Friday, 24 April 2015

Sexual Health

I am very pleased to say that I am feeling much less stressed than I was when I wrote my last post!

The sun has come out, and Greenwich is looking absolutely beautiful with all the blossom trees blooming. I was at a wedding last weekend which was so much fun, and my student loan is finally in- it feels good to no longer be a pauper.

I am currently on my Sexual Health placement which I am LOVING. It is unbelievably interesting. I have been working with the nurses and doctors in a sexual health clinic. The team are all so friendly and they’ve taught me so much (and they give me cake which is always a bonus). I’ve witnessed check-ups, STI screens, counselling and treatment. I’m sure that this isn’t for everyone, but I love being in the lab looking at the specimens under a microscope! I now know how to find candida albicans (thrush) from a sample- lovely!

What I have found the most challenging is sitting in with the nurse as they take a history- especially with the men as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s all a bit awkward. We have to ask some really, really personal questions so I’ve found myself trying my hardest not to blush! In order to witness these appointments I do need the patients’ permission first, which I was worried about as I thought no one would want me looking at their bits! But I found that as long as I introduced myself and struck up conversation quickly they didn’t have a problem. It’s important to let them know that all information they disclose is confidential and that we aren’t judging. A few of the men have questioned why me, a student midwife, is there. I try to make a joke out of it and explain that I need an understanding of both sides- as they are involved in the baby making too!

My week hasn’t all been light-hearted banter and precautionary check-ups. I had a really interesting discussion with a clinical psychologist, who cares for people with HIV. It made me realise how far we have advanced in medicine in recent years. Years ago, HIV was seen as a death sentence; however now, for many people diagnosed, their condition is managed with medication. The psycho-social aspects of contracting HIV are so complex, and the psychologist kindly took me through how she breaks ‘the news’ to those with a positive result, and the various care pathways and services that are then offered.

I am surprised at how hands on this placement was for me- where I thought it would be mainly observational, I have still been given the chance to develop my skills in venepuncture and speculum examinations which is great!

This week has been so enjoyable that I am seriously considering specialising in sexual health after I qualify. The university offers a post-graduate certificate in sexual health, so watch this space! 

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