Conversation Trappings

[fictional account based on real people]

“So, how are you?” These gatherings were always rife with small talk. I could hear that phrase being parroted around at least a dozen other times, and yet despite the consistency of the question, rarely did anyone have a decent answer.

“Fantastic!” He answered with an emphatic arm motion, wine swishing out of his glass; his lack of concern made me think that this probably wasn’t his first. “Did you hear about Mars?” he asked enthusiastically. Every now and then someone would surprise you with an answer completely left field.

“Err, I’m not sure?”

“There’s water on Mars!” He replied, with ever growing enthusiasm, his face slightly red, either from excitement, or to match his tipple of choice.
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Conversation Trappings

Small Talk and Responsibility

 

When asked about the skill’s you think a good doctor needs, what do you think of? Calm? Empathetic? Hard working? leadership? All fantastic qualities, but none the answer I’d give. Do you know what they really need? An endless bank of great small talk, making each and every consultation 100 times smoother. But unfortunately in this consultation, my bank was falling well into its overdraft.

Helen, the F1, had ushered me to the exam room, instructing me to take a history from and examine Mrs S. Apparently she would be back in less than 15 minutes to check my findings. Well apparently, Helen and myself have a very different understanding of the meaning of 15 minutes. It had only really been 25, but 10 minutes of “how long have you lived in Cornwall then? “, “ I’m in my 4th year now, only the 1 more to go” and “no you’re right, I’m not from around these parts” does a pretty good job at grinding time to a halt.

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Small Talk and Responsibility

Visiting Time

The bed numbers go clockwise around the ward, with the first patient resting at 9 o’clock on the left as you walk through the doors. I step in. Stripped of my innate ability to fade into any given background by the white wash of the ward. My eyes revolve around the linoleum face until they come to rest at 3 o’clock. My feet track straight down the minute hand towards it, trying to reach the patient before I lose my nerve and time moves on.

As I approach, a visitor folds away her paper and pats her perm into shape. My clipboard and stethoscope are too cumbersome to hide. I bare an unfortunate resemblance to a doctor.

The patient does not stir.
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Visiting Time

About

Hello and welcome to Memorable Medic Moments.

This blog has been set up to share some reflective memoirs written by a group of 4th year medical students. As medical students we are privileged to experience powerful moments with patients and colleagues. These experiences can be positive or negative, trivial or paramount and all contribute to our education and development as future doctors. Writing about them helps us to reflect on what went well and what could have been done better. We hope to gain insight into the feelings and emotions of  both our patients and ourselves, ultimately aiming to improve as physicians and individuals.

All posts adhere to patient confidentiality. Any names or identifiable details have been changed or left out.

Please enjoy and leave a comment should you so wish.

About

A Person of Presence

“I was hoping you’d say that,” said the F1, after I’d bravely volunteered myself to cannulate his patient. I say bravely, but in truth the other doctors had moved on in their ward round, paying as much attention to me as they would to their shadow. There I stood ready to impress. Yes the seniors had moved on, but I wanted to show this junior doctor that I had value.

So off I went to gather all the necessary things for cannulation. These were kept in the prep room, a clinical space off to one side of the ward. Fumbling like a stranger in a friend’s kitchen I collected the appropriate equipment: a sharps box, gloves, needle, flush, alcohol wipes and the cannula itself.  I stopped by the F1, speechless as he glanced over my tray of excessively packaged plastic utensils, before exchanging words of encouragement authorising me to approach the patient.
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A Person of Presence