Day 33 - Palpation (27/10/2017)

Hospital day! Definitely my favourite day of the timetable - started at 8am with a lecture on imaging of the urinary tract, and clinical diseases thereof. Into the anatomy labs afterwards, for a more hands-on approach. Picking up plastinated bits of tissue is always such a strange experience, but I can't think of a better way to do it.

This was followed by our second radiography session. I'm horrifically ashamed to say that I fell asleep and therefore remember very little of it. This was probably down to a combination of weaning myself off the caffeine tablets and the raised temperature inside a very dark seminar room. According to the people sat next to me I looked very much engaged throughout and was nodding almost enthusiastically in my seat. At least the lecturers were kind enough (or thankfully unaware enough) not to pick on me.

In the afternoon we had a double-length clinical skills session, our first introduction to performing an abdominal exam. This required exposing our very own abdomens as we naturally practice on one other - a fact that we were apparently supposed to be warned about in advance. Ah well.

There were a lot of new skills to pick up, including palpation (pressing down in a convincing-looking manner while making affirmative noises to yourself despite having no idea what's happening); and percussing (striking the back of a digit pressed against the patient's skin to assess the density of the material underneath). You can use these techniques to find organs of interest and investigate any enlargement or tenderness. We also performed auscultations, in this case the process of listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope for any unusual bowel sounds.

I think these things are going to take A LOT of practice to get used to. I'm really enjoying the progression through our clinical skills classes, as it feels like we're covering a lot of ground reasonably quickly. Our first OSCEs are in December so there's a lot to get used to remembering, but I think most of us would like to think we could make confident and competent clinicians one day, so it's an area that I very much feel motivated to improve in as much as possible.