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Kate Morrison has been busy during her PREP experience at the Lanigan health clinic for the month of June. She is chronicling her experience as she transitions from the classroom to clerkship.

PREP Part II: My textbook is now my real patient

The past two weeks have proved to be very interesting here in Lanigan. I have been working with Dr. Akinjobi, a Nigerian-trained doctor who has worked in South Africa, England, and Australia.

In Lanigan, Dr. Akinjobi and Dr. Sharma (the other doctor working in town) see patients in the community’s health clinic while splitting call for patients arriving at the hospital between themselves. Additionally, Dr. Akinjobi and I also have rounded on the more than 30 clients who live in the long-term care facility attached to the hospital.

It is a difficult task to summarize my experience over the past two weeks, but the following sections attempt to capture some of what I’ve learned and experienced while participating in the PREP program.

As the title of this article eluded to, I have had the chance to see real patients with presentations that I had only previously seen in my textbook or on exam questions.

Looking at the patient’s presentation and then looking at Dr. Akinjobi and, at the same time, both of us stating our diagnosis as if a gut reaction — these moments have proven to me that yes, I have learned a lot in the first two years of medical school. Granted, there have been far more moments where I have realized just how much more I have yet to learn – but that’s the best part of medicine anyway, this endless learning and discovering.

I’ve patted myself on the back for feeling like a mini doctor-to-be in a few instances. For example, when I was looking at a patient’s ear, I immediately recalled my dermatology notes on squamous cell carcinoma. Upon seeing a patient present with spoon shaped nails, I was transported back to exams where I had to diagnose iron deficiency anemia – little things these are, but these are the moments for me, at this stage in my training, that feel like huge achievements.

Two years ago I didn’t know any of this and now I am explaining it to real patients – this is when I remember how cool medical school is!

The PREP program has also exposed me to other aspects of medicine that I haven’t been exposed to much through school yet. For example, I have had the chance to do intramuscular injections, venipuncture, liquid nitrogen treatments and wound care.

The program has also allowed me to spend a couple hours shadowing the hospital nurses and the lab technicians — who run the diagnostic imaging, ECG, and laboratory services. The experience of spending one-on-one time learning from professionals in other healthcare areas has been tremendously enlightening for me.

The morning in the lab was amazing! I was taught tricks to calm the patient down to get a clear ECG reading, helped to make slides for examining cell counts under the microscope, and saw all the machines that spit out lab values for things I will order in the future as a physician, such as, INR, CBCs, and electrolytes.

However, the most interesting part of the PREP program for me so far has been learning about the differences in rural versus urban resources. Physicians and healthcare providers in the rural setting navigate these differences as they strive to provide their patients with the highest quality of care.

For example, Lanigan does not have ultrasound services so patients must go to Humboldt or Saskatoon to have an ultrasound done. This was mind blowing to me at first because we have so much ultrasound training in our undergraduate curriculum that my brain had just assumed it was readily available in nearly every healthcare setting – I was wrong!

The patients have been delightful here in Lanigan and I am so grateful for their openness to welcome me into their doctor’s office and hospital as a learner.

There have been many vulnerable and heartbreaking moments in the clinic that patients have shared with me in their presence. To them I am a stranger, but they share so openly – this is what is so wild and beautiful about medicine. This privilege of being a medical learner here in Lanigan is not lost on me.

Until next time,
Kate Morrison

 

Read part one of Kate's PREP experience.

Read the final part of Kate's PREP experience.

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