Second Attempt at Work Experience

As I have completed my GCSEs this year, I started my summer holidays extremely early and almost a month has gone by since. I wouldn’t want that month to have gone to waste and my extra bit of holiday to amount to nothing, so I decided to do something productive and get a job, not a paid one, but a job nonetheless.

Working at my local medical practice this past week was actually quite enjoyable and I have learnt many things; it was a nice change from my last work placement and this time I got to do more than just a spot of shredding.

This is just part of what I got up to during my time at the practice:


I met everyone in the practice and they were nice and friendly. I did some scanning, stamping, opening of letters as if it were Christmas and nosed about through patients’ business (only I can’t tell you anything). I sat at reception and saw the way they prioritised patients in order of urgency, handle prescriptions and rude patients.


I spent the morning with the phlebotomist (blood-taker), learned how to find my veins (the visible blue ones), and my pulse. I held warm blood tubes and gently shook them so as not to break the cells. I noticed that not everyone is as big a wimp as I am; I saw our first patient through my fingers but then became more comfortable as I saw the ease of the procedure and the speed at which the tubes filled up. I didn’t take any blood but by the end of it I felt like I would know how to. Perhaps some dart practice to help me along…


I joined the nurse in vaccinating squirming children, poking at squidgy swollen feet and peeking into magnified ears. I learnt that cotton buds are evil and that their inventor’s motivation was purely financial. The ears had dried blood, blocking wax and a burst drum, all because of an innocent looking cotton bud. A man entered with sharp abdominal pains; trapped wind was suggested but upon checking a urine sample, blood was detected even though the urine looked perfectly normal. I also pressed a little boy’s spotty belly to see if it was meningitis but because the spots reappeared shortly after pressing and he was far too lively, it was nothing serious.


I did general admin work; updating event calendars, taking in and stamping the mail and discovering a birthday card (not for me) in the mail. I oversaw a patient consultation meeting, signing people in and making sure forms were completed. I rummaged through a neat filing system to find a patient’s notes, hidden deep within.


I spent the day with the practice manager, made call cards with everyone’s telephone numbers (for when the building gets bombed and cordoned off), got to grips with the new laminator she had just bought, typed up notices, laminated them once I had figured out the laminator, and got to go home early because she was leaving at the same time. I also signed a non-disclosure of confidential information contract, so, in case of any lawyers chasing me up, I have withheld all names and the people reading this are perfectly trust-worthy.

These are just a few of the things I noticed:

  • Everyone makes use of the internet, whether to check the symptoms of a minor ailment or to show the patient where the kidneys are in their body. The internet is an extra employee.
  • Urgency is subjective. What one person considers serious another would not even blink at. My family does not often visit the GP, but there were people requesting urgent appointments for a mosquito bite.
  • Politeness is appreciated. Many receptionists complained about the demanding nature of some patients. Not even a thankyou.

This week has been extremely beneficial in terms of gaining experience and a feel for the medical profession. I still want to be some kind of doctor, still a psychiatrist but I am now also considering working in A&E. I have another week to go and am pleased to say that I am actually looking forward to it.


Cambridge Excursion

Yesterday, in an effort to inspire the youth to aim higher and motivate them to take their studies more seriously, my class was taken on a school trip to see Cambridge University. Our lack of initial enthusiasm was evident; the coach journey was two hours long (I slept both hours) and we all just really wanted to go home as we had just completed a science exam that morning.

Cambridge University is always regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions, inaccessible to many. However, upon seeing it, my classmates were sorely disappointed and it was nothing like they had expected it to be. When asked, they had envisaged the university to be one ginormous ancient castle resembling Hogwarts. What we did not know was that the university is actually comprised of thirty-one smaller colleges scattered about the town, some fairly modern in comparison to the older buildings of much more impressive architecture.

The town is small and old-fashioned, with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, and the main mode of transport is clearly cycling. Parked bicycles littered the pavements and there were very few cars. I suppose for university students who have little money to spare, bicycles are convenient and practical with everything being within a small distance.

We saw no cloaks and nobody walked around with a pile of books but you could feel the brains working as soon as you exited the coach. Even their pubs have an intellectual touch; one was named The Sir Isaac Newton! So affected was my friend that she started speaking in a ‘posh accent’ at the top of her voice, attracting stares by everyone that passed by.

