I recently read a question on meducation posted around a year ago, the jist of which was “as a medical student, is it too early to start developing commitment to a specialty?” I.e. “even though I haven’t graduated yet, should I start building a portfolio of experience and evidence to show that specialty X is what I really want to do?” MMC revolutionised (for better or worse) the medical career structure forcing new graduates to decide on a career path much earlier. Many have appreciated the clear delineation of their career pathway. Others have found the 15 month period between leaving university and applying for specialty training too short to make an informed decision (just ask the 10% of FY2s that took a career break last year (i)). Whether right or wrong, there is now less time to rotate round ‘SHO’ jobs, decide on a career and build a CV capable of winning over an interview panel. You’ll probably find you’re in one of 2 camps at university: Those who are absolutely 110% certain there is nothing they want to do, ever, other than specialty X, or Those who really like specialty X, but also like specialties W, Y and Z and haven't made up their minds (A few people find themselves feeling they don’t want to be part of any medical career, but that’s for another post.) Students identifying with the first statement are usually concerned they will not get enough general experience, or that they will be stuck with their decision if they change their minds later on. Those who are leaning more towards statement 2 may not build as strong a body of evidence for any one specialty; however it’s possible to get involved in activities either relevant to a few career options, or several specialty-specific activities and subsequently edit the CV for a specific interview. The key message is that whether you think you have your career mapped out or not, medical school is the perfect time to start collecting evidence that you’re interested in a career in a particular specialty: time for extra-curricular activities only becomes scarcer when you have a full time job complete with working long days, nights and weekends. Your experiences at medical school can then be supplemented with taster weeks, teaching and judicious use of your study budget for training days and conferences; bear in mind that all specialties allow at least 3 years* following FY2 before starting specialty training which can be used for gaining further experience (but be prepared to justify and defend your actions). It’s also important to consider the manner in which individual specialties require such a commitment to be demonstrated: In general terms, the more niche and/or competitive the specialty, the more they will want you to demonstrate that you a) really know what the job entails and b) have made a concerted effort to further your knowledge of the subject. To get a job in neurosurgery for example, which is not only niche but had a completion ratio of 4.9 in 2013(ii) you’ll need to have gone to courses relevant to neurosurgery and have achievements related to the specialty such as a neurosurgical elective, attachment or taster experience(iii). Some specialties assess commitment in a variety of situations e.g. the radiology interview this year had stations on the general overview and future of radiology as a career, a CV based demonstration of commitment to specialty as well as a station requiring the interpretation of images. General Practice on the other hand which in its very nature is very broad, at no point allocates marks specifically for commitment to specialty (or anything else on a CV for that matter) as it is entirely dependent on an exam (SJTs and clinical questions) and skill-based stations at a selection centre. The person specification* details what is expected and desirable as demonstration of commitment in each specialty. So, how do you actually show you’re committed to a specialty? It may be pretty obvious but try to get a consistent and well-rounded CV. Consider: • Joining a student committee or group for your specialty. If there isn't one at your university, find some like-minded people and start one • Asking the firms you work for if you can help with an audit/research even if data collection doesn’t sound very interesting • Finding a research project (e.g. as part of a related intercalated or higher degree) • Prizes and examinations relevant to the specialty • Developing a relevant teaching programme • Selecting your selected study modules/components, elective and dissertation with your chosen specialty in mind • Going to teaching or study days aimed at students at the relevant Royal College Remember it’s not just what you’ve done but also what you’ve learnt from it; get into a habit of reflecting on what each activity has helped you achieve or understand. This is where most people who appear to have the perfect CV come unstuck: There will always be someone who has more presentations and publications etc. etc. but don’t be put off that it means they are a dead cert for the job. Whatever you do, make sure you have EVIDENCE that you’ve done it. Become a bit obsessive. Trust me, you forget a lot and nothing counts if you can’t prove it. Assessing commitment to specialty aims to highlight who really understands and wants a career in that specialty. From my own recent experience however, just identifying experiences explicitly related to a specific specialty ignores the transferable and clinically/professionally/personally important skills one has that would make them a successful trainee. I’d be very interested in your views on ‘commitment to specialty’: for example do you think the fact someone has 20 papers in a given specialty means they are necessarily the best for the job? Or are you planning to take a year out post-FY2 to build on your CV to gain more experience? Let us know! References *See person specifications for specialty-specific details at http://specialtytraining.hee.nhs.uk/specialty-recruitment/person-specifications-2013/ i. http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/download.asp?file=F2_career_destination_report_November_2013.pdf ii. http://specialtytraining.hee.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/475/2013/03/Specialty-Training-2013.pdf iii. http://specialtytraining.hee.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/475/2013/03/2014-PS-NEUROSURGERY-ST1-1.02.pdf
