I'm not sure why I like to quote lines from films on this blog. I mean, I really haven't seen enough of them to make myself out to be some sort of hotshot film geek. I'm hoping this is the last (probably inappropriate) quote I use for a while, so here goes... 'Give me a word, any word, and I show you that the root of that word is Greek.' Courtesy of Gus Portokalos, the funniest character in the My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Sometimes I feel like medics tend to do that, we have a habit of making absolutely any conversation about Medicine. It seems to give us a bit of a bad rep, but surely it's understandable? I mean, it's what we do. It's what we've 'always wanted to do' i.e. since leaving the womb*. It's what we're always going to do. Right?
Even so, it's surely human nature to relate everyday conversation to something you think that you know a lot about. Let's take a look at real-life example, cue the Blue Peter quip 'here's one I made earlier':
I know nothing about football. Well, I know a bit more than some and a lot less than your average football fan so I guess I know VERY little about football. I do, however, know a thing or two about Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. Why, you ask? Well, the Hillsborough Disaster in 1985 saw the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans during an FA cup semi-final. A pivotal case emerged from this disaster which affected medical decision-making at the end of life, that of Anthony Bland. Bland was left brain damaged and in a 'persistent vegetative state' (a disorder of consciousness) after the disaster. In 1993, he finally won his battle to have the treatment that was keeping him alive withdrawn. This was a landmark case in both medical ethics and law. Don't say you heard it hear first, look it up: it's relevant.
It would be dishonest to say, 'Give me a word, any word, and I'll show you that it's somehow linked to Medicine. But just ask me what I know about football, just once and I might just surprise you.
*After writing this entry, I realised that it might be unfair to presume that there isn't at least one person who knew that they wanted to be a doctor just seconds after taking their first gasp of air and crying their eyes out in the midwife's arms. My sincere apologies if this applies to you.
(To have a look at more of my entries, visit: http://contemplationsofamedic.blogspot.co.uk/)
Choosing a career path is one of the hardest (non-clinical) decisions many doctors will face in their professional lives. With almost 100 specialties and sub-specialties available, settling on any one career can seem pretty daunting, particularly as in the majority of cases the choice will set a path you’re likely to be on for the next 30+ years. But, with only a very small range of these specialties and almost none of the sub-specialties available to undertake as rotations during any one foundation programme, finding out what actually working in different specialties is like can be difficult. It’s likely you’ll have at least identified an area you’re kind of/maybe interested in before starting the foundation programme but, to use a total cliché, you wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive, right?
There is good evidence to show that any experience, even if only brief, can be very influential on career choice and this is why all deaneries offer new doctors to undertake a ‘taster week’ at some point during the Foundation Programme. This is usually from 2-5 days, taken as study leave, in a specialty of the doctor’s choosing which they haven’t and won’t work during their foundation programme. Most hospitals will allow doctors to do this at an external hospital or organisation if the desired specialty isn't available locally. Tasters are often organised by the trainee but deaneries are encouraged to provide a list or register of structured taster programmes to its trainees. A timetable split into half-day activities, including time for 1:1 discussion with both consultants and trainees, should be provided or agreed with a supervisor, which gives the doctor as broad an experience of the roles, responsibilities, highlights, challenges and lifestyle of the specialty as possible. This should then give the doctor plenty of food for thought and provide an opportunity for (you guessed it) reflection to confirm or exclude that specialty as a career choice and identify (if the former) what steps they need to take to get there. At the end of the experience the doctor should fill in a feedback form and formally reflect in their portfolio.
Taster weeks aren't limited to particular specialties and sub-specialties either; there are plenty of more over-arching opportunities such as experiencing leadership and management roles or getting involved in academia, research or medical education. As long as you can identify and describe what you’ll aim to learn or understand from the experience, almost any taster is possible.
So, how do you go about it? Each deanery should have a policy relating to taster weeks, or have an responsible administrator who can provide advice. Talking to your educational supervisor can also be really useful. Considering early on in FY1 which area or specialty you want to explore is important; time runs out scarily quickly and taking time out of rotations needs careful planning and co-ordination to make sure there is enough cover for your day job. You may already know or have identified an appropriate supervisor who will facilitate the experience but if not, your supervisor or administrator will almost certainly be able to point you in the right direction.
You’ll never get to experience every possible career path before starting out on one; the specialty or sub-specialty you eventually work in may not even exist yet. But getting an idea of what you’ll definitely consider, or definitely won’t, will give you a better chance of identifying something that will suit you personally and professionally, and, particularly in the more competitive and run-though specialties will give you another example of commitment to specialty. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or look at something really niche – it may give you a taste for something unexpected that you’ll love for life.
