Question Time with Bristol University’s medical student’s rugby team

Early March saw Circle Bath Hospital host an evening for 28 medical students from Bristol University’s rugby team.

The medical students came for one of their partnership sessions with Circle Bath’s consultants to understand more about their choices as doctors of the future.

Lively and informative evening

The evening used the format of Question Time, with six consultants answering a series of questions related to NHS and private practice. It involved lots of interjecting by both the students and consultants during lively discussion. The medical students ranged from second year to fifth year graduates.

Mr Otto Von Arx, Consultant Spinal Surgeon said: “Circle’s progressive approach to supporting doctors of the future is welcomed by all of us. It is important to keep the enthusiasm going and look after medical students who have exciting but testing times ahead of them. This is a proactive initiative by Circle which should be endorsed and has our complete support.”

Topics covered during the evening included:

  • Working in a private hospital
  • How to choose the right speciality for private practice
  • Advice on what’s important from a training perspective
  • How to get on in private practice
  • Changes within the NHS
  • The future of medicine and the NHS

Consultant’s view

Dr Richard Graham, Consultant Radiologist, relayed some very amusing stories about how he had made the choices he’d made by initially joining the Territorial Army as a medic and chatted about his experience in the military.

Mr Alex Cowey, Consultant Hand Surgeon, entertained the students with his dry wit and humour and explained his experience as a trainer at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. He provided valuable information about the importance of Foundation 1 and Foundation 2 level training for the students.

Mr Otto Von Arx, Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon, gave a different perspective having trained in South Africa. He expressed how lucky medical students in the UK are with the breadth of choice and opportunities available to them. He encouraged travelling at some point and expressed how it enriched his life.

Mr Andrew Chamber, Consultant Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon, talked about American exams if they wanted to work in America and suggested how beneficial it is to work in another country. For those interested in going to America he suggested that they should consider working for their American finals at the same time as their UK finals.

Mr Ben Lankester, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, talked in detail about how medicine has changed in the short time he has been involved. He expressed how there will be massive changes in their lifetime and the need to think about the future and how technology might change their speciality. He encouraged the students to think about how their chosen speciality will change with the increasing role of robotics. He said “will surgeons be sitting in a room pressing buttons in the future?”

Mr Mike Williamson, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, encouraged the students to choose a speciality they really enjoy as they’re going to be doing it for a long time. He said they should consider work-life balance. He believes that doctors of tomorrow will be much more supported with greater balance and understanding.

Question time

Questions from the students included:

  • What’s good about working at a hospital such as Circle?
  • Advice on how ‘what you do in your training’ affects your choices in the future.
  • Where do the panel feel healthcare is going with the current government? This created a lively debate. The panel gave a positive outlook and suggested that things will get better in the future giving the team hope.
  • Burn out – how do you manage it and what to consider?
  • How do the panel deal with the extreme pressures from the NHS?

To do the best for patients

The consultants all expressed that ultimately they want to do the best for their patients but with challenging funding and organisational issues it’s not always straightforward. They said that working at Circle is a very different experience because the operational efficiencies allow them to perform at their very best. It was suggested that if you could replicate the efficiencies and mind-set of Circle hospitals elsewhere it would be hugely beneficial for everyone involved in healthcare.

Clement Stratford, 5th-year medical student at Bristol University said: “It was an absolute pleasure to sit down with 6 consultants from the Circle in Bath and discuss medicine in such an open and honest way. For the younger years especially, it was a real eye opener not just in terms of future careers, but also about working in Private Practice which isn’t discussed at all in the medical school curriculum.

“It is a real privilege to be able to pick the minds of consultants with such established careers in order to find out what life is really like at the highest level and how to get there. It provided clarity on many of the pathways to get to top specialties such as Orthopaedics and General Surgery, but also showed the sheer variation in work within the same specialty. Overall, the experience was thoroughly enjoyed by all and the United Bristol Hospitals are proud to have formed such a close partnership with Circle and hope to work together for many years to come”.

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