Human babies weren’t the only babies I got up close and personal with!
After starting medical school, I developed a keen interest in paediatric medicine. I really wanted to get some more experience in a neonatal health setting, as I spent a day in the neonatal unit in Edinburgh and loved helping to care for the babies. I was really impressed by the child-focussed care provided at UC Davis hospital in California, and so organised to spend a week of my summer holiday here, then to spend a month exploring the other sights California had to offer.
The pre-travel preparation was probably the scariest bit of the process – there was a lot of paperwork to complete and I was really nervous that I would mess it up and not be allowed to complete my work placement. Alongside all the paperwork, there was a host of other practicalities to sort – travel insurance, accommodation and all my exciting travel plans! Even though the staff at UC Davis who I had been in contact with were all very accommodating and friendly, I was worried that I would be in the way during my time there. I was also a little nervous about being so far from home on my own (apart from my trusted flatmate who accompanies me almost everywhere), and was unsure what I would do if I did not enjoy my placement or my travels.
Completing my childhood dream of visiting Disneyland
However, I needn’t have worried! The staff at UC Davis were all incredibly friendly and I felt instantly welcomed – the fact that they were so accommodating really showed me how easy it can be to create opportunities for yourself – if you don’t ask, you won’t get! Spending time in their hospital demonstrated the differences in healthcare between here and the USA, and really made me appreciate the healthcare system we all enjoy here! I feel this understanding will be beneficial when it comes to doing my final year elective, and later in my career. Spending time with the Child Life and Health Specialist also reminded me the importance of treating paediatric patients as children, and ensuring they receive individualised care and attention while in hospital. It reminded me that being in hospital doesn’t have to be boring, and gave me some great craft ideas to use at home in my Rainbows groups.
I also learnt a lot simply from travelling on my own. Having to problem-solve when transport was late or accommodation fell through taught me a lot about thinking on my feet and staying calm under pressure. I underestimated how independent I could be, and the whole experience boosted my confidence massively. I now feel excited, rather than nervous, about new opportunities and experiences and hope to continue to use this positive mindset when faced with challenges throughout this year!
Yosemite National Park
The Grand Canyon