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Post 28 A Bizarre Medical Interview

It was 1966 and 70 newly qualified doctors were applying for their first medical job as house officers at Manchester Royal Infirmary. Frederick Swindles, the secretary to the Medical Board, appeared holding a clipboard.He called for attention, then detailed the arrangements for the interviews. Eight posts were available.
“You will be called into the interview room in two groups,” he said.“The first group will be doctors with surnames from A to M.The second group will be doctors whose names range from N to Z.
I will lead each group into the committee room. Inside, you will find the consultants sitting on the right hand side. You will line up opposite the consultants with Dr Abbott at the far end and Dr McDonald, as the last one to enter the room, by the door. When you are all in place, I shall call out your names one by one.You will answer to your name in turn.At the completion of this exercise there may be a pause and some conversation between the consultants - but when you get a signa…

Post 27 The day I became a doctor

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My anxiety increased with every step, as I walked from the station to Manchester University’s imposing Whitworth Hall.I was on my way to discover whether I had passed the final medical school examination.

Arriving just after 9.30 I paused, took a long deep breath, then opened the door of this historic building.This was the moment when I would discover whether I was a doctor or whether I was a failure.If the latter, I faced a further six months of hard graft revising for the ‘resits’, whilst my friends started their medical careers.




No sooner had I opened the door when my best friend John shouted ‘You’ve passed, Peter; you’ve passed. So has Jane and, amazingly, so have I!’
Jane was the girl I intended to marry!
Inevitably I had to confirm the news for myself so, scarcely believing it could be true, I pushed my way through the noisy, excited, milling crowd. Sure enough, both our names were there in black and white on the official list of successful candidates below the University Crest.
‘Doc…

Post 26 Is 'Having Sex' the same as 'Making Love'?

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This was the first tutorial that Paul had ever given but as he introduced himself to the group, he had no idea that it would end with such comedy and confusion.  


Without exception, the students were intelligent; had they not been bright they wouldn’t have been admitted to medical school.  However, they differed greatly in their ability to communicate with patients. An essential task for their teachers was to observe the interaction between student and patient and to guide and advise as necessary.

Paul gathered the students round the bed of a rather deaf octogenarian who hailed from Pontefract in Yorkshire.On this occasion it was Sunil Solanki’s turn to demonstrate what the consultant had taught the students the previous week. Sunil had been nick named ‘Sunny’ because of his cheerful disposition and ready smile.
“Now, Sunny,” Paul began, “Mr Howell has a problem with his bowels.  I would like you to ask him to describe his symptoms.”
He turned to the other students. “The rest of you sh…

Post 25 Christmas Eve in the Hospital Fifty Years Ago

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Hospital life has changed enormously over the last 50 years, no more so than in the way that Christmas is celebrated.In those days a unique seasonal atmosphere developed during Christmas week and for those of us who were fortunate enough to be resident at that time, celebrating Christmas in hospital was a memorable experience.

Four or five days before the big day, the porters erected a Christmas tree in the centre of the ward.Each ward had its own box of decorations and it often fell to the night staff to decorate the tree, usually, in the early hours of the morning when the ward was quiet. Many patients assisted by making paper chains and lanterns, or by designing a crib which was placed in the centre of the ward – an excellent form of occupational therapy!
Invariably the fairy lights, perhaps put away in a rush the previous year, declined to work and this was a busy time for the hospital electricians. Matron awarded a prize to the ward with the most attractive decorations. This gener…

Post 24 Taking a patient's clinical history. A tutorial from an expert

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William Wetherall, the hospital's senior surgeon, laid aside the journal he was reading and looked at the clock on the wall of his office.   It was one minute before ten o’clock. He smiled, he had a surprise planned for the new group of  students who were waiting for him on the ward.
He eased himself from his chair, stretched his back, then set off down the corridor.  

He vowed, as he always did on these occasions, not only to teach them to be good doctors but to impart to them the common sense and good manners he felt should be the hallmark of all who practised in the caring professions.
“Good morning,” he said, as he entered the room.

The students stood and reciprocated the greeting.
“Now let’s start at the very beginning,”  William said, having learned the names of the students.   “Being a doctor is like being a detective.   A crime is solved by interrogating suspects, by examining the crime scene looking for evidence and, if necessary, by undertaking some forensic tests.   
To ma…