During the long summer holiday following second year, I had a lot of free time to work with and I wanted to make the most of it, so I applied to the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Summer School. Part of this decision was that I wanted to start exploring what specialties I might consider pursuing later in my career but also because I was anxious about starting clinical medicine and wanted to face my fears head on. I’m glad I did because the programme was a gentle introduction to clinics. I really appreciated the chance to figure out how learn in the clinical environment without the pressure of assessment, sign offs and firm heads to answer to.
The best part of the programme by far was the student mentor I was assigned. Our student mentor was immensely helpful and went above and beyond to make sure we had a productive week. He was with us in clinics and surgeries, offered impromptu teaching sessions and when all these were saturated he even offered himself as a dummy to let us practise venepuncture. The words “role model” sound cliché but watching him confidently manoeuvre his way through the wards gave me the confidence to do the same and assert myself in the clinical environment. I think it’s really important to have role models in clinics and we often think of them as our consultants but the Summer School showed me I have just as much to learn from my near peers.
The course itself was intensive as it was just a week but pitched at just the right level for pre-clinical students. It covered a wide range of clinics; both nurse and consultant-led so we observed the roles played by every member of the team. It was also the first time I ever got to see surgery, which was really exciting. Most importantly, despite St Thomas being a big hospital, all the staff we met were friendly, approachable and eager to involve you wherever you went.
If I had to name just one thing I took away from this experience it is the gratitude I have to be a part of the medical profession. The summer school showed me that the trust patients place in their doctors and midwives is immense and I felt privileged to be present at moments as life changing as childbirth. The team at St Thomas’ were passionate and committed to every one of their patients, no matter how big or small the case. To that end, the Summer School has left me with lessons I will carry with me forever in both my professional and personal life.