What to do on placements?

This is something I never understood until I started more full time placements. It’s hard as a med student to balance learning, down time, and ward time but also it’s very difficult when you feel like you’re in the way on the wards and don’t know what to do with yourself. So here is my advice on what to do:

-Befriend the team. If they’re looking out for you they will get you involved.

-Go to a few ward rounds. Write in the notes as if you are an F1. Take a history from a patient and present them on the ward round. Scary, but if you mess up you will never make that mistake again.

-Follow a junior. The consultants do lots of busy consultant things. But the juniors do all the work you’re going to do. Help them out. Do their jobs for them. Take their bloods etc. They might teach you in return, but even if they don’t it is good practice.

-Just talk to the patients. Pick one from each bay. They’re bored. Most of them love a good chat. Take a history, examine them, and then find someone to present to if you’re really brave.

-Ask someone where you’ll find the most classic patients. Clinics or wards? And spend time there.

-When you hear of a new patient coming in through AMU etc, find them, take a history and follow them through the day. Even better, follow them up throughout the week. You’ll learn their case and remember it if you remember them personally.

-Get in on a surgery list and ask to scrub in. The worst they can say is no. But nothing cements in your mind the layers of the abdomen by watching someone slice through them while you help.

-Spend time in the library, but not too much time. Learn through doing.

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