Hello everyone! I hope you have all had a lovely Easter holidays, and that you are fully settled back into university! It’s been so awesome being back and seeing all of my housemates. Luckily the weather has been so nice and sunny for the past week, which has allowed for some pretty great revision breaks. We’ve already managed to squeeze in an evening BBQ, attempted slack lining in the playing fields opposite our house and tried our hand at rowing in Roath Park.
But aside from the fun… and all the revision, we are still as a year group working our way through the last 2 cases of phase 1 of our course. And the case we’ve been focussing on this week is all about rural health. So as part of this case we’ve all had the opportunity to head up to the Brecon Beacons for the day to visit Bronllys Hospital and the Brecon War Memorial Hospital. Which has allowed us to begin to understand the challenges of rural medical practice here in Wales.
As a girl who was born and brought up in the city, I’m definitely guilty of taking my access to health care for granted. Surrounded by multiple specialist clinics, countless general practices and even Wales’ biggest hospital the Heath, I’ve never had to think twice about where to go or how to get medical help when I’ve needed it. It wasn’t until this rural medicine day that I was able to appreciate how even just 50 miles from where I was living, the healthcare system and set up was worlds apart from what I was used to, both as a patient and as a medical student.
The day started with us all rotating around OSCE style stations, which were focussed on different aspects of first aid. We were taught how to perform interrupted sutures, assess and treat burns, how to put patients into the recovery position and evaluate them using the Glasgow Coma Scale and NEWS chart, as well as refreshing our memory on how to perform basic life support.
We then had the opportunity to take part in a road traffic collision scenario. Whilst walking through Brecon as a group we came across what appeared to be an accident involving a motorbike and a car. If you looked a little closer we then spotted two motorcyclists lying unconscious on the ground, and the driver of the car experiencing severe chest pains. We then had to treat this scenario as we would of if we were the first people on scene. The exercise was incredibly realistic, with us even being required to dial 999 to speak to the ambulance operator. Allowing us to learn how to deliver information accurately to the emergency services. Low and behold, ambulances then arrived on the scene, and the paramedics took us through what they would then do in order to stabilise the patients ready to transfer them to hospital. This exercise really allowed us to all see how critical the ‘golden hour’ is in the case of trauma patients, and how being in a rural area can really compromise the ambulance response times to emergency situations.
In the afternoon, we then spent some time in the Brecon War Memorial Community Hospital. It was incredibly interesting to see just how different community hospitals are compared to big specialist tertiary centres such as the heath. I was impressed to discover just how much these community hospitals could offer patients despite being so geographically isolated, with the hospital having operating theatres, an x ray department and a midwife led birthing unit.
Experiencing rural medicine for the day meant that I was able to comprehend the difficult decisions that people in rural areas have to make, in terms of their access to healthcare. It was while we were speaking to a midwife in the birthing unit, that it suddenly occurred to me that most women in this area will not have quick access to Obstetrician care should they require it. As some women could be over 30 minutes away from their nearest district general hospital at the time of their labour. Which could carry serious risks to both the mother and child in an event of an unexpected, serious complication during the delivery.
So although we were all pretty exhausted after our first day back on placement after our Easter holidays, (my housemates can vouch for the fact that I managed to fall asleep before 7pm), we all had such an incredible day escaping Cardiff and lectures and enjoying the great outdoors!
So I better get back to revising for my mock ISCE on Thursday! I hope revision isn’t too awful! Just remember that the end is near, and how awesome summer is going to be! Because let’s face it. Anything is better than revising!
See you soon!