Reflecting on my SSCP

At the end of third year, your final placement is a 4 week Student-Selected block. You rank your 7 most preferred along with every body else and you are matched to the highest one, depending on how many others have ranked them in a similar fashion. I really, really wanted neonatal HDU, but ended up getting Paediatric Anaesthesia.

Unbeknown to me at the time, I would be spending a fair amount of time with neonates anyway! Anaesthesia appealed to me for lots of different reasons; it's very hands on, lots of one-to-one teaching, it can be quite varied. Saying that, working with young children rather than neonates didn't really appeal to me, spending a humongous amount of time in theatre also didn't particularly lavish me with enthusiasm and so I was fairly apprehensive about this placement.

I needn't worry. I've had an absolute ball. I learnt how to bag and mask tiny tiny babies, attempted (unsuccessfully) cannulation, spent time with some of the most fantastic consultants i've had the pleasure of spending time with and was given loads of advice. It was apparent how hugely varied different doctors career pathway had been to get to become a paediatric anaesthetics. The downside to this placement was being in the middle of the NHS inefficiencies. Surgeries that could have, should have, would have gone ahead are cancelled last minute because of bed shortages; this translated into a lot of time in the coffee room for me. Other than that, I cannot complain. Everyone I worked with went above and beyond to teach me and by the end of the four weeks I had come to get real comfortable with the idea that anaesthetics is something I really want to do.

The difficulty for me lies within teasing out whether its paediatric anaesthesia, paediatrics, or anaesthesia that is providing the attraction. For sure, paediatric anaesthetists as people seem to be my kinda people. It's so nice when you think you find "your people". There are stereotypes of people within every specialty and while I can't put my finger on what it is about paediatric anaesthetists, I think that they are great.

This 4 week block simply set a new standard of what it means to enjoy placement. Are you reading a blog from a future anaesthetist? May be.