Posts Tagged ‘skills’

Clinical unskills

Posted: October 25, 2012 in School sagas
Tags: , ,

A big part of being a physician, it seems, is being able to perform simple tasks with ease and speed. People expect their doctor to be able to do injections, stitch up wounds, and set a broken bone. It sounds reasonable, right? Well, apparently my doctor is secretly a wizard, because there is no way anyone that’s human could do so many things with only two hands.

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to go to a rural hospital with some of my friends to practice some of the fundamental, simple skills. Whoo boy! Luckily, it seems this wasn’t the coordinators first rodeo, so we weren’t set loose on the unsuspecting patients in the hospital. Instead we practiced starting IVs, doing injections, and stitching up cuts in fake arms, oranges and random pork pieces. It was a tough crowd, I tell you.

One of my good friends, an ex-medical lab specialist, wasn’t satisfied with the fake arm. You see, she was used to drawing blood for the various tests she used to run, and was quite proficient. Apparently once you graduate from silicone arms, it’s hard to go back. Another student volunteered her veins to science, and my friend did her profession proud by starting a lovely IV. She made it look so easy that I had to try, and for some reason she suggested I practice on her. Let’s just say that while I didn’t hurt her or anything, there was quite a bit of blood to clean up. That wouldn’t be a good impression to leave a patient with!

I learned my lesson after that, and stuck to the oranges and pork (the oranges didn’t bleed, and rarely complained). Good thing, too, because while I attempted to do my first stitches I bent my suturing needle. I’ve never had stitches myself, but I think bending the needle is not standard practice. You know, now that I think of it, it might even be frowned upon! Luckily the pork couldn’t run away, and I eventually learned how to tie my knots. I’m still not sure how to hold the needle holder, loose end of the thread and skin edges all at once, but surely that’s not too important.

All in all, I gained a whole new appreciation for the physicians, nurses, and other health professionals that have started IVs and given me injections without traumatizing me. At this point, I think I’ll leave that to the true professionals. For my future patients out there, be afraid. Very afraid.

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