'I felt a growing desire to contribute however I could'
Year 4 Student Doctor Daniel Duffy is volunteering as a Medical Student Technician to help the NHS during the pandemic. We caught up with him about how he's getting on.
Why have you chosen to volunteer at the NHS during the pandemic?
"I believe it was due to a mixture of wanting to help and the desire to relieve the monotony of everyday life in lockdown. A lot of people have been asked to do, and to give up, so much at great personal cost and without much choice. They have done this without thinking twice about it.
From Year 5's becoming Sub-FY1s, to retirees returning to work, I felt a growing desire to contribute however I could.
While I certainly don’t feel ready to take on the role and responsibilities of a doctor just yet, I jumped at the chance to get out of the house and help in any way possible."
Have you started in a hospital, and if so, what has it been like so far?
"I’ve only been working in an Emergency Department a couple of days a week for the last month but it has been quite enjoyable in some ways. There aren’t as many people presenting to ED, so I’ve still been getting the odd bit of teaching and practical experience.
The hospital environment as a whole has changed drastically; patients seem more apprehensive about coming in, conversations are more difficult because everyone’s wearing a mask and, on a personal level, I’m seen as more of a team member than a passive observer.
One thing that hasn’t changed however is the prevailing sense of teamwork and pride everyone takes in their roles, as well as the sense of compassion shared for all of the patients."
What skills do you think that you will gain from this experience?
"My donning and doffing of PPE has definitely improved but aside from that, I am receiving many opportunities to practise the basics of healthcare so that in the future, I won’t be as anxious when I’m asked, 'Two nurses have tried to get blood from this patient but couldn’t, so can you have a go?'.
As well as this, now that I am in hospital to provide a service rather than to learn to be a doctor, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the complexities of the jobs undertaken by non-medical staff."
Have you met any particularly inspirational doctors, nurses or extended medical staff?
"I am relatively new to my role, so I haven’t experienced any particular inspirational individuals at work but what I have found is a real appreciation for how all the staff are handling the current climate. Staff don’t complain about Coronavirus, they complain about the awkwardness of PPE.
No one complains about the government restrictions, they joke about how easy parking is. It is this sense of levity that I admire most, along with how the patients are still put first, and at times, even above personal wellbeing of the staff."
Do you have a message that you would like to share with your new co-workers at the NHS?
"I’d say the best thing is to embrace the experience; it’s hopefully the only time we’ll see anything like it in our professional lives but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some enjoyment to be gained from working in a team, complaining about sweating in a face mask and getting the occasional free tea or coffee.
The only other thing I would say is to do whatever you can to be helpful. On my first shift, I spent two hours putting up posters in a side room that was being converted to a consultation room. It wasn’t the most fun, but I was still happy to help even in a very small way."
Are you one of our student doctors, currently volunteering for the NHS? We'd love to hear more how you're getting on. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be featured in one of our next Hospital Heroes stories! Thank you for all that you are doing.