5 uniquely British medical practices

I’ll be blunt and admit that I don’t really have a lot of exciting things to tell from the hospital after my placements. I think my placement in medical emergency is a tough one to beat. However recently, I’ve been remembering all these medical practices that was everyday for me in the UK, which now actually seems completely alien to me. I’m converting. There’s a lot that comes to mind, but for starters, here’s a list of five uniquely British medical practices.

1. Clinical wear is basically formal wear

For doctors, clinical wear entails shirt/trousers (NOT JEANS) for men and shirt/blouse/skirt/trousers (again NOT JEANS) for women. Nice flat dress shoes for both genders. Yes, this practice is extremely questionable hygiene-wise, as you come to work with the same clothes you will be wearing the whole day at the hospital, but there is some reasoning behind this.

The medical practice in the UK wanted to take a step away from the hierarchical system by abolishing the white coat and scrubs for doctors. There shouldn’t be anything to distinguish a doctor from a patient appearance-wise, as in the end they’re both people. This is so that there will be no “us and them” mentality between the doctors and the patients, and hopefully, doctors become more approachable during patient contact. It’s a nice thought I guess, and perhaps the prevalence of “white coat syndrome” has diminished over the years. However hygiene-wise once again, questionable.

homer gif giphy saying why so formal lenny you're my go to guy

2. Only black or white shoes are allowed to be worn in the hospital

The professional clinical look in British standards is to be somewhat uniform. Black or white shoes are to be worn as they are more professional. No bright colourful sneakers were allowed. However, I was always jealous of my sister and the bright colourful sneakers she wore around the hospitals in Sweden. So I never listened and decided to rebel and wear my bright orange sneakers. Did I get looks? Yes. Did I get scolded? Sometimes. But boy did I get compliments from patients – “I like your bright orange sneakers, you’re hard to miss in this hospital!” At least I was remembered for my fashion sense.

https://www.instagram.com/p/wGVkIBIN7O/?taken-by=fileea

3. Some doctors wear bow ties or tucked-in ties

As an attempt to improve hospital hygiene, it was implemented that anything hanging around one’s neck is not allowed to be worn in the hospital. Including neck ties. This angered many doctors, as they viewed it to be a crucial part of their professional clinical wear. Therefore they came up with a compromise. Some switched to wearing bow ties, whereas others decided to keep wearing neck ties but started tucking the end of their neck ties inside their shirt. Works I guess.

bow tie from sing movie

4. British hospitals only use black pens

If you look around a British hospital, you will only find black pens and no other colour. I recall being scolded when in the hospital once for taking notes with a blue pen. They told me – how would colour blind people be able to read what I’m writing? I assured them that the notes were only for me to see, and afterwards I had to promise to never use my blue pen again. Since that day, I only brought black pens to the hospital. Yes, it is a rule in British hospitals that you are only allowed to use black pens so that everyone can read what you write, including those who are colour blind.

blue colour blind pen screaming gif giphy

5. You address surgeons as Mr/Mrs/Ms and DEFINITELY not Dr.

“Dr. McCloy… Oh sorry, I mean Mr. McCloy!”

I bet it’s probably only in the UK where some doctors would take offense if you call them Dr. Why you might wonder, which is a pretty good question. As told perfectly in this article, during the origins of surgery around the 18th century, surgeons back then did not possess any formal qualifications let alone a medical degree to be able to hold the title Dr. They were sometimes compared to butchers, and doctors were definitely more superior. However as times have changed, the status of surgeons have risen and thus have become so proud to distinguish themselves from doctors. Today in British hospitals, being called Mr or Mrs/Ms is a badge of honour and could only mean one thing – and that is that you’re a surgeon.
they call me mr tibbs gif giphy

Nässjö and jogging around the beautiful Rocksjön

Just like yesterday, I had to once again travel to a new city, new hospital in Nässjö. Once again, we were positively surprised at the hospitality of the people at the clinic.

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We were welcomed with an Easter buffet breakfast!

