I justified a recent spa break by incorporating a trip to the Scottish Medical Training Careers Fair and doing my bit for anaesthetic recruitment.
Now in its second year, this exhibition aims to showcase medical training and its availability in Scotland to inform decision making early in the careers of foundation doctors, medical students and school leavers.
It provides a chance for individuals to approach stands representing a range of Royal Colleges, Specialty Training Boards and Health Boards to talk to real people, who have walked the walk, and can give their first hand advice (and opinions) about their specialty.
In true anaesthetic style we were there early, before it started to set up our stand, display our wares and deploy our personnel to various roles. Next I set off around the hall to appraise others’ stands.
This left me both reassured by some and suffering from ‘stand envy’ at others: the surgeons had a truly impressive anatomical artist painting cadaveric, dissected images of the facial nerve, the abdominal wall and the muscles of the thigh. (A very nice rugby player they had showcasing that.) The resulting images were amazing. Walking wounded indeed.
The common appeal of free stuff never leaves us and I looked with interest at what was on offer. I noted stress balls at the psychiatry stand, pens in the form of a blood filled syringe from another and squishy friendly looking theatre nurse dolls at Paediatrics.
We rose above such bribery and tempted visitors with an opportunity to scan their neck, take blood from an arm (part task trainer), and offered a prize for those who could name the mystery item. (A lone epidural catheter; being worried it would get wrecked, I had left the lumbar spine back at base.)
With irony, I noted that every stand, without exception, had sweets, chocolates or cakes on offer! Why do we do that?
Us medics who are up in arms about the obesity epidemic and childhood diabetes plied our potential replacements with the deadly, addictive white powder and no sign of Jamie Oliver to protect them (although the Dean captured it all on camera, no doubt to share with us for our appraisal folders.)
Also during the day a series of seminars ran in an adjacent hall. Delegates booked themselves into those in which they were interested. They were good: low brow, light hearted yet informative.
Before I gave the anaesthesia run down, I listened to the preceding talk and was almost convinced of their mantra that ‘being a GP was the best job in the world’.
I enjoyed speaking to the (potentially) converted and dispelled many myths perpetuated about anaesthesia: it’s not boring, we look as if we’re doing nothing only to the uninitiated, and confirmed that anaesthesia is, as it appears, awfully simple or simply awful.
I pointed out the positives we take for granted: spilling lunch on your theatre blues is fixed by simply changing into another pair, and the benefits of wearing a hat on bad hair days and middle of the night call outs.
As the crowds abated we turned to packing up the stall. As in hospital life, those in charge were no longer visible, no one noticed the physicians had sloped off early, and only the junior surgeons were left to tidy up there.
We anaesthetists were there until the bitter end. A paragon of team working, we made sure that no mannikin was left behind.