They must really love Sir Isaac Newton in Cambridge because his mathematical bridge was pointed out to me by a rather enthusiastic student. It is a curious looking bridge and the story goes that Newton built it without the use of any screws, nails or bolts. It was taken down, however, when they tried to rebuild it the same way, they were unable to and had to fix the wood together with nails. Even Cambridge myths have an intellectual theme to them.

Newton's Mathematical Bridge

We were given a talk about the university and the application process and it was informative and frightening at the same time. I don’t feel completely discouraged, just a little nervous about the future. I learned that they don’t really care what you wear to an interview and that they will never ask you to define a banana. At least that’s what they want you to believe….they could just want to catch you off guard.

The admissions man was hilarious and told as that Oxford, their rivals, are a university whose existence they ignore; they are there but we do not talk about them. He labelled them the Voldemort of Cambridge University. I asked a student and she replied “what’s Oxford university?” Apparently, the main cause of this split is competition between sporting teams, particularly rowing and they feel extremely sore about their consecutive losses to their rivals.

I doubt I will ever apply to Cambridge University; my Daddy will miss me too much and there are plenty of universities here in the capital. I wouldn’t mind though, in fact, I think I would quite enjoy living on a campus and attending lectures. If I study medicine, my time at university will be much prolonged… I can’t wait!

When I grow up, I want to be…

When I grow up, I want to be…

That’s the title every child starts off with when they first begin their education as a tiny 5-year-old and one that follows them throughout their school years. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a builder like daddy! I want to be a nurse like mummy! I want to be a teacher like you! Every child has their own response and those that don’t copy the child next to them. A response is expected.

What is also expected is for that response to change. People are indecisive, children are fickle and what could be your dream job one day could be a bore the next, especially as your interests change, you find out that you’re not actually that good a singer and you realise that if you were an astronaut you would miss your mummy too much.

I’m no different and have been through the usual winded route of twisted career paths. These include but are not limited to:

  • An aeroplane- I must have shut out this shameful memory but my parents claim that I once had this peculiar aspiration.
  • A baker- I have an adorable photograph of myself in a white baker’s hat and apron for a school assembly.
  • A secret agent- If it happens, you’ll be the last to know.
  • Lawyer- A terrible work experience thwarted me of this career. Legally Blonde is just a movie.
  • Vampire- one word: Twilight
  • Journalist- I’m a blogger. That counts, right?
  • Writer- Forever and always. I can always write in my free time and be a writer on the sidelines, it doesn’t have to be my main career and I don’t need to get a degree to learn how to write. It’s just something that you do and that evolves naturally; the more you take in reading, the more you give out in writing.

Inspired my media, friends and the latest craze, those are some of the career options I have entertained in my unsettled mind.

It’s just so difficult deciding what you want to spend the rest of your life doing and there is so much pressure to make the right decision, especially now. Unemployment rates are toppling, university fees are rocketing and all you hear from the depressing news is that even if you go to university and dedicate years of your life studying, you will amount to nothing. Universities are extremely competitive, you will never get a place. If you get a place, you’ll drown in debt. If you survive university, you still won’t get a job. If you get a job, your wages will be cut or you’ll become redundant after your first week. All the horror stories about Britain’s unemployed youth are enough to make me feel like giving up, before I’ve even started.

Nevertheless, I think that I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up and it is something that nobody expected; I surprised even myself. I want to be a doctor. Seriously. I cried when I had to get a blood test, but I still want to be a doctor. It is nothing that I have ever considered. When I was younger and we played make-belief hospitals, I was always the patient but I suppose you don’t always know what you want when you’re younger. When you’re younger you want everything and not always the right things.

It makes more sense if I explain that I want to be a psychiatrist and to do that I have to go through medicine and then specialise. I’m a deep thinker and a professional over-analyst so the job suits me perfectly. No blood or guts, just take a step into my office for a lovely chat and tell me how that makes you feel. That’s more like me, not that I mind being a ‘doctor’ either, although I’m sure it would take some adjusting to, but just like with anything else, determination can take you a long way. I’m sure that if you know the theory behind it, you won’t be so squeamish when its time to stick a tube into someone.

Since voicing my intention to enter the field of medicine, my family has embraced it whole heartedly. I never thought it of you, but now that I think about it, I can imagine having a doctor as a daughter. Which daughter is the question, because now both my younger sisters have decided that they might want to be doctors as well. Junior Doctors (BBC3) is now a family favourite and I’m sure that pretty soon I’ll have paper-cuts and twisted ankles to examine.

