Although the title of my elective “Paediatric Neurology” sounded a little intimidating, the team I worked with were in fact the opposite.
I met my supervisor Dr Heniz Jungbluth on day one in his office across from the hospital. He introduced me to many of the much larger paediatric neurology team, which included a Fellow, Miguel. Miguel was very helpful as a point of contact and we ended up forming a friendship.
Most of my time was spent in speciality clinics with other consultants in Paediatric Neurology. These clinics were usually split with a neuromuscular physiotherapist.
It was great to see both professionals working in a team to conduct the clinics. This also allowed me to experience the physical work up of patients with certain conditions which will be handy for me to hold onto later in my career.
The clinics I attended included specialist vagus nerve stimulator treated epilepsy, general epilepsy, neuromuscular, and general paediatric neurology.
Within these clinics, almost every condition was one I had never seen before. This meant every appointment I was completely engaged in how the child presented, examined, the questions the doctor and physiotherapist asked, and how both professionals interacted with the child and the child’s family.
I found it quite interesting to see the how the mental state of each child would swing from being enveloped in the sick role to being positive about the situation and how they could be their best selves.
I believe this stuck with me as a lesson for myself on how your own mental state can influence your happiness despite what inflictions life throws at you.
Perhaps the most privileged experience I had was being in the consultation when a family was given the diagnosis that their smiling, happy, and energetic three-year-old boy had Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.
I was playing with the boy as his mother sat there in tears and the father sat stunned as the doctor explained the progression of the disease, how it would slowly cripple him and take his life in a few decades time.
I was also given the opportunity to join the inpatient paediatric neurology ward team for just over a week.
During this time, I attending handover, rounds, and multidisciplinary team meetings. The rounds also took me to the paediatric intensive care unit where I saw some of the most acutely sick children.
This inpatient experience was also very new with almost all conditions I had never seen and only heard or read about. Some conditions I didn’t even know existed at all.
One of the junior doctors also asked me to join him for his lumbar puncture list, where I was able to scrub and assist in the taking of cerebrospinal fluid.
Apart from the clinical experience, being based in London was amazing to be able to explore and enjoy what London has to offer.
There was always something on in the evenings (I attending several shows) and with the underground network it was very easy to get around.
Furthermore, flights around Europe are relatively cheap and convenient, which I was able to utilise to my advantage on the weekends.
Overall my elective experience was one that I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget.
The clinical exposure was outstanding and living in London was such a fun adventure.