The prospect of applying your evolving skills in a clinical setting can feel both exciting and intimidating. However, clinical placements at Medical School are an integral part of learning to be a doctor. The General Medical Council (GMC) Outcomes for Graduates 2018 require that, before graduation, medical students “need to be able to see and take part in the treatment of real patients under supervision.”
Medical Schools will facilitate learning in many ways, including simulation such as the innovative interprofessional simulation at Three Counties Medical School (TCMS), but clinical placements are crucial to applying those skills in practice as part of your development.
Expect it to be busy, but do not be afraid to ask questions and get stuck in. Your experience will be personal to you and will vary according to the environment you are in.
Examples might include General Practice consultations, hospital ward rounds, observation in surgical theatres, or team meetings with doctors, specialist nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Consultant ward rounds – You can learn a lot from the way consultants and other specialists interact with patients and their team. Are they a great role model? What are the things they do that you like and the things that you like less? What about their clinical reasoning or interpersonal skills?
Spending time with doctors in training – You can learn about the day-to-day tasks of working in a hospital. Remember that, whilst the doctor in training role reflects how you will spend some of your time, it is not the same as the “job at the end of training.”
Operating theatres – You can observe surgical and anaesthetic procedures as well as integrated working between the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in theatre. What is effective and what works less well?
GP surgeries and home visits – You will learn how GPs manage their time, their patient lists, and their interaction with patients. Think about how GPs work with patients to agree consultation outcomes. Who is referred to other services and why?
Multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings – Meetings involve a wide variety of professionals, including nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and many others. How does the team interact to best meet the needs of patients?
At TCMS, we will be using Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships (LICs). As the name suggests, these placements are often longer than traditional ward-based placements and involve becoming embedded in a healthcare community. You will have authentic involvement in patient care over time and will learn about a wide range of patient journeys and experiences through community and hospital care. LICs foster professional identity formation and learning through participation in a community of practice built around the needs of patients.
Overall, be engaged, show interest, take time to reflect on your experience and, finally, ENJOY!
Written by Dr Lauren White, Consultant in Stroke and General Medicine at Worcester Hospital and Simulation and Interprofessional Learning Lead at Three Counties Medical School, and Dr Russell Peek, Consultant in Paediatrics at Gloucester Hospital and Phase Two Lead at Three Counties Medical School.
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