We came at about 9.30am, and was told to go upstairs to the kitchen. As we entered, we were greeted by the kind staff who invited us to the table. Apparently, they had set two plates for us at their Easter table since yesterday, anticipating us. Yup, I don’t think we could’ve felt even more welcome.

During the rest of the day, we were able to see the typical cases you’d see at every skin clinic: eczema, psoriasis, skin cancers etc. The staff there guided us to the rooms every time they knew there was an interesting case for us to see. We were going to end our day with scabies – which I read from our Swedish dermatology book is a typical Scandinavian skin infection – but on examination, it later turned out to be dry skin. I guess that’s both good and bad news. Nevertheless, it was yet another enriching day at dermatology!

When I came home, anticipating all the Easter food I’ll be eating in the next few days at home, I thought it would be a good time to go for a jog. It was pretty sunny too anyway. So I decided to run around the lake right in front of where we live called Rocksjön. I don’t know if I ever have had a more scenic run before because boy was it beautiful.

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If you look to the right I took some random running route to finish a 5k, because I noticed that someone was randomly following me… He luckily stopped running after me at some point. The red-ish spot by John Bauer’s park is where I took the photo below!

I have been extremely fortunate to have been placed at such a beautiful place, with such an amazing group of people. I can’t believe my first week at dermatology here in Jönköping is already about to end by tomorrow, time is going so quickly! I’ll make sure to cherish the time I have left next week. But first, here comes a long Easter weekend back home in Stockholm!

Rocksjön is absolutely stunning, a wharf by the lake

Could one really ask for a better evening jog?

My utomlänsplacering turned me into a local jetsetter

This week I started my first “utomlänsplacering” which means a placement outside the county of my medical school. I’m currently placed on a two-week dermatology placement in Jönköping, Småland.

My friends also placed in Jönköping and I left Sunday evening and arrived at our apartments in the hospital grounds, provided by the hospital. We took our keys from the emergency room (“What was the first think you did in Jönköping? Go to the emergency room of course, ha!” -.-) and went to our temporary accommodation for the next two weeks.

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This is the beginning of the Jönköping hospital grounds, isn’t our apartment building beautiful?

I was worried about how the accommodation would be recalling the nightmare of accommodation we received back in the UK (see photo below), but one can say that I was positively surprised to say the least. THE ACCOMMODATION IS AMAZING!

bathroom at medical student accommodation blackburn hospital preston manchester

This is the accommodation bathroom provided for Manchester medical students based at Blackburn hospital… our accommodation now is definitely a step up #nightmare

Apart from the beautiful exterior, our apartments were MASSIVE! Two separate bedrooms for my roomie and I (it’s probably the biggest room I’ve ever lived in that’s not a hotel), a big hallway, a fully equipped kitchen etc. Free wi-fi, clean linen, pillows and towels to take downstairs, access to the free laundry room, a little library and a TV. At least they definitely thought about our comfort as “travellers.” To make things even better, there’s a full shopping centre right across the road from where we live in the hospital grounds.

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I’ve been to Jönköping once before with my choir but I don’t remember much from the city. Therefore, being a true traveller, I was quite excited to explore this new place.

We came to our first day yesterday at the clinic and was warmly met by the staff. We have never been so warmly met before! We received our little introduction booklets, keys and decided our schedule amongst us. We found out that it is obligatory for us to travel to different cities as a part of our placement, and I was the “unfortunate” one who gets to travel to two different cities two days in a row.

welcome note for us medical students at jönköping ryhov hospital!

Look they even made us a little welcome note posted on the board!

So this morning as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the train which will take me to Värnamo where I will be during the day. The travel there takes 2h, which is basically the same time it took me to go to Jönköping from my medical school Linköping. And it costs 80kr each way (about 8 euros each way – my student wallet is crying). Tomorrow, I will be going to Nässjö, which will luckily take less than 2h to travel to.

Four cities (Linköping, Jönköping, Värnamo, Nässjö) in four consecutive days. I never realised that going to medical school would mean this much travel. I guess we just need to get used to it since in the end, we need to go to where our patients are. And not everyone will be lucky to have all their patients at the same place as oneself. Luckily, I enjoy being a jetsetter anyway.

I really need a driver’s license.