Have You Ever Tested A Robot?

I haven’t. That part comes in a few weeks.

I have, however, BEEN the robot in question, as today, I provided the voice and cardiac controls in my university’s simulation suite.
My peers performed ECGs on a rather frightening, dead-eyed humanoid that was, unbeknownst to them and in ME
conjunction with my voice, being used as a conduit for a scenario pertinent to our learning. That’s me on the right, there, next to my control station (a closer view makes up the header for this post) which allowed me to alter heart rate, breathing rate, create a whole host of arrhythmias and not only see my colleagues, but speak to and hear them as well.

I was a patient named Christopher Smith who had been admitted to A&E. That was all the information that had been supplied, barring my NHS number and date of birth. It was the job of my fellow students to check three patient identifiers, get a brief idea of what was wrong with me and to perform an ECG accordingly, with a brief assessment of the adjustments needed and that of the trace itself.

It was made clear both before and after the session, that it was ok to make mistakes and that this was predominantly what the session was for. It’s extremely unnerving, having a conversation with an expressionless robot that can visibly and audibly breathe, so it was nice to be reassured that the pressure wasn’t as high as it could have been.

Everything going to plan, it would emerge that my chest pain was a result of atrial fibrillation and a heart rate of a mere 32-35bpm. It was also an assessment of how quickly we prioritised the test itself. Due to the presenting chest pains, attaching the limb leads first, so as to gain a visible rhythm strip before a full 12-lead was the correct response, then adjusting the paper speed on the trace itself so as to provide an useable ECG was the next desired step. All the while, I was talking to the student practitioner, asking questions about the test and about the situation in order to see how they reacted and whether they felt comfortable keeping me, as a patient, calm at the same time as carrying out the test with the required level of haste.

These sessions were filmed and then followed a group feedback discussion. The group seemed pleased with the outcome, overall. The comments made were mostly of a positive nature, and the few criticisms there were from myself, my peers and our lecturer, were minor and constructive. This has most certainly been my most enjoyable session to date, and one I did not mind getting up at 4:30am to help set up, so needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

I will add that the first half of the session used me as a living mannequin. The reasons that I didn’t comment on this until now are twofold;

  1. It was effectively the same as what I have written about, only without the technology
  2. Seeing my naked torso on film reminded me that I’m still carrying holiday weight. This wouldn’t be a problem, were it not the weight from four holidays.

Thanks!

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Q. What Natural Phenomenon Can Speak In Any Language?

Echo_TTEA. An echo.

EDIT 17/9/15:

It has been brought to my attention that I didn’t word some of my last post particularly well. Upon looking this over, this is indeed the case.

It was not my intention to convey that healthcare scientists need not perform ECGs I intended to imply that whilst on my last placement, physiologists did not perform them, it was the responsibility of the A.T.O. hence, this is what led my mentor to say what they did regarding newly qualified and echo. This may not be the case across all trusts.

I neglected to include that due to the advanced nature of the practise of echocardiography, it is not featured in the PTP program. (This is good news for me and anyone else currently studying this degree, as I shudder to think of the extra workload that would be associated with it).

If in future I make an error such as this, let me know and I shall endeavour to rectify it.

Many thanks,

TSP.

ORIGINAL POST:

Having seen what trust-employed cardiac physiologists are required to do, it seems rather strange to me that echocardiography isn’t really taught in either the PTP or STP programmes. By all accounts, it’s touched upon in the final stretch of the STP pathway, but not in a comprehensive manner. Assistant Technical Officers perform the vast majority of ECGs in my trust, so it isn’t necessary for qualified healthcare scientists to be placed in that area. My mentor told me that her cardiology department needs echocardiographers and that the discipline is underinstructed by the universities. Bear in mind this is only because it isn’t a part of the syllabus as it’s not currently required by the framework of Modernising Scientific Careers.
As a result, the trust I have been stationed in has taken to rounding up the students and providing its own echo tutorials after the working day is finished.
This is a great idea and is beyond the call of duty for the department physiologists, but it doesn’t strike me as something that should fall to the trust to have to subsidise. Echo is an increasingly utilised skill and the one that hospitals need their physiologists to be proficient in. If it isn’t being taught at undergraduate or masters level, then trusts will have to pay for the training and overtime required to bring their staff up to speed with each new generation of practitioners.

Over the summer, my university has purchased an echocardiography unit, so I assume we’ll have a bit of a head start, but surely if the practice of echocardiography is so important in the profession, it’s something that should be mandatory to teach in the academic training. Perhaps this is something that will be factored into the equation as the PTP and STP courses continue to change over time.

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The Times They Are A-Changing.

Hello again!

It seems that as soon as I mentioned just how quickly this profession is evolving, something has been raised that enables me to give you an idea of how much.

This blog is called The Student Physiologist. The career’s professionals are known as physiologists or physiological scientists, ergo, myself and my peers are subsequently coined physiology students.

This, however, will soon be a thing of the past, as by the time I qualify, these terms will no longer exist. In their place will be Healthcare Scientist.

It’s difficult to find any sort of identity in such a changing professional environment and this difficulty is bolstered when a physiological scientist tries to explain their role within the NHS. We are among the most patient-facing scientists in the clinical setting, yet we are arguably the least “seen”, in that no matter the description of who you are and what your job is, patients and other staff alike will invariably refer to you as “nurse” or “doctor”. Whilst doctors and consultants are prevalent in this career, it is difficult to convey to patients and staff, the differences between medic and scientist in both the hospital and these roles specifically.

This has highlighted to me, the need for a global identity and perhaps a way for we, as the people with that identity, to forge it for ourselves.

As the evolution moves ever forward, this blog may be named The Healthcare Scientist and I may be signing off with the same name.
We shall see.

Thank you.

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An Introduction.

Hello.

I have this last academic year, completed my first full year of Cardiac Physiology.
My course consisted of four modules, each focusing on broad, yet still specific areas of science and scientific practice.

The modules were as follows;

Biomedical Skills.
– Medical physics, algebra, calculus, etc.

Anatomy and Physiology.
– Exactly what it sounds like; anatomical systems, terminology, dissection, prosection, and a hell of a lot of pop quizzes.

Cellular biochemistry and Genetics.
– Microscopy, mrganic chemistry, pharmacology and, shockingly… Genetics.

Physiology and Patient Care.
– The physics, biology and methodology behind various medical tests and how to use and perform them, then interpret the results, patient psychology and care, and the pathology of cardiac and respiratory disease, etc.

I refrained from creating this blog until the start of my second year due to the irrelevant content of the first year as a whole. Whilst the first three modules listed were required by the curriculum, they were far from ‘physiology-centric’ and the final module was little more than a (very good) detailed introduction. This will change, however, from here on out.
I must stress that this is not a slight on the course structure or its content so far, as nearly everything that myself and my colleagues have been taught has been engaging and informative, I simply felt that to document such a broad range of topics on a Cardiac Physiology blog would quickly become something akin to an unwanted university lifestyle diary. I can assure you, that aside from study tips, this shall not be the case.

The next steps of my journey are the ones that will be of greatest interest to fellow students, physiologists and hopefully to the relevant governing bodies.

In the forthcoming posts, I shall document my feelings on the course structure, content, struggles I have encountered and where the career path seems to be going.
I intend to post once a week without fail, but will update with more frequency as points of interest present themselves.

To those just starting their journey, I will post some relevant information regarding the Physiology module from last year, but mainly to assist with what’s to come.

If you know anyone who is currently journeying down this pathway, or is thinking of doing so, point them in this direction. I aim to network, exchange ideas, discuss common issues and everything in between.

Thank you.

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