Reflections on an LIC in Lochaber

Lewis Mundell, student of Dundee University, recently completed a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship in Fort William as part of his medical school training.  This article featured in Lochaber Life Magazine earlier this month.  It has been reproduced here with the kind permission of Iain Ferguson of the Write Image (picture credits to Iain too).

Training to be a Doctor in Lochaber

Lewis Mundell, LIC Student

I have spent almost a year in the Lochaber community, training as part of a project undertaken in partnership between the University of Dundee and Tweeddale Medical Practice. This is a trial project and a first in the UK. The purpose: to improve the teaching of medical students.

Other Medical Students in Dundee mainly spend their time in hospital in the form of four-week placements in different medical wards. The project I have been doing under the supervision and guidance of Dr Jim Douglas is focused on learning in the community where 90% of healthcare takes place. A focus is spent on patients, to learn from them rather than tutorials or textbooks.

Although the majority of my time has been spent in Tweeddale, 40% of my time has been spent in Raigmore and the Belford Hospital as well as working with Physiotherapists, District Nurses and Pharmacists. By being in the community, I have gained a better perspective of health care, understanding the challenges patients face when the GP simply says ‘visit the Physiotherapist’.

The most unique part of this year has been the ‘Patient Journey’. This has allowed me to follow people through their health care experience from ‘cradle to grave’. I have followed mothers through pregnancy; seen children cope with infections; learned from teens struggling with depression; saw life-saving surgery; watched a patient fight cancer and the hardest part – the privilege of being present at the end of life. Each of these experiences has been humbling and I will never forget the people involved.

Many medical ‘experts’ have said ‘how can a student learn everything he needs to know without being trained in a city, in a ‘centre of excellence’? I would argue that a community like Lochaber is a centre of excellence as it is a centre of people, all actively engaged in training a medical student. In comparison to cities, where community is reduced, Lochaber can recognise its own need for doctors and other health care professionals and therefore its need to train these professionals locally.

Once again I would like to thank you all for allowing me to join your community. I have learned so much! I will definitely consider returning to this area for future training and possibly long-term employment when I’m qualified. It is impossible to list the many people who have helped me, but a special thanks goes to Dr Jim Douglas and all the staff at Tweeddale, Dr Amy Macaskill and the CMHT, Theresa Mackay and the Midwifery Team, Belford Staff, Jaquai Parfitt, Staff at Raigmore, Fleming & Fleming, Lloyds Pharmacy, Macmillan Cancer team and not least the Scottish Ambulance Service.

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