As a final year medical student I was due to spend Summer 2015 on an elective in Belize. When this fell through at the last minute I ended up doing my elective in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Thomas’ Hospital. Following this I was invited to be a mentor in their summer school alongside 5 other final year students.
The summer school took place over five days, with each mentor being assigned four students. On the first day of the summer school we mentors taught the students basic obstetric and gynaecological examinations and skills. The students were then given a timetable for the rest of the week where they would attend clinics and theatre to get an idea of the specialty. In addition to their time spent in the hospital, we asked the students to prepare a very brief presentation on something about the course that they had found particularly interesting. The students presented these to the mentors and course organisers on the final day of the course and we had a small ceremony where they received certificates for their participation.
The course proved to be a valuable experience for both students and mentors. As mentors we got to experience what it feels like to be responsible for a group of colleagues, trying to ensure that they got the best learning experience they could. This wasn’t always easy due to the busy nature of obstetrics and gynaecology, but for the most part we managed to make sure everyone got to experience all areas and had an enjoyable time.
It definitely made me personally appreciate how much work goes into organising our medical course and develop a new respect for the people who do so. For the students, the course gave them an excellent insight into a new specialty, with the chance to practice skills that most don’t get the chance to learn until 4th year and the opportunity to practice their presenting skills which are a big part of medicine.
Overall the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Summer School proved to be one of the things that turned my makeshift elective in the UK into a really enjoyable and worthwhile experience I would highly recommend it to both those interested in being a student or a mentor.
By Isabella Fernandes