Monday 15 February 2010

I got frostbite in the Pilbara

Let it never be said that I don’t deeply care about medical education in my adopted land. I was supposedly supervising a junior doctor who was in turn supposedly supervising a medical student who was about to use cryotherapy to burn a few nasty skin lesions off some bloke's arms.

As the junior doctor was giving the medical student simple step by step instructions on how to use the cryotherapy, I could see the prospective patient's eyes growing larger and more anxious as he realized that this student had never even seen cryotherapy before.

“It sucks being the guinea pig patient, having some student experimenting on you.” I said to him to try and lighten the atmosphere and put him at ease.

I then added, “It's not too bad if the student has already practiced on some other sucker and you’re number 2 in the queue.”

He smiled and agreed. I then decided to offer my own little skin lesion for the medical student to “practice” on before doing a medical procedure on a real live patient.

I did my best to maintain a stern, content expression, denying the searing pain in my hand as the student poured the cryotherapy liquid onto my hand, instantly freezing the tissue and crystallizing the cytosol in my hand.

I couldn’t scream out as this whole charade was to build the patient's confidence in the future doctors of this great country and simultaneously allow the student the opportunity to learn a medical procedure in a calm, non-threatening environment. I’m pleased to say I remained as non-threatening and calm as I could.

Fortunately it was the patient who then stepped in and said, “I think you’ve put too much on, you’re supposed to use a nozzle.”

This gave me the opportunity to run to the next room to cry alone while I pretended to look for a “nozzle”.

My hand is still very tender and seriously discoloured from the literal frostbite.

It seems the best educator for eager medical students is not direct supervision by helpful experienced doctors but anxious patients vocal enough to speak up when they see incorrect procedure being performed!


Cathy Davis said...

Nice Blog.

Albinoblackbear said...

And I thought I was brave for letting the EMT's practice IV starts on me!!

But that takes the cake.


Lucky patient and med student.