgery ward for the morning ward round. Here I saw many exposed tendons, exposed knee caps, etc. After that, I followed him to the outpatient hand injuries clinic, the Hapi Clinic. In the afternoon, I followed a plastic surgeon back to the paediatric day care ward for clerking for babies with orofacial clefts.
On the fourth day, I met few in-patients and out-patients that has sigmoid colostomy, where a stoma was placed on their tummy, connecting to the large intestine for excretion. I shadowed a consultant in paediatric gastroenterology and her team, including an anaethestist. The anaethestist told me that he understood all diseases that need to be treated by operation from past experiences and can make sure they have the correct dose of anaesthetic required for different patients, as well as teaching me how to use and read the machines that measure vital signs.
On the last day, I participated in the weekly neonatal grand round with all paediatric surgeons where they discuss future treatments, current condition of the babies and the x-ray MDT with them and radiologists. In the afternoon, it was my last surgical clinic tour with Mr Ashour, another consultant in paediatric surgery. I encountered few cases of retraction of testicles into the abdomen due to overactive muscle. Mr Ashour taught me the reason behind this and treatments for it.
Overall, this is a mind-blowing and memorable experience. I was fully immersed in the working life of a Paediatrician, which started each day at 7.45am and ended at 6pm. The whole placement led me to investigate more about paediatrics. This career is tough, stressful, and requires a lifelong commitment. However, seeing the smiley faces on recovering children and babies really helped me get through the exhausting days during my time there. It has also given me more motivation to study hard for my A-levels, in order to pursue my dream of studying medicine, and then paediatric surgery as a speciality, in the future.
There aren’t enough words or ways to express how grateful and thankful I am to everyone in Oxford Children’s hospital, and I can’t wait until the time we meet again in the future.
For more information about Oxford Children’s Hospital, click here.