Coping with Situations for the First Time (Medic Series) 🏥

I recently got a BMA update about to cope with medical situations when you experience them for the first time. I thought it was super important to remember for my own self but also for others in a similar position. Disclaimer some of the content is direct from the BMA Site. I thought I would share some of my experiences too.
1. How is it going to feel?
Your first cadaveric dissection can be an unsettling experience. It is important that you prepare for it in advance, as the way you think about death will go a long way to shaping what kind of a doctor you become.

Here at UCL we still do full body dissection thanks to the gracious people that donate their bodies to medical research. I think the first time I went to the dissection lab, I didn't know what to expect but I just went in very open minded. I thought I would be worried or maybe even overwhelmed but I ended up just digging straight in. I think as long as you remember to treat the body with respect and how you would want to be treated if the situation was reversed, it's an enjoyable experience. At the end of the day, you've got the most incredible learning tool so you should take full advantage of it.

For everyone who doesn't do dissections this will sound really odd but it makes you super hungry! We've decided it because of the formaldehyde smell...

2. Meet the parents
It is a privilege to be at the birth of a baby, but it can also be overwhelming. Students should prepare themselves by ensuring they know what their role will be during the delivery and meeting the parents beforehand.

I've only had an experience with birth so far in Tanzania. It was such an amazing trip with Gap Medics and I got the incredible opportunity to not only witness three live birth but also help deliver a baby. I'm sure it's a totally different experience in the UK but I just remember thanking and congratulating the momma on her strength and beautiful new bundle of joy. I specifically learnt the words in their language because at the end of the day, I was encroaching on their lives and not the other way around.

3. Don't take it personally
Don't take it personally, be candid about what you can and cannot do, and don't lose your temper. Michael Peters has some advice for dealing with angry patients.

I'm never afraid to admit my faults and while I haven't always been good at it, I am getting better. I think it's important to remember that admitting your faults isn't a weakness but I strength as you have the courage to show your vulnerabilities, to be open and to be honest with not only yourself but others too.

4. Finding your feet
Advice for making maiden ward-round presentations bearable: do your homework, treat your patient as an individual and don't whatever else you do attempt to bluff it if you can't answer a question.

Obviously, this has yet to be a part of my experience but I think with the limited OSCE station practice and literal teaching, the emphasis is definitely on be prepared to not know the answer and say you will look it up later, but remember you will usually know more than the patient regardless of if you think you know nothing or not.

5. Like drawing blood from a stone
Michael Peters offers advice to medical students about how to take blood for the first time. Watch experienced colleagues, build a rapport with your patient and don't panic - lots of practice will make perfect.

I can't even begin to explain how nervous I am to take blood but by the end of the school year, I should be a boss! ...hopefully. Whenever I've watched people take blood, I've always seen how they put the patient at ease especially nervous one.

6. Welcome to the Big Pond
When you begin your medical degree you may find that, unlike at school, you are not always top of the class, but just one of many bright, motivated people. Read our advice on dealing with the feelings this may provoke.

This seriously couldn't be more true! I've never thought of myself as intelligent because it was just who I was but when I got my grades at GCSEs, A-Levels and even getting into Medical School, I was so proud of myself. I thought that would be the hardest part but no... I can't even begin to express how many times I feel like the idiot in the class at medical school. Everyone is so smart, clever, incredible at everything and I feel like I'm the only one who's totally confused and behind in everything.

7. Coping with the death of a patient
When a patient dies medical students may experience a range of emotions, including sadness, guilt and anger. It is important to acknowledge such feelings and often helpful to share them with others.

Having spoken to other people in my age group, I was shocked to find that I was one of very few who had actually had a personal experience with death, both personal and independently. I've lost a lot of people close to me and as sad as it is, I know I've gotten through it. I grieved, I dealt and while I'll never forget, the pain does slowly dissipate and fade into a dullness.

I think one of the most eye-opening times for me was when my grandfather, my Pop-Pop, passed away. When I look back, I remember it being such a blur; I remember the little details but then I remember none of it. It's an odd feeling... But a couple of years after the fact, my mum told me how proud she was of me in that moment and the thing that's always stuck with me and makes me continue to strive for greatness in this crazy difficult path I've chosen to take is that she said "That's when I realised what a great doctor you'd make."

I'm not sure what made me first say "I want to be a doctor" but the fact that she told me that makes me unbelievably determined to achieve that. If I can put someone else at ease and stay strong for them while I, myself, am grieving, I know, deep down, despite my worries, I'll be able to do it for others.

Honestly, as scary as some of these sound, I can't wait to experience so many first's in my career. I can't wait to see how I manage, how I deal and how I learn from everything that comes my way. the first time I go on a ward round, the first time I have my on patient, the first time I have a night shift, the first time I have to admit defeat, the first time...everything is a first time once.