It is a year since I applied to join the CARER programme, and as you can probably tell from my other blog posts I am incredibly glad that I did apply! It is now time for the next cohort of students to apply and so I thought that it would be useful for me to give a bit of an insight as to what the CARER programme involves.
I spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the GP surgery. I arrive at 9am, say good morning to the reception staff and usually have a cup of tea whilst I double check what I am doing for the day.
My days are split into morning sessions, which run from 9am until around 12pm, and afternoon sessions which usually run from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. I spend most sessions with the GPs. There are 4 GPs at my surgery, and I have different sessions with all of them which is useful as I have the chance to see different consulting styles, and to receive different types of teaching.
In these sessions I sometimes simply observe the GPs, and ask them questions between each patients. Recently I have been doing a combination of observing and doing some histories and examinations myself with the GP watching me, which is very useful and definitely improves my history taking skills!
I also have the opportunity 2-3 times per week to see some patients on my own. This is usually in the late morning, at 11 and 11:30 am slots, or in the afternoon in the 2:30 and 3pm slots. I have 20 minutes to take a history from the patient and do any examinations I need to. I then find whichever GP is supervising me and present the patient to them. We discuss potential diagnoses and management options, and then the GP comes with me to see the patient and double check what I have found and prescribe any drugs or do any referrals which are necessary.
As well as sessions with the GPs, I also usually have 1 session per week with one of the practice nurses. This is really useful as I get the chance to practice my clinical skills, such as taking blood, doing ECGs and giving injections. Moreover I get to observe asthma, diabetes and COPD reviews which are helpful as they allows me to gain a better understanding of the management of these common conditions.
Every week on Tuesday afternoon I have a one hour tutorial with one of the GPs, where we discuss a patient who I have seen that week. We generally discuss potential diagnoses and the management of that patient. I find these tutorials very useful!
Sometimes I have the chance to follow up patients and visit the hospital. For example last week I attended an outpatient clinic with the specialist liver nurse. I stayed for the whole clinic and got to see various patients, including the patient I had seen a the GP surgery. My GP also occasionally organises me short placements with other hospital doctors she knows, which are very interesting!
Thursdays are the days which we have lectures or tutorials. We have Panopto recordings of the lectures which are given in Cardiff, and are given a list of the ones we are supposed to look through each week. Initially we were going to watch them all together up in Bangor University, however together we decided that we would rather watch them individually, so I usually spend my day at the Library going over them. Our tutorials are given either by our main lecturer Dr. Ffion Williams or by lecturers who come up to Bangor specifically for us.
For the past couple of months we have had Fridays as another day of lectures and tutorials, however now we have all started our SSCs (student selected components), and so Fridays are for us to work on our projects.
I hope that this post will be helpful for any students who are considering applying to CARER for next year. It is important to realise that this is simply my perspective on the CARER programme, and that other students have different experiences in their different GPs.
Overall I am really enjoying my year, and I would recommend the CARER programme to anyone! If anyone has any other questions please feel free to comment below, or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.