The Ward round
The early years of a medical student encompasses university lectures with the odd weekly / fortnightly tutorials done at the hospital. These tutes are often bedside tutorials and usually focuses on the bread and butter of any doctor – the coveted history taking and the routine physical examination.
As students move up the chain to the final years of med school, teaching shifts away from the university campus to primarily attendance at the hospital. This is when the juicy stuff comes in, as you begin to prematurely realise what life is like in clinical medicine....
As a final year medical student, you will be placed on a team for some duration (depending on which university you are at). You will attend the “ward round” on the team’s patients. It is during this time that the most senior member of the team (whether it would be the consultant or the registrar), assesses the patient’s progress, determines their issues and ascertains a plan for the junior doctors to carry out. This may be starting the patients on a certain antibiotic or deciding whether a patient is well enough to be discharged or seeking consults from other teams for the patient’s to be reviewed by. As you continue to watch how senior doctors make decisions on their patients, you also begin to connect the theory learnt in all those early years at university lectures with real life cases. It is also during this time when the bosses would “pimp” – a term coined by American medical students. This is where they would direct questions at medical students. More often than not you will have absolutely zero idea on how to answer them. The intern or the resident will then have the opportunity to smash out the question only to further highlight how out of depth you are as a student.
To the fresh medical students, these moments may represent a highly stressful and intimidating time in your day as your whole medical team gathers around and watch you fail miserably. But as you progress as a student, what you will come to realise is that this may perhaps differentiate you from a student in any other field. As intimidating as it may be, it is probably the most effective form of learning in the world. You will never forget the answer to the questions that you were publicly humiliated by. On the flip side, for those who are reaching the tail of medical school, you will find that you will begin to ace more and more of these “pimping” moments. Raw out of your final exams, with knowledge comparable to a BPT (basic physician training registrar), you cannot help but feel proud at how far you have come. And now it is your turn to “pimp” the next group of students and perpetuate the culture of teaching in medicine.