The elective that I chose was specifically in Anaesthetics, at Bega. Having an Australian based elective was an advantage as the equipment, drugs and protocols we used in NSW were also mostly the same used in Canberra. This allowed me to seamlessly apply what I learnt in SERH to the Anaesthetics rotation at TCH.
Since the ANU didn’t have student accommodation available for non-rural students, I stayed at the Bega Caravan Park which was about a 10-minute drive to the hospital. Bega was an amazing place to stay in, with great views and only 15 mins away from the nearest beach, something the supervisors encouraged me to explore during the term.
In terms of the medical side of the elective, doing anaesthetics at SERH was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had during medical training. My supervisor at the time, Dr Oates, is very passionate about both the profession itself and also teaching. It was a very hands-on elective.
The first few days were spent getting to know the ventilatory machines, the drugs, and the theatre rooms themselves. Before long, I was doing airway manoeuvres, bag-masking, LMAs, several intubations and RSI. I was allocated to several different anaesthetists during my elective, and they were all happy to teach and let me have a go. It was especially useful practicing the jaw thrust and understanding how to do it well, given its such an important and simple skill. It soon became clear that practicing on a manikin was very different to doing the jaw thrust on a real person. The ultrasound assisted nerve blocks and epidurals were also especially interesting and useful to understand when merging pharmacology with neuroanatomy.
Although the term was mainly focused on anaesthetics, I was also able to delve into other areas of the hospital. SERH is great at letting students learn as much as they can, and so I spent some time in the ICU, ED and scrubbed in to several operations. Some of these included joint replacements, ectopic pregnancy cases, caesareans, etc. The term became even more hands on towards the end and there was great follow through with the patient experience. Generally, a case would start with meeting the patient pre-op in the anaesthetic bay, doing an anaesthetic assessment, cannulating them, bringing them into theatre and then intubating/LMA. Once the patient was safely anaesthetised, there would be the opportunity to scrub in for the operation or I could sit with the anaesthetist who would run a quick tutorial on any topic applicable to anaesthetics or critical care. The tutorials on pain management were especially useful, as well as the refresher on physiology.
Overall, the anaesthetics elective at Bega was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for an amazing hands-on experience.