Pap smears and tears

The staff in the gynaecology outpatients clinics were very welcoming. After a quick tour of the the department, I met with the consultant who I would be working with. He had trained in Egypt before moving to Australia to complete his specialty training in obstetrics and gynaecology. Now, he specialises in purely gynaecology with a special interest in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

Due to the nature of which the patients presented, the doctor said it would be best if I observed the history taking rather than do it myself. Having said that, he let me get some hands on experience!

All the patients were keen for me as a student to gain as much as I could whilst I was here for the learning experience. With their consent, I was able to practice inserting the speculum and visualise the cervix. Under the watchful eye of the consultant, I was also able to take numerous swabs and smear tests. After which point the consultant would take over to douse the cervix with acetic acid to check for any changes.

The second part of the title of this post comes from a particular patient. Unfortunately, the consultant found changes in her cervix which he was not pleased with. When the doctor asked if he could take some biopsies, she broke down into tears. Once she was able to gather her thoughts, she was able to explain how she felt like everything in her life seems to be going wrong, of which I will not go into detail just to respect what she told us.

This experience made me realise just how much you can affect a woman's life with this specialty. It is not all 'ooh I bring babies into the world for a living'; but there are the dark sides of potentially telling someone that painful investigations that they have had to endure have come back with unpromising results.

I am definitely leaning more towards the obstetrics side of the specialty. I mean who wouldn't when you have the opportunity to bring new life into the world and take care of a woman as she goes through a major milestone in her life.


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