Encounters with Medical Students Can Be Upsetting

Encounters with Medical Students Can Be Upsetting

My hospital also is a university full of medical students. Trainees follow their supervisors from patient to patient to get a sense of how their work applies to real-life situations. Nine