Having just started my Junior Medicine rotation, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the interesting things I encountered during my first week. I witnessed patients presenting with a myriad of different complaints – ranging from acute back pain to severe shortness of breath. It was intriguing to see how an episode of collapse could have several potential causes related to the neurological or cardiovascular systems.
I got the opportunity to present a patient which made me appreciate the wealth of information that can be garnered by simply talking to the patient. With elderly patients, I realised how necessary it is to refine a good psychosocial history (for instance, the kind of housing arrangements the patient has or whether the patient can perform activities of daily living independently), as this ultimately affects compliance with care after discharge and potential recovery. As patients are often severely ill in hospital, it is essential to take the time to talk to them and see if they have any glaring concerns with their care.
Ward rounds in the morning are also a great learning resource personally as they enable me to learn about drug prescribing, fluid management and general patient care. Having encountered patients with a variety of interesting presentations such as Graves’ disease (a form of hyperthyroidism), spinal cord compression and metastatic malignancy, I have learnt more about these conditions by talking to the patients themselves as opposed to reading about the conditions from a textbook. Whilst it is challenging to change my learning style from Phase 1, I am slowly but surely learning how to best approach studying for the end of year exams. Talking with patients is truly a gratifying experience and I hope to make the best use of the opportunity I have been given!