Sunday, March 20, 2016

Something someone once said...

For those of you who had been following me previously, I hope you'll be pleased to learn that I am now a fully-fledged doctor (and have been for some time now)! It's been quite a journey getting to that point, and since then too has been interesting to say the least. It's been a journey of mixed emotions - some days have been good, some have been worse than bad, and others have been bittersweet in that I have been pleased with something I have accomplished but at the expense of another's ill health. There is one moment that happened to me recently that had me remembering something that had been said to me during a meeting at med school and it's been playing on my mind a bit.

I had many meetings with the disability liaison officer while I was a student, though they were far and few between as I would try my best to avoid needing them. I think this particular one was quite early on at my time there, when I was struggling to find my feet and the school was having second thoughts about my suitability to a career as a doctor. When the topic of autism came up, one of their damage control strategies was to try and aim me towards certain medical specialties that stereotypically involve very little or zero patient contact, such as pathology and radiology. In fact, I can recall many times where a member of faculty has tried to hint that one of these specialties would be perfect for me. But, during this particular meeting, I rebuffed the suggestions with my own career plans in emergency medicine. I have many reasons for why I felt I would be well-suited to such a career, but my apparent lack of emotions was not one of them.  This member of faculty, however - the disability officer - seemed to have an epiphany once I'd said that. Their response was along the lines of, "Perhaps you'd be good at that. When you have to deal with a sick child, you would be able to stay calm as you would lack the same emotional responses others would have in that situation."

So I received a tiny morsel of support and approval at my career choices, but not because of my own adeptness to it, but because I apparently wouldn't care.

How wrong they were.

A few weeks ago, I had to deliver some bad news to a pregnant woman who had lost her baby and I can tell you, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Difficult not only because I was unseasoned, but because I'd formed an emotional attachment to this patient - I liked them. She was kind and sweet and well-meaning, and all she wanted was to bring a new life into the world so that she could share those things with that child, and much more. But she had been bleeding for a few days and came to hospital because she was worried she'd lost the baby. Just as quickly as she'd found out she was pregnant, I had to tell her that she was no more, and on finding out myself that she had miscarried all I wanted to do was walk outside somewhere and cry. Not an unreasonable response to rubbish situation, I don't think.

Despite this being a very difficult thing for me to do, I managed to do it. I stayed as calm as I could and maintained my professionalism throughout, and I was clear yet sympathetic in my approach. And this situation hasn't changed my opinion of what I want to get out of and put into a medical career. In fact, that day hasn't even factored into any sort of rationale for my not wanting to pursue a career in emergency medicine, and, if anything, it has made me that slight bit more determined (not that I need to be at this point). Definitely one of those bittersweet days...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The final stretch is in sight!

I commented in my last blog post that it had been nearly a year since my previous post, and that I hoped I would be more frequent with my updates as I encountered new challenges during my pediatrics and psychiatry rotations. However, it has been nearly a year since that post and I have not been keeping up-to-date with comments on the problems I experienced in pediatrics and psychaitry. The main reason for that is that this year has been rather uneventful. Finally, a year without too many problems!

I did encounter one - my university wanted to declare to an external body that I have Asperger syndrome, and I was very vehemently against this. I was very vocal about this, and eventually convinced them not to breach my confidentiality on this instance, but I have learned that it has already been breached a few times internally within the faculty. However, I am not at all surprised by this and I would rather keep my head down and focus on the end goal. Especially when it is so close - I have passed all of my exams for this year, which means one more year left!

I am going abroad for my medical elective soon, and I might pen a blog post on any problems I encounter there - new country, new culture - I don't really know what to expect.  I probably won't be posting as often as I once did when I return, unless I find myself in a situation where I feel a lot can be learned, but I will still be happy to answer any questions readers might have about having Asperger's and being a medical student.  There have been a few things I have learned during this past year too that I will write about soon, and I'm happy to take requests, but for now I must get ready for my trip.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Almost time for a new year

I seem to have gone almost an entire year without writing a single blog post. That does not mean to say that the previous year has gone without its problems, however. Most of my issues this past year involved dealing with people who underestimated my abilities, mostly from an academic standpoint.  This has annoyed me greatly because I consistently come in the top 15 of my class on written exams, but I don't brag about this to anyone who will listen so it is not common knowledge.  I out-performed many of my peers again in this year's exams, and, though I have not attained the same level of success as in previous years, I am satisfied with my performance.

I have two years left out of five.  In September, I will be starting my fourth year, and this year's challenges include a rotation in pediatrics and psychiatry.  I have spent the last three years getting used to and perfecting my communication skills with adults, and I have had some experiences talking to children but I still feel as though I have a lot of work to do.  Psychiatry also comes with a new set of difficulties; they say that empathy is crucial to a good doctor-patient relationship, and I don't doubt that this will be even more true when talking to patients whose health problems are related to the mind.  I have not yet encountered any psychiatry so it will be completely new to me, unlike pediatrics which has been touched upon in previous years.

I hope to be more active with my blogging in the coming year, because I will then be able to commit to the Internet a more accurate and detailed account of the problems I encounter and the ways I have tried to overcome them.  But for now, I plan to enjoy my summer!

Monday, September 3, 2012

So it begins... again

In a few days, I will be starting my third year at medical school.  Surprisingly, my exam results were again pretty good - near the top of the year, in fact. But that isn't going to make this upcoming year any easier. I am not feeling it at the moment, but soon I will be anxious about who I will be in the same group as and having to go through introductions about ten times all over again. I don't socialise with most of my year group so I don't really know many people that well, or at all, but I know that I have been talked about (if only briefly) and so the problems I have had in the past aren't secrets. I was concerned at the beginning of my second year that the problems I had in my first would cause problems in my second, but that wasn't the case at all so I have little reason to believe that they would suddenly cause problems now. Also, my second year went a lot more smoothly than the medical school had anticipated so I'm hoping that, this year, I will be treated like any other student and not 'monitored' throughout the year.

But anyway, good luck to me! My first day is next week and I hope it goes smoothly.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The moment we all dread

I haven't been blogging for a while because not much has really happened. On my last clinical rotation, I saw so very few patients that it was almost not worth doing. Exams are coming up soon so I am putting all my time and effort into that. Or trying to, anyway - as usual, I am finding it way easier go watch back episodes of Grey's Anatomy than actually revising. The mess that was meant to be my support package has now been resolved, but who knows what effect the disruption will have on my exam performance.

I will hopefully have more to say in the new academic year - that is, if I make it to next year!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

See no evil...

I'm half-way through one of the hardest modules I've done so far, and it involves seeing patients who have difficulties on top of those relevant to the module I'm currently doing. One of the patients I saw last week was visually impaired - very visually impaired - and this really tested my abilities to communicate effectively.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The trouble with bad communication... Part 2

Continued from Part 1

So a few weeks ago, I was ranting about how my medical school, who loves to impose communication skills sessions on us students only too often but hasn't seemed to master this art themselves, was telling me a bunch of stressful stuff via a third party they said I had to see for additional support. Some of this stuff included the possibility that my ability to graduate was in question.  On further questioning, I found out that this is because one of my tutors apparently didn't feel comfortable with the fact that I would one day be a doctor.