Sunday, March 22, 2015

Life as a medical student #5 What I learnt from Ward 23

Two weeks in Ward 23, Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

I wish I could tell you stories about an impressive tracheostomy, or how I performed chest compression on a patient and brought her back to life. Nahhh. But I can't. All I can tell you is the little things that happened - what Ward 23 has taught me.

In Ward 23 we have our General Medicine rotation. Patients are from diverse cultural backgrounds and have different life circumstances. Some have been relatively healthy and it was their first hospital admission. Others were chronic disease patients who probably have twenty years of long standing hypertension and diabetes. This is my first opportunity to meet real patients in a hospital setting - it is a much less structured learning environment than I have experienced up until now. A lot of self-directed in my learning is needed, which is a challenge for me as I am used to be spoon-fed -  we all are. On the first few days, I entered the ward and not knowing what to do or who to speak to. All I did was standing there watching the specialists and doctors discussing cases which I don't understand. The busy environment was intimidating, I almost started doubting my decision of becoming a doctor again.

But as I started to talk to some of the patients, things changed. I remember one woman in particular. I was walking from one bed to another, reading their charts. Then she started to make sounds. I knew she was trying to gain my attention. So I closed my files and walked towards her.

''Kenapa mak cik? Mak cik okey?''

She started to complain to me about her calf pain and how it affected her sleep. She frowned talking about the pain like a little kid. She told me how she hated staying in the hospital and her children never came to visit her. I looked at her lunch plate and realised she only ate the fruits. I asked why didn't she eat the porridge, the vegetables and the chicken. She said she had no appetite. And that she only likes fruits, especially the watermelon selling at the cafeteria downstairs. But she is wheel-chair bound and it is difficult for her to go down to the cafeteria. So I offered to buy her the watermelon. 

She was all happy when she saw me coming back with the watermelon. She had one bite and told me the watermelon was sweet. The juice of the watermelon was dripping everywhere on her neck and shirt. I helped her to wipe them away.

I made a promise to myself to always remember the sparks that she had in her eyes and the smile on her face when someone in the ward finally willing to listen to her and satisfy her wish.

Ward 23 taught me something -  that patients are always our best teachers. I am grateful for patients who are happy to let me talk to and examine them. Thank you for seeing me as a member of the medical profession - although I am just a medical student. It reminds me to behave in a professional manner at all times. I know that my rotations will have even more to offer me in terms of interactive, hands-on learning. Finding real life connections between the diseases I learned and the presentations I saw in my patients is interesting. But it is going beyond the disease presentations of my patients and getting a glimpse into their lives that really are the heart of medicine. Thank you, Ward 23.

"Medicine is learned at the bedside and not in the classroom”
Sir William Osler (1849 - 1919)

1 comment :

  1. I am so proud to be a friend of this awesome doctor! Jiayou Eunice you can do it <3


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