Dr Lydia Spurr
over 7 years ago
This field of medicine requires much more physiological and pathophysiological knowledge than most people give it credit for. Psychiatric illness DO have physical manifestations of symptoms; in fact those symptoms help form the main criteria for differential diagnoses. For example, key physical symptoms of depression, besides having a low mood for more than two weeks (yes, two weeks is all it takes to be classified as 'depressed'), include fatigue, change in appetite, unexplained aches/pains, changes in menstrual cycle if you're a female, altered bowel habits, abnormal sleep, etc. Aside from this, studies suggest that psychiatric illnesses put you at higher risk for physical conditions including heart disease, osteoarthritis, etc. (the list really does go on) Although some mental health conditions, like cognitive impairments, still do not have very effective treatment options; most psychiatric medications work very well, and are necessary for treating the patient. The stigma surrounding them by the public causes a huge problem for doctors. Many patients are reluctant to comply with medications because they are not as widely accepted as the ones for non-mental health conditions. A psychiatrist holds a huge responsibility for patient education. It can be tough to teach your patients about their medication, when many of them refuse to belief there is anything wrong with them (this is also because of stigma). Contrary to my previous beliefs, psychiatrists DO NOT sit around talking about feelings all day. The stereotypical image of someone lying down on a couch talking about their thoughts/feelings while the doctor holds up ink blots, is done more in 'cognitive behavioural therapy.' While this is a vital healthcare service, it's not really what a psychiatrist does. Taking a psychiatric history is just like taking a regular, structured medical history; except you have to ask further questions about their personal history (their relationships, professional life, significant life events, etc), forensic history, substance misuse history (if applicable), and childhood/developmental history. Taking a psychiatric history for a new patient usually takes at least an hour. The interesting thing about about treating a psychiatric patient is that the best guidelines you have for making them healthy is their personality before the symptoms started (this is called 'pre-morbid personality'). This can be difficult to establish, and can often be an ambiguous goal for a doctor to reach. Of course, there is structure/protocol for each illness, but each patient will be unique. This is a challenge because personalities constantly evolve, healthy or not, and the human mind is perpetual. On top of this, whether mental or physical, a serious illness usually significally impacts a person's personality. Most psychiatric conditions, while being very treatable, will affect the patient will struggle with for their whole life. This leaves the psychiatrist with a large portion of the responsibility for the patient's quality of life and well-being; this can be vey rewarding and challenging. The state of a person's mind is a perpetual thing, choosing the right medication is not enough. Before I had done this rotation, I was quite sure that this was a field I was not interested in. I still don't know if it is something I would pursue, but I'm definitely more open-minded to it now! PS: It has also taught me some valuable life lessons; most of the patients I met were just ordinary people who were pushed a little too far by the unfortunate combination/sequence of circumstances in their life. Even the ones who have committed crimes or were capable of doing awful things.. It could happen to anyone, and just because I have been lucky enough to not experience the things those people have, does not mean I am a better person for not behaving the same way as them.
over 7 years ago
A 92 year old woman presented to the emergency department after collapsing at home. She recalled standing from her chair, feeling lightheaded, and then collapsing. She had felt generally weak for more than a year, with weight loss of 56 lb (25.2 kg) but no change in bowel habit, dysphagia, or gastrointestinal bleeding. Her medical history included hypertension, hypothyroidism, and anaemia (which was currently being investigated by her general practitioner). Among other drugs, she was taking lisinopril, bendroflumethiazide, and levothyroxine. Her son had died at 60 years of age from large bowel obstruction and perforation secondary to colon cancer.
over 6 years ago
Continuing with our EM Mindset series, here is another piece by Dr. Adams to kick off another Monday. Review the frameworks and habits that appear to be common of an emergency physician. Enjoy!
over 6 years ago
Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in developed nations. It is characterized by abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, and bloating. Several non-pharmacological and pharmacological agents, which target the peripheral gastrointestinal system and central nervous system, are used to treat the syndrome. The individual and societal impact of investigating and managing the syndrome is substantial, and despite newer treatments, many patients have unmet needs. Intense research at many international sites has improved the understanding of pathophysiology of the syndrome, but developing treatments that are effective, safe, and that have tolerable side effects remains a challenge. This review briefly summarizes the currently available treatments for irritable bowel syndrome then focuses on newer non-pharmacological and pharmacological therapies and recent evidence for older treatments. Recent guidelines on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome are also discussed.
over 6 years ago
If we feel it necessary to characterise ourselves as being “pro” or “anti” certain things, I would unambiguously say that I am anti-smoking. Smoking is a vile habit. I don’t like being around people who are smoking. And as a medical statistician, I am very well aware of the immense harm that smoking does to the health of smokers and those unfortunate enough to be exposed to their smoke.
about 6 years ago