Feb. 24, 2020
My typical day as a medical student usually starts at 7am. When entering the clinic the team is already being welcomed by a queue of patients waiting for us. We prepare the rooms together (and also clean together after work). After that I start, get my instructions from the receptionist, buddy up with an interpreter and welcome the first patient.
The majority of the day I am doing triage. That means:
1. getting a first impression of the clinical situation
2. taking the main complaints
and 3. making a decision – is this an emergency? Is this complicated but able to to wait for an appointment later today, or am I able to solve the problem with symptomatic treatment or advice?
To make this decision, there are helpful protocols available – and of course the advice of the reception doctor.
Working as a medical student means to be clear about the limits of what I can, and what I am allowed to do. After each triage I always catch up with the reception doctor to discuss the case and to create a plan. We have a very approachable and supportive team, which always makes things easier!
In the consultations, it can be quite challenging, I try to be as quick as possible but still give enough time for everyone to feel welcome and appropriately treated.
For languages I don't speak them myself, I always have an interpreter with me. Their role is crucial and they help a lot through their positivity, experience in the clinic and their cultural awareness.
Patients come with very different issues. That makes every day surprising and full of new and interesting things! Each day varies and I see a variety of conditions such as kids with a cold, mental health issues, tropical medicine, gynae problems and chronic disease. Due to the patients experiences and living conditions we are facing many health problems that need more specialised care than Samos can provide.
I find this especially challenging in triage, because it is often my job to explain about the limited possibilities, not being able to give some aspects of care but still to treat each individual in their difficult situation and help with small things.
On other days, there are special jobs to do. For example, I am responsible for taking blood. Or I sometimes leave the clinic earlier to give a health workshop in one of the women centres. These workshops are a lovely change to the daily schedule as they give me the chance to meet and empower our female patients in a very relaxed setting.
Depending on the day, the amount of patients, the team and the personal workload can vary a lot. But there is always something to do wether it be assisting the nurses, unpacking boxes or checking equipment. Improving the small things can make such a difference. However, this isn’t the usual as we never turn away children, pregnant women or those acutely unwell, and sometimes this can go on until 5 or 6pm.
Volunteering on Samos gives me the chance to question my view on the world everyday as it shows me the very dark and the very bright sides people have to face in their life. I’m glad to say that working in this team belongs to the bright sides, is inspiring and brings me a lot further in developing so many different skills!