A big part of my decision to come to DIS Stockholm was the fact that I would be able to partake in some sort of clinical hands-on experience. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint!
My Translational Medicine core course got to go on two separate field studies to Södersjukhuset, a hospital in the Southern part of the city, to learn more about Basic Life Support and also learn about basic clinical skills.
Field Study One:
Our first trip to Söderjukhuset came a week after our long study tour. This one was all about basic life support, so we learned about CPR techniques and the way to approach situations where we would need to apply those techniques.
In the four hours that we were there, we got to learn the basic techniques of CPR and how to operate an AED properly, practice on little dummies and also, we got the chance to practice real-life scenarios with a full-size dummy. Snacks were also provided (cookies and lingonberry juice), which was FANTASTIC! I love Sweden.
Overall, I was really excited to be able to do some hands-on clinical experience. Coming out of the London study tour, it was nice to come back as a group and learn new things. Something that I found incredibly interesting from this field study was the fact that many protocols for CPR are different in Sweden as opposed to the US. In Sweden, for example, you don’t take the pulse of a person before performing CPR as it takes up too much time. You also do resuscitation breaths as a default (as opposed to in the US where it’s optional). It was great to be able to see in person how healthcare can differ across the world, and how protocols that I thought was universal can actually differ in many ways.
Field Study Two:
After about two weeks, we returned for a final session with the staff at Södersjukhuset, and for me, this was my favorite one. This weeks topic was clinical skills (what I know)! We were split up into small groups and sent to different stations to learn about the magic that is clinical skills and techniques!
The first station that we got to visit was the IV station, where we learned how to properly interact with a patient before inserting an IV, the actual act of inserting an IV and bandaging the patient after. I was able to experience first-hand, how hard it is to manage all the tools all the while holding the tube stable in the patient’s vein. It absolutely made me appreciate the work that nurses do a lot more, especially due to the fact that I was only practicing on a dummy that didn’t move, not a real human person who would probably flinch a lot more.
After that, we moved on to our next station: suturing. We were able to learn how to do interrupted stitches, as well as intradermal stitches and also just learn about how to use the specific medical tools necessary for suturing. This was something that I’ve done before and have learned prior to this experience but being able to do it again with new instructions was really helpful.
Finally, we went to the lumbar puncture station and learned how to do a spinal tap which was awesome to do. A spinal tap is something that I never thought I’d be able to learn how to do before medical school, so I was extremely grateful for a chance to learn and practice in a small group setting. We also learned how to intubate a patient with a fake head (obviously) and it was very eye-opening to see how one little mistake could be detrimental for the patient and wrong technique could lead to taking out someone’s teeth. NOT something you would want to do, so practice is definitely necessary!!
At the end of these sessions, I’m able to say that I’ve learned so much and gained so much knowledge on the hands-on part of medicine. It was a great compliment activity to our study tours and all the lectures that we took part in. To actually see both the research and clinical aspects of medicine and be able to do some hands-on activities was very rewarding and gave me a new love for medicine, and further solidifying that this is the path that I want to take for my future.
I had so much fun, I got to hang out with some of my closest friends, and I got to do things that I love! Plus, I got to wear scrubs (even though they were basically paper… but that doesn’t matter it still looked cool).