Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Little Unscientific Use Of Students!

So maybe now is an appropriate moment to consider the role of students in the NHS.

Students have to learn and obviously there has to be a certain amount of contact with patients in order to achieve this. However, there are times when patient/parent views and even patient confidentiality are compromised by this.

It has never been unusual to arrive at outpatients to find a row of students sat in the consulting room. Nobody would ever give you prior notice of this. Sometimes we wouldn't be bothered by their presence but sometimes we would rather they weren't there. On one occasion I mentioned this to a nurse in outpatients and stated that there are times when you don't want students there - the response was that we had no choice in the matter and if students were there we would just have to put up with it!

On the wards doctors would sometimes bring students to see Hari and discuss her range of problems. Now then - some doctors would have the decency to ask first if this was acceptable to us - but some doctors would just turn up with a group of students and begin their discussion without asking us and without even explaining that the accompanying group were students! Obviously they were the breed of doctors who believed that patients were not individuals and had no rights - after all - all patients were clearly OWNED by the hospital!!!!! Sometimes students would arrive to see Hari on the ward or in another department - well that was clearly one way for consultants and registrars to get rid of them for an hour - so we had to put up with them instead!

Possibly one of the most shocking student incidents on the ward was the day a group of students arrived - gawped at Hari as they walked past her bed and then headed straight for the trolley that housed the medical notes at the nurses' station. Once there, they pulled out Hari's notes and proceeded to go through them, reading out sections to each other and voicing their (generally very wrong) opinions of Hari and her symptoms - whilst they were doing this they kept looking across at Hari and myself identifying the subject of their discussion to the whole ward - and the whole ward could hear everything they said! Once they had finished this strange activity they disappeared again - I really should have read them the riot act in the middle of the ward but I was shocked by the appallingly low standard of their behaviour and had expected that one of the nurses present on the ward would have stopped them - that was clearly hoping for too much!

The lesson to be learnt is that medical students should only be present with the express permission of the patient and should be kept on a very short lead!

Unfortunately the lesson they appear to be learning is that it is OK for them to totally disregard the rights and feelings of patients and their families.

No comments: