Tuesday, 19 June 2012
It's the time of year when the university building is very quiet with most of our students either out in practice or on their summer break. It is a time for reflection and preparation for the new semester where we will welcome our progressing students back, as well as the new students who commence a range of courses here in my institution. As well as these things, the 'summer' period (not sure whether to call it summer this year!) is time for scholarship and research - both work on existing projects as well as time to work up ideas to take forward in the next session for funding bids. Although busy, there is a sense of a 'pause' in overt activity (i.e. running from teaching sessions, to student meetings, to staff meetings, to......) and I was wondering about our degree students with their 45 week academic year (outwith our circle of influence as this is prescribed) - they never get a pause in any sense of the word throughout their three years as far as I can see. Yes, they have annual leave - but for most of them this will probably involve study, work, family care..... We work hard to ensure that we offer students support in all sorts of areas of their lives (through our personal tutor system, central university services etc.), but I do wonder if the unstinting focus on their course (alongside everything else they do) may be detrimental to their experience as a student.
Friday, 15 June 2012
I walked the MoonWalk last weekend in Edinburgh and am proud to say that I finished within our target timeframe (under 7 hours - the bottlenecks would not allow us to maintain our 15 minute average). We set out in the rain, and felt our poor old joints stiffening as we approached the 20 mile mark. I spent the last 6 miles wishing that something would happen that would merit the intervention of a paramedic.....but thankfully this was not required (thanks to my new Jack White album for distraction therapy!). However, I woke to a painful foot on Monday. Inter-professional working is alive and kicking in my institution, as my physiotherapy colleagues helpfully provided me with strapping and crutches - and a diagnosis. I was advised to attend my local A and E and now am reflecting on the way in which I reverted to disempowered and compliant patient mode. I apologised for bothering the doctor, did not press when I was given a diagnosis that did not make sense, and left without any discussion about how the wearing of trainers would enable me to weight bear. It was an interesting experience that, for me, sheds some light on the patient experience and what matters. Of course we want to be dealt with by people with the knowledge that ensures that we receive the correct treatment (and usually we take this for granted and rightly so). But if we take 'correct care' as a given, then my priority is compassionate care - even in a situation which is not life and death but one which impacts on my own personal lifestyle and work needs. Education for compassionate care is at the forefront of my thinking at the moment - as health professionals we need to be providing evidence-based care within a compassionate framework of working practice. We are grappling with this every day as we work with our students to enable them to become the best they can be.