Two perspectives: experiences of medical students on electives
The practice of medicine in a remote area
was struck by how small the hospital was – 96 beds, four wards, staffed by
two surgeons – yet what a large responsibility it has.
It seemed to be practising the medicine of an acute hospital with
varied and complex problems yet with the atmosphere of a cosy cottage
"I was mainly based with Skerryvore practice in Kirkwall, with three full-time GPs and one part-time. With 27 GPs, Orkney has more doctors per head than in any other part of the UK. Healthcare provision is firmly rooted in primary care, so the relationship between patient and GP is all the more important.
there are no long waiting lists or pressures on beds, a shortage of experts
can mean a reluctant trip to Aberdeen, and sometimes specialist consultants
need to fly in to deal with particular problems.
"Being in Orkney was a refreshing experience. The concerns of doctors are so different because of the isolation and geography. I feel I have been able to experience an old-fashioned style of medicine, where doctors have more time for their patients and there are beds in the hospital when needed, but no immediate access to all the latest technology."
worked in the three wards of the paediatric and obstetric departments in the
Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, a 700 bed hospital, partly government
funded and partly funded by the church.
my first baby, I was really nervous, having a panic. What if it all went
saw the baby’s head rotate spontaneously, and I felt relief. But then so
quickly, aahhh, the warm baby was in my hands and all the amniotic fluid
splashed down my front. Such a mess but the baby’s cry made it worthwhile.
also saw a sad case of abuse on a child with multiple scars and a large open
wound on his leg. His
poor mother looked about my age, and there was talk of an 'irritable' husband.
two other elective students I experienced Chagga tribe life in Mawella, where
we were invited to attend a funeral bizarrely interrupted by news of a murder
and a request for our help.
Ankle-deep in mud we ran through the banana trees to see a boy, no
older than 18, lying face down, eyes glazed, his back covered with many deep
to check whether he was really dead and aware of the risk of AIDS I cursed the
fact that my gloves and CPR equipment were back at the priest’s house when I
had a life/death decision to make.
Another boy, the murderer, had tried to take his own life, but was
still conscious. The
priest would not let us use his vehicle, so we managed to get the boy to the
nearest four-wheel drive somehow and to hospital.
"After my six weeks was up I spent six days climbing Kilimanjaro before relaxing, watching sunsets, drinking passion fruit Fanta and eating barbecued barracuda in Zanzibar, paradise on earth!"
Last updated: 2 October 2003 10:55
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