My life these days is pretty hip. This is sadly not in the cool, down with the kids kind of hip, but more in the see four hips replacements in a day and subsequently dream about hip replacements and then return to hospital for another day of hip replacements sorta way.
As you can probably tell I’m seeing lots of hips these days. This is mostly due to me being attached to a (wait for it) hip surgeon for my Orthopaedics block, who has kindly taken me under his wing and showed me the joys of a career working with the musculoskeletal system. From hip replacements to knee athroscopies, meniscal repairs to labrum tears, I’ve had a seriously fascinating time over the last few weeks, and of course gotten to know hips very, very well. It’s been brilliant because its been my first proper experience of being part of a surgical firm and getting properly stuck into following patients through the NHS system. From clerking patients in when they first present to clinic to following them through physiotherapy as they recover, its been an amazing insight into the treatment process and what it actually means be a medical professional.
It’s also really interesting to get to grips with the various quirks of each speciality. Orthopaedics for instance has this reputation for being very problem focussed – A patient comes in, you see the x-ray, you fix the problem with some metal or a boot and job done. The reality, as always, is much more nuanced. There’s a huge emphasis on the context a patient is presenting from in orthopaedics, especially given that the injury is often relatively simple to recognise and treat. Thus finding out seemingly banal details, like whether a patient has stairs in the house, who they live with, whether they struggle to put shoes and socks on in the morning, can influence a management plan almost as much as the exact diagnosis. This is especially pertinent when you’re dealing with elderly patients suffering from hip fractures, which has a huge mortality rate if not dealt with appropriately. Pretty interesting stuff!
Saying that, we do have these morning trauma meetings where the stereotypical “recognise the problem, make the diagnosis and state how you’d manage the patient” comes into play.. And it’s invariably us medical students that get asked to come up with a plan (usually in front of a roomful of orthopaedic surgeons!). Scary stuff but incredibly useful – and of course there’s nothing like the prospect of public humiliation to make you read up the night before!
But anyway, I’ve been having an excellent time.. And of course, you can’t complain when they let you mess about with plastercasting for a day.
Until next time!