I’m not sure how many students know this, but once you’re qualified and working within a trust, a part of your job description denotes the expectation that you teach those who come after you, regardless of your job title or profession. Those mentors and staff that answer your questions whilst you’re on placement don’t get paid more for doing so and, for the most part, they don’t have special teaching roles. They do it to help and inspire you, and others, into being the best healthcare professionals that you can be, and one day, you’ll do that too.
I had my first taste of this, last week, when myself, fellow TSP writer OliGS and another student, along with two qualified physiologists, gave tech demonstrations, took Q&A’s and generally outlined the profession to a large group of medically-inclined 6th Form students. Oli had the joy of lying still and having successive Echo exams performed on him, but myself and the third student gave some ECG and BP demonstrations to small, rotating groups of young adults. They engaged a lot more than I initially thought they would, given that it was a hot day and the session was scheduled directly after lunch, but with a bit of cajoling, they performed simple 3-lead exams on one another, and took each other’s blood pressure. We answered all of the usual questions…
“Will this hurt?”
“Are you allowed to tell me if this shows I’m going to die”
“Will this electrocute me?”
…which aren’t entirely dissimilar to those put to us by patients, so it actually meant giving the same spiel, in response.
It was nerve-wracking, speaking candidly about your studies to strangers, especially when you don’t know at what level they are, with regards to cardiovascular anatomy, and when boring them is the last thing you want to do, so ensuring we spoke with enthusiasm was paramount. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only a couple of the students actually knew that HCS existed, so that added more of an incline to the mountain it felt we had to climb, but I’d happily do it again, as even one converted student feels like a victory, considering it was the first time I’d done anything like this. They seemed genuinely intrigued by diagnostics, and, after the aforementioned questions, asked some really challenging things about our role in wider healthcare, as well as about the equipment and techniques themselves. It’s odd to know that young students aren’t informed of all of the opportunities available them when they enter higher education, and it highlights the need for more publicity surrounding the scientific careers present in the process of patient care.
It’s difficult to know how to publicise this vein of science and healthcare, but there has to be a way; the disciplines and specialisms within it are at the forefront of diagnostic medicine and research, and are a truly rewarding endeavour for those willing to persevere through the sometimes unforgiving education pathways. If I’m invited back next year, I hope to convey some of that sentiment to the next batch of hopefuls, as, like me, they won’t look back once they start.