Healthcare Science Easter School – De Montfort University (April 2018)

Whist at DMU I took part in the Healthcare Science School which covered aspects such as; Nursing and Midwifery, the Allied Health Sciences (Biomedical Science), Applied Social Sciences (Psychology) and Pharmacy. The course spanned over four days and every day covered an individual topic.

On the first day, we had an introduction to the course we would be following, as well as being introduced to our virtual reality patient; an 18-year-old Asian girl who was admitted to hospital via the Emergency Department (ED). After being introduced to the scenario we talked about all the different roles within the Healthcare system and wrote down as many as we could. Then we discussed all the individuals our patient may be introduced to whilst at hospital and what those professionals would do to help her in this situation.

Wednesday’s focus was on the role of the nurse (mainly the triage nurse) as well as the role of the midwife. As a group we discussed what they could do for our virtual reality patient and how important their role would be within the situation and other situations too. I learnt that the triage nurse is usually the first healthcare professional you meet when in the Emergency Department and their job is to assess the seriousness of your case and other peoples. During this session we found out that our patient had lied about her age and was severely underweight for a 15-year-old. Furthermore, we also discovered that the girl had fractured her wrist from a fall of low velocity, which sent signals for malnourishment. After lunch we took on the role of a Biomedical Scientist, their role can vary, they mainly work in a lab and analyse samples of blood, urine and skin (for example) that are sent to the lab by doctors working with a patient. We all had to analyse three urine samples; a person with no health complications, a diabetics urine sample and our patient’s urine sample. From these tests we detected high ketone levels in our patient’s urine sample and this shows that she was using fat as opposed to glucose for energy, this can then lead to a complicated form of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis. Another test we did was to see if our patient was a carrier or had sickle cell disease, a disease which effects that shape of haemoglobin and the amount of oxygen that person can carry per red blood cell. This test came out positive and showed us that our patient was a carrier of sickle cell disease. We also tested our patient’s prothrombin time (PT), a test that shows how long it takes a blood clot to form. From this we discovered the patient had a prolonged clotting time (the expected PT time is 10-14 seconds) which can lead to excessive bleeding.

Thursday was my favourite day as we looked at psychology, I enjoyed this the most because this is the field of Healthcare Science I want to study and hopefully get a career in. This subject had four activities for us to complete, the first one showed us how to step back and assess a situation without judging a person. We did this by looking at an extract from our patient’s diary, from this it gave us the information we needed to assess whether she had bulimia nervosa, to decide whether she had the condition we filled out the Bulimic Investigatory Test, Edinburgh (BITE Test). From this we drew to the conclusion that our patient was extremely bulimic. In the second activity we looked at the dynamics of interracial relationships and how it can affect our patient. One of the reasons the girl might have collapsed could be because, just before a 20-year-old male, of Greek descent shouted abuse at the Asian girl and her white boyfriend. We looked at this and thought that it could be related to dislike of interracial relationships or because the Greek male knew the girl from a previous encounter or possible relationship. After that we found out that the 15-year-old girl was in fact pregnant and that she did know the Greek male and that they were previously together. This made us question whether a criminal offence had been committed as the girl is under the age of consent. In the third activity we had to analyse text messages sent between the Asian girl, her boyfriend and the Greek man. From this we realised that the Greek man had in fact groomed the teenage girl, but she had realised that their relationship was not a healthy one, so tried to break it off. However, he had no intention of doing so, that’s when the boyfriend of the girl told him to back off, but the man suggested that the girl dated both, this suggested that the Greek male likes to be in control and felt uncomfortable when not in control. The fourth and final activity we did in the psychology was put all the information that we found out together and answered a series of questions to do so.

Friday was the final day on university campus, at the end of it we had to perform our presentations to our parents. In the morning we went to learn about the pharmacy side of things, in this we found out that our virtual patient came to the Emergency Department with scratches on her arms that were bleeding, as Healthcare Professionals we consider those scratches to be self-harm. However, it turns out it was in fact it was eczema, a common skin condition which causes irritation to the skin which causes people to itch their skin. Our role as pharmacists was to produce a cream that would soothe the irritation of our patient’s skin. For this we used: emulsifying wax, white soft paraffin, liquid paraffin, phenoxyethanol and purified water. We used a steam bath to melt the products and stirred them until they cooled which then formed the cream, once it had formed we could add scents to make it more acceptable as a cosmetic cream.

Overall, the experience was amazing, and I would recommend applying if you are interested in Healthcare Science and are considering a future career in that department. The ambassadors that helped us; Emma, Nabeelah, Amina and Callum were amazing at guiding us through activities, lectures and most importantly the university campus itself. If anything, the ambassadors and all the staff that lead us in our course have encouraged me even more to carry on and pursue my dream to getting a career in the Healthcare sector.

Caitlin CA

April 2018