This past week I was privileged to spend a day at an incredibly rural hospital in the Old Transkei, South Africa, where I hope to complete a rural Family Medicine rotation early next year. I have heard a lot about this groundbreaking hospital and even wanted to do an elective there, but they are so popular that I could not get a space there before.
The following phone call happened to one of the doctors at the acute admissions ward at the hospital where I am currently doing my fourth year elective:
REFERRING DOCTOR FROM RURAL CLINIC: I have a ten-year-old patient with meningism to refer.
DOCTOR: Alright, can you tell me more?
REFERRING DOCTOR: The patient has meningism and is acutely ill. She also has a reduced level of consciousness.
DOCTOR: What is the patient’s GCS?
REFERRING DOCTOR: (long pause with the sound of pages being turned) No… unfortunately the GCS is out of stock.
So, here is a little secret about my horrible little third year surgery experience: I never got to assist. I never got to cut. I never got to stitch. I think it was a combination of me having a poor attitude, me being too scared to ask, and the registrar being an arse.
BUT my time in the rural Western Cape – with a superb supervising doctor – had me practising sutures and assisting in surgeries – it was awesome!