Students win President’s Prize for reflective presentation

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Student Doctors Benjamin Picker and Antonio de Rosa were unanimously awarded top prize at the Chester & North Wales Medical Society’s 2022 President’s Prize Evening with an open and honest presentation on the importance of debrief and self-reflection in healthcare.

Established in 1883, The Chester & North Wales Medical Society is one of the oldest medical societies in the country. Its 2022 President’s Prize Evening featured Benjamin and Antonio’s presentation, alongside seven other shortlisted cases presented by qualified trainees.

Jan Ellis, Medical Education Manager for Countess of Chester Hospital says, “All of the presentations were of a very high standard. However, the panel of judges were delighted to award first prize to Benjamin and Antonio.

It was deemed that they displayed a degree of reflective practice in advance of their stage of training, and that, to present such a case, and speak openly about the human side of medical training, was indeed commendable.”

The case the students presented on involved an elective c-section, in which the patient had an undiagnosed placenta accreta, causing her to suffer a massive obstetric haemorrhage. Benjamin was scrubbed in for the c-section, while Antonio was called into theatre once the situation worsened.

Benjamin was assisting the surgeon with closing up after the baby was delivered safely when it became apparent that there was a problem. He recalls how the mood changed from one of joy and elation to tension and serious concern.

“It was the first time I have ever experienced anything like that.

Things started to move quickly, and everyone knew something was seriously wrong.

It was a really awful moment and, in all honesty, it was the first time I'd felt scared on placement.”

The baby and father were taken out of the room and the medical team clicked into place, with senior surgeons and anaesthetists brought in. Antonio was asked to run bloods from the blood lab as the patient experienced massive blood loss.

Benjamin says, “It was reassuring and quite amazing how the senior doctors took control of the situation.

It was incredible to see them in action and, though very few words were said, it was clear everyone knew their role.

It really made me appreciate the importance of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT).”

Afterwards, it was important for the students to reflect on the experience and talk through it, with each other first and foremost, and with their peers on the course, whose friendships are so important in both navigating medicine, and helping switch off from it. Support was also available from the medical education team at Chester as well as the School Wellbeing Team.

Director of MBChB Wellbeing Service Alison Threlfall says, "It's always great to hear how the support of the team has helped students who were facing a tough time. All of us face difficulties and it's so important to keep speaking to each other and be kind and supportive. The Wellbeing Team are here to listen and help in any way we can."

Benjamin shares, “This experience has helped me understand what my future role as a doctor will be and how important it is to understand your competence level and learn that it’s ok to feel scared of a completely new situation and that there are people there to listen when everything is not ok.”

Antonio and Benjamin were invited to the ‘cold’ debrief with the entire team to go through the case minute by minute, step by step, which was an opportunity to understand the case from the different perspectives of everyone in the MDT.

“We were thankful to have been included. It was good to understand that even though with experience you will know what to do, you will still feel those raw emotions of fear and responsibility, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Dr Jamie Fanning, Clinical Examination and Procedural Skills Theme Lead, was the anaesthetist involved in the case and helped guide the students through a reflective exercise to process the experience.

Benjamin says, “Dr Fanning suggested we present at the President’s Prize Evening. We submitted an abstract and were shortlisted along with several others. On the night, the presentations were all of a really high standard. It was full of ‘real doctors’ whose presentations went into great detail on the physiology behind the cases. Whereas we focused more on the reflective aspect.”

It was a little scary and intimidating for the students to stand up and share. From the reaction in the room it was clear their presentation had made a big impact, with many doctors approaching them to offer congratulations and discuss similar experiences.

Antonio says, “It was an amazing opportunity to be able to share an interesting case in front of the doctors. In sharing our experience of debriefing after a difficult event in hospital I believe this has prepared me very well to cope with the trials and tribulations of being a doctor in the future."

Benjamin and I are extremely thankful for the amazing support we received at The Countess of Chester Hospital.

Benjamin agrees, “Chester is brilliant. From day one they really chuck you in at the deep end, properly involve you and make you feel part of the team. The prize evening was a great opportunity to reflect on what was a difficult case, as well as develop our reflection and presentation skills. At first, I was reluctant to talk about the situation but having the opportunity to talk through and process the event helped me overcome it, along with the challenges of being a medical student and university life."

It’s always ok to ask for help, it’s important, and completely normal, to talk things through, and there are plenty of people to support you in doing that.

Dr Fanning went along to the prize evening to support Benjamin and Antonio. "From meeting them during this very difficult case, to watching them present at the Prize Evening, it has been great to watch Benjamin and Antonio grow as student doctors.

As well as their clinical learning from this case, their spoken reflection on the evening was both open and very honest, at times moving some of the audience close to tears.

They presented themselves in an utmost professional way and really did the School of Medicine proud.”

Discover more

  • Talking through powerful experiences like Benjamin and Antonio’s is vital in helping you process and learn from them. Reaching out to friends, mentors, Educational Supervisors or the School’s Wellbeing Team (link) can help.
  • Schwartz Rounds also offer a forum to discuss and reflect on the personal aspects of caring for patients. The Rounds running at the University of Liverpool (link) are open to all students on healthcare programmes.