The life of a third-year cardiac physiology student

Kathryn

Faculty: Medical Science
Course: BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science
Category: Allied and public health

4 October 2017

I’m four weeks into my final year at university and it’s exciting yet terrifying at the same time (and that’s not just because am seeing an increasing number of emergency cases).

Female student in hospital uniform

Third year brings new invasive skills to get used to, such as cardiac catheterisation and bradycardia pacing – but it also gets you to advance old skills, like 24-hour tape analysis and exercise stress testing.

I’ll admit, I’m still getting my head around pressure measurements and ECG monitoring in relation to what is going on during procedures but it’ll come eventually, so don’t try and become an expert in three weeks, you need time.

I’m slightly excited but nervous (and very curious) about the emergency side of third year with the primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) service. The thrill of a complex case keeps you on your toes, wondering when the major ECG changes will strike (will your patient go into a shockable rhythm?) and when it does, it can be scary. My best piece of advice was given by a chief physiologist, who told me that it is okay to feel shocked and upset about a cardiac arrest, even the most senior people will from time to time. The first incident may leave you shaking all over and wondering whether you’re in an arrhythmia yourself, but it gets better and better each time you’re involved. You’ll get used to the format of an arrest and the kind of things that need to be considered. It will be okay.

Serious things aside, it is nice to have a change of scenery, a change of uniform (SCRUBS!) and a change of working pattern (you’ll appreciate your day off so much) and I’m looking forward to what is to come! My three-week instalment of cardiac pacing awaits!

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