Archive for the ‘Electives’ Category

Articles

Elective Plans (interlude)

In Electives on March 27, 2011 by Lujayn Ali Tagged: , , , ,

Am I allowed to just say “I’m planning to do as little work as possible and spend the rest of the time travelling” ?  No? Thought not. Damn, gotta think of something then…

Advertisements

Articles

Elective Planning Part 1

In Electives on March 13, 2011 by Lujayn Ali Tagged: , , ,

By most students’ accounts, an elective placement is an experience that will never be forgotten and a memory to be treasured. There is therefore a huge amount of pressure on the next batch of students to make the most of an elective placement and to live up to the dreamlike expectations painted by previous students.

Hyped up and looking forward to the placement, I threw myself into the first part of the planning stage; gathering ideas, discussions with friends and research on the Elective Abstract Record System (EARS) where I was met with an overwhelming amount of information. Probably too much information. At this point I will admit to feeling a little bit disheartened and lost in the mass of information.

Perhaps a little naively, I had carried the expectation that I would be travelling with my clinical partner for my elective and that we would have an amazing time where we would do our clinical work together and then use the rest of the time travelling and seeing the sights, taking part in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. To the uninitiated, our relationship sounds a little strange, maybe crossing the border from purely platonic to something a bit more. In fact, our third year neurology firm head looked us up and down and asked, “Are you partners then?” At which point we caught each other’s eyes and said, “Clinical partners, yes.” Emphasis on clinical. But no, we’re just very good friends. We’ve known each other since childhood and I’m sure she can dig up some embarrassing photos of me just as I have some of her buried somewhere.

It turned out however that we were not on the same page. I wanted to go somewhere hot whereas she wanted to go somewhere cold. I was absolutely not going to budge on that one issue and neither was she, so we’ve had to split up and thus I was back at square one, canvassing different countries and finding someone(s) to go with.

I went ahead and sent out an email to my friends who were on other rotations to meet up and discuss plans and ideas. Unfortunately that plan failed. Miserably. There was too many of us to have a single time in common and the response rate was fairly low. I like to think it was because they too were feeling just as lost as I was. Although it could have just been a general lack of proactiveness and a can’t-be-bothered type syndrome which at times I’ve been guilty of myself.

Now well into the first rotation of our fourth year of medicine, sporadic meetings with friends, a few moments caught between lectures or tutorials, running from one ward to another between one pregnant woman in labour and an RTA in A&E became the norm. A quick “So where are you going for electives?” and a few moments of snatched conversation between hurried bites was the most conversation any of us had with each other. I’ve probably asked the same person that same question about five times. Eventually we were able to find a time in common and to discuss ideas. Many of them, like me, had the idea of going to two different countries. Between us, based on recommendations from previous students, EARS and google images we came to an agreement that Malaysia would be acceptable for us all and there were no major objections.  We sent out emails separately and applied to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for the second half of the elective period. We would be doing different things for the first half.

A conversation with my family and it was decided that I would be heading to the UAE for the first half where my aunt lives. Being fluent in Arabic and with Ramadan falling in August it would be nice to be with family where support and company would be present plus free board and meals – very important considering I had decided that I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to do something exciting and not worry too much about budgeting and being frugal (that’s what the pre elective making-my-own-lunch is all about).  I got into contact with her and procured the names of two hospitals close to where she lives. I emailed them explaining the situation and now the waiting game has begun.

It is now February and I have had confirmation from Hospital Kuala Lumpur to do general medicine for four weeks. I have heard absolutely nothing from the UAE and I am starting to get worried. I have sent out repeat emails and will be ringing them soon. It doesn’t seem to be happening so I have started to think about back up plans which don’t seem to be working either. Once I emailed the London Air Ambulance, I realised that I really wanted to do it. Embarrassingly, I even dreamed about it. However they have replied to tell me that their elective places have been filled up and so I am back to finding somewhere or something to do.

I’ve just sent out a second batch of emails to the UAE and one to the London Ambulance Service. I don’t really want to stay in London but I may have to reconcile with the idea. It does have its pros, I won’t have to worry about little Ali missing me. He’s my younger brother (only 4y/o). When I went to Ashford earlier this year for four days at a time, he was asking after me everyday, I don’t know if I want to put him through that again but I also know that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I guess if I had to choose I’d probably choose to go away. I wonder, does that make me a selfish person?