Can you imagine being able to search for locations in the human body in the same way you can on Google Maps? This thinking lead Programmer Rich Stoner to create this amazing video of a 21st Century Map of the Brain which was our most popular tweet last week.
A 21st Century Map of the Brain http://t.co/tkojzJBW55 via @brianglanz #openscience— Meducation (@Meducation) October 18, 2013
Rich writes in his blog - “Now we can quickly search Google Maps for a location, ask what is nearby, and even see what it looks like using StreetView. Now, imagine if something like that existed for the human brain: an interactive environment to search, visualize, and explore layers upon layers of neuroanatomy. This is the dream of cortical cartographers (also known as neuroanatomists). 10 years ago, one of the largest brain mapping initiatives was founded by Paul Allen with a single goal: to build a 21st Century Map of the Brain.” Click here to read more.
The mapping of the brain is a working progress and therefore not 100% accurate. Even so the video gives us an insight into the innovate ways we will be able to interact with science in the future.
You can follow Meducation on twitter to see more tweets like this at twitter.com/meducation.
Well I think they do. In 2012 I attended the #digidoc2012 conference in London. This was a conference aimed at bringing clinicians and technology enthusiasts together to learn how better to use technology to help in a clinical setting. Part of the day included tutorials and lectures, but my favourite part was the ‘hack’ session. In groups, we pitched ideas about potential apps which could be created to help different groups i.e. clinicians, patients, providers etc. From this session the initial concept of PhotoConsent was formed.
Medical photography in a hospital setting can be relatively straight forward. A clinician can call up the medical photography department, get them to sort out the forms and details, patient consented, picture taken...done. The main issue with this is the time taken to access the medical photography department.
Medical photography in a moderately acute setting or primary care is considerably less straight forward. Issues on how you document the consent, what methods used (verbal or written) and how this is stored need to be considered. There exists some guidance on the matter (see Good Medical Practice: Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients), however actual practice is variable. The added issue of social media and the ease of which images can now be shared can add to the confusion.
The solution - PhotoConsent:
I am involved in several on-line forums and governance groups. With seeing interactions about patient images in social media and various online clinical groups, I felt a more complete solution was needed which gave better protection and governance for both patients and clinicians. Following the #digidoc12 conference (https://thedigitaldoc.co.uk/), I met some innovative colleagues including Ed Wallit (@podmedicsed). We took this brainstormed idea further and now we have a finished product- PhotoConsent app.
PhotoConsent is a new application designed to help you as a clinician to safely and easily take photos of a patient and then obtain the relevant consent for that photo quickly and efficiently. It is currently available on iOS.
How does it work?
Upon opening the app you can take a photo from the home screen. Once you have confirmed you have the best possible image, you and the patient are shown the consent options. Using PhotoConsent you can choose to obtain consent to use the photo for assessment, second opinion or referral, educational use or publication. In real time with the patient you can then select each consent option to explore in more detail to allow informed consent. This consent can then be digitally signed and emailed to the patient instantly. The image and consent can then be used by the clinician in accordance with GMC guidance. This can be via the app, email or via the online portal: PhotoConsent.co.uk. What makes PhotoConsent unique is that the consent is digitally secure in the metadata of the image. So proof of consent is always with the image.
Why should I use PhotoConsent?
It is important if taking a medical image of a patient, that consent is obtained and recorded. Written consent is considered the best option. PhotoConsent allows you to take consent with the patient in real-time, forward the patient a copy of the consent so they can stay informed, and be safe in the knowledge that consent is secure within the image metadata. All this is possible through your own iOS device making it convenient and effective for all involved.
What is next for PhotoConsent?
The first release of PhotoConsent is out, but there can always be progression. In the future I hope to bring the app to the Android platform to make it more accessible to a wider audience. We are also working on expanding the app to include consent for non-medical use. We have a few other ideas but time will tell if these are possible.
About the owner:
Dr Hussain Gandhi (@drgandalf52) is a GP and GP trainer working in the Nottingham area. He is a RCGP First5 lead, Treasurer of RCGP Vale of Trent faculty, co-author of The New GPs Handbook, owner of PhotoConsent and egplearning.co.uk – an e-learning portal; and a member of Tiko’s GP group on Facebook (@TheVoiceofTGG).
All Images taken via PhotoConsent.