Meeting my first patient
The first day of clinical work can be daunting for medical students. Stephanie Wilmore remembers it well
It was the day I met my first patient. She was a French woman in her mid-60s, who had been admitted for an elective anastomosis after the removal of a locally advanced cancer of the rectum a year previously. She had received radical surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. This had necessitated her using a stoma bag. She looked healthy, if slightly overweight, but she said she was attending an exercise class.
I took her history, observing the standard procedure outlined in the briefing session, but I was puzzled as to why I had to ask so many apparently irrelevant questions. I presumed it was a safety measure to cover every conceivable eventuality relating to the health of the patient. I also met her husband and we talked about France, where I spent much of my childhood, before scrubbing up to assist in her operation.
I went to see the patient a