Importance of helping the next generation of Drs and Nurses

I love speaking to medical students and student nurses. Even before I was a nurse I knew the importance of helping educate all the students wanting to go into the healthcare profession.

Today I was interviewed by a couple of first year medical students. It was great to speak to them but I felt so bad for them as this is their first year and cant even see the person they are interviewing face to face because of COVID. It must be so hard for them. Thankfully we were able to do the interview over zoom so at least we could see each other. I also think this made it easier for the students too as you can interact more when you see someone rather than just listening.

For years I have always welcomed medical students and student nurses to see me when I have been in hospital. It is vital to their learning to see real patients. Even as students they are still bound by confidentiality so are not going to be discussing your case with their friends so I feel quite safe.

I think it is easier for student nurses to spend time with patients as when they are on placement they are on a ward and included in the ward team which means they are involved in very aspect of a patients care. It is very rare for a patient to refuse to be looked after by a student nurse. There is the odd case when it may be a very complex patient perhaps with an aggressive nature etc that the ward nurse doesn’t feel a student nurse would be suitable but not otherwise. The only other time a patient might say no to a student nurse is when it comes to a procedure such as having a urinary catheter fitted which can be an unpleasant experience and some people would prefer someone experienced to put it in.

Whereas medical students are not immersed in ward life the same way. I think now they do a few weeks working as a clinical support worker but otherwise they tend to shadow Dr’s on ward rounds and will get sent in to speak to patients. Sometimes patients just don’t want to speak because you are in hospital after all and not feeling too great so the idea of being questioned and examined is not something you want to do.

Even when I am not feeling my best I will make an effort to speak to medical students as it is important they learn how to speak to patients and deal with them even when they are not well. After all they are going to be dealing with the sick for a profession so need to learn how to get all the information they need in the most efficient way possible and causing the least stress to their patient. Some medical students I have found are not good at speaking to patients and I often wonder after I have seen them how they got on with the rest of their training.

Because I know the importance of patients being seen by medical students and how key it is to their learning I will also allow them to examine me and do various tests they need to. There is only one thing I will not allow them to do but I also do not allow junior Drs to do it either and that is attempt to get an arterial blood gas (ABG). For me ABG’s are so difficult due to all the scar tissue that has built up from years of getting them. I am notoriously difficult and often Drs cant get one at all so it is the one thing I am very picky about who does it. Anything else though medical students or student nurses can do whatever they want as I believe we all need to learn somewhere with whatever profession we go in to.

Please if you are ever a patient and are asked if medical students can come and see you or if you can have a call with them please agree as it is vital for their learning. I also try to be as understanding as possible because they do get nervous and if they don’t ask the right questions give them a steer or help them out but don’t get short to stroppy with them. I have seen people do this and get frustrated because of the speed they are going at etc. With practice they will speed up and get into their groove so by the time they qualify they are a well oiled machine.

It was fantastic to speak to the medical students today and help them out as they embark on their studies to become Drs one day.

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