Tuesday 7th October 2008 by C. Freeman
Two Brooke Weston Sixth Formers saw births and operations when they had placements at Northampton General Hospital. Zafir Manji and Jamie Scoular both plan to join the medical profession and the week-long stint gave them an insight into potential careers.
As soon as Zafir arrived he saw an emergency caesarean and was present at a hip replacement and an operation to remove throat cancer. Jamie also witnessed caesareans, an angioplasty procedure to unblock a heart artery, a knee replacement and eye surgery on several cataracts.
The students also accompanied doctors and consultants on their ward rounds and saw typical scenes in busy medical departments. They witnessed major operations and delicate procedures performed using keyhole surgery. Jamie said: 'It was amazing when they did the knee replacement because they were using so many different saws and implements. There were five trolleys, two surgeons and another surgeon who was just passing the equipment as it was so complex that the surgeon needed someone who knew the equipment as well as they did.'
Jamie said: 'Although the surgery was memorable I spent the day with the paediatric oncologist (childhood cancer specialist) and mums were coming in and their child had relapsed or had suspected cancer, that sort of thing. That's when you realise how much these doctors actually do and the responsibilities that they have.'
Both Zafir and Jamie are studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths at A Level and they have already started applying for university places. It takes five years of university study to become a doctor which is consolidated by at least a further seven to 10 years of study depending on what they want to specialise in.
Northampton General Hospital offers observational placements to students seriously considering a medical career and both Jamie and Zafir were made to feel part of the team. Zafir said: 'When the consultants were doing a medical procedure they would tell you what was going on. When I saw the throat cancer taken out the surgeon was talking to me at the same time. He showed me the glands and the voicebox, the arteries and everything.' Jamie said: 'During a two-and-a-half hour long operation the anaesthetist was quizzing me about how much I knew and gave advice on what might be asked in my interview for university.'
Consultant anaesthetist Dr Natasha Robinson co-ordinates the scheme at Northampton General Hospital. She said: 'Real life medicine is rather different to that portrayed on television so we try to show students the realities of daily hospital work. We offer a properly structured programme where students go to a range of departments and mix with a broad spread of professionals from medical students to consultants, and also radiographers, nurses and techicians. We are especially grateful to the patients who allow these students to be present during their treatment.'
In order to gain a place on the scheme students have to be aged over 17 with six or more A* or A graded GCSEs and be on course for a minimum of two A graded and one B graded A Levels. The hospital receives at least 70 applications per year for the week-long placements and candidates have to supply testimonials, have an induction session and be CRB checked. Around 60 students attend the scheme annually.
Both Zafir and Jamie really benefited from their time at the hospital and also spent time chatting to the patients. One man, who had lost his speech since suffering a stroke, spoke his first words to Jamie who was doing the ward rounds with a doctor. Jamie said: 'It was a great experience working at the hospital but I don't think I can pick out a favourite bit; I was doing something different every day.'