Monday, 14 December 2015

Summer Vac students visit the Alfred's ICU

Alice Mizrahi is our guest blogger this week and has recapped the recent visit by students in the Summer Vacation Scholarship Program to the Alfred Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and the Trauma Department to learn more about critical care. Alice has just completed her second year in the Bachelor of Medicine and is one of 20 students taking part in SPHPM’s Summer Vacation Scholarship Program.

Last week the 20 enthusiastic medicine, biomedical sciences and health sciences students involved in this year’s SPHPM Summer Vacation Program made their way to the quiet intensive care waiting room at the Alfred Hospital. We met Tony Trapani, our tour guide for the morning’s visit to the Intensive Care Unit and the Trauma Department in the hospital.

The tour started with a visit to the hyperbaric chambers before moving on to the Trauma Department, where we were only slightly disappointed to notice a conspicuous lack of doctors and nurses rushing around yelling commands like, “get the neurosurgeon in here, stat”.

While it may have been a relatively quiet morning for the Trauma Department, Tony told us that as one of two designated adult trauma centres in Victoria, it can get incredibly busy for the staff, with thousands of patients passing through the doors every year, many of which require the highest level of care.

Not wanting to get in the way, we moved quickly upstairs to the infamous helipad which was, sadly, vacant. One of the more popular stops on our tour, we stopped for quite a while as students took photos, perhaps hoping a well-timed helicopter would come in to land just on the other side of the glass doors.
From there we went on to the main event: the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We were shown around all three of the ICU areas, deliberately designed to be spacious and full of natural light. It was really interesting to learn about the rationale behind the design of the space, and it was amazing to see how much effort and how many resources had been put into transforming it into as pleasant a space for patients as it could possibly be.

Finally, we all settled into a small lecture theatre to learn more about a novel treatment being offered at the Alfred – ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). We heard from a nurse with extensive experience in the area and learned that the Alfred is one of the leading centres in Australasia offering it and contributing to the knowledge regarding its use.

All in all we walked away with a newfound appreciation of some of the work the Alfred is doing in the area of critical care, and we were all grateful that the Summer Vacation Program has made such an effort to give us the opportunity to see and learn about some of the other areas of the hospital. Tony was a wonderful and entertaining tour guide, and we all really appreciated that he took time out of his busy day to show us around and answer our slew of questions. By the end of that morning almost every student wanted to work in intensive care or trauma. 

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