It may never happen, I may change my mind again but I’m really starting to think that this is it. I even e-mailed Imperial College to ask about their entry requirements! If that doesn’t show commitment ,then what does?

Wouldn’t it be funny if in twenty years time, I look back at this post, shake my head and think, “I can’t believe I wanted to be a doctor,” before telling my class that it’s time to go outside and play? The future is a tricky thing to control or even to guess right and you never know what’s waiting for you. I don’t believe those people that say, they always knew what they were meant for. How about you?

What are you afraid of?

PhobiasWhat are we all scared of? Is it snakes, heights or even homework? Every single one of us, whether we admit it or not, is scared of something, but does that mean we all suffer from a phobia? To answer this question we must first look at the definition of a phobia.

It is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer goes to great lengths to avoid, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed and often being recognized as irrational by the sufferer themselves.

They are more than just simple fears and the impact they can have on a life can be significant. Imagine not being able to walk out of your front door because you fear the people on the outside. You try to overcome it. You push yourself to just take one more tiny step but as you move your leg forward, your body starts to tremble, you start sweating, you find it hard to breath, as if something were choking you; headaches, dizziness, a ringing in your ears. You may even faint. It sounds unpleasant but these are only some of the symptoms of a phobia. In this case; agoraphobia, the fear of people and open spaces.

There are many other types of phobias, some more common than others. For example; claustrophobia; fear of enclosed spaces, arachnophobia; spiders, acrophobia; heights, glossophobia; public speaking and hemophobia; fear of blood. There is a phobia for just about anything and if you were to be crafty and use them as excuses you could also get away with just about anything. Alourophobia; the fear of reading aloud, arithmophobia; numbers, bibliophobia; fear of books, epistemophobia; knowledge and scolionophobia; fear of school, could all be used as excuses if you can produce a valid medical certificate.

Although there are many different phobias you will find that sometimes the word phobia, Greek for fear, is just used as a suffix to create many imaginary phobias that do not medically exist. For example Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – fear of long words which is quite obviously a joke and not an actual phobia.

Phobias vary in severity among individuals. Some people can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over that fear whilst other may go into full-blown panic attacks at a mere picture. They can also develop at different times. Simple phobias usually develop in early childhood, often between the ages of four and eight, usually because of an early childhood experience e.g. if as a young child you were trapped in a confined space, you may develop a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) and if you share the same phobia with another family member, such as a fear of spiders (arachnophobia), you may have learned to fear spiders as a child, rather than the phobia being passed on genetically.

The exact causes of more complex phobias, such as agoraphobia and social phobia, are unknown. However, it is thought that genetics, brain chemistry and life experiences may all play a part in the development of these phobias.

Nevertheless, they are all treatable through various ways including; counselling, psychotherapy, group therapy, hypnotherapy, and in severe cases antidepressant medications. For anyone with a phobia there is always hope. You were not born this way so there is no reason to accept it.

Phobias can affect everyone and anyone. Male, female, old and young; everyone. Not even the rich and famous are exempt from their effects. Many notable celebrities have admitted to phobias such as Johnny Depp who has clourophobia; fear or clowns, Madonna with brontophobia; fear of thunder, Orlando Bloom; swinophobia, pigs, and Nicole Kidman; lepidopterophobia; fear of butterflies. It is reported that even Julius Caesar, a great Roman emperor who ruled over thousands, had a phobia and it wasn’t defeat or invasion. It was cats. He suffered from ailurophobia, a fact which is not very well-known and which I am sure he would have liked to remain secret.

In fact, some phobias could remain secret forever. An estimated 10 million people in the UK have phobias but the number could be far greater. Either one of us could form a part of this statistic. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, states that if a phobic stimulus, whether it be an object or a social situation, is absent entirely in an environment – a diagnosis cannot be made. An example of this situation would be an person who has a fear of sharks(Selachophobia) but lives in an area devoid of sharks. Even though the concept of sharks causes them distress and impairment, because they do not encounter sharks in the environment no actual distress or impairment is ever experienced.

Therefore, many of us may have phobias that in our present environment we are not aware of or may never be aware of. You may have, novercaphobia – fear of your stepmother but until you get one, you will never know. We may all have dormant phobias. If they ever awaken just remember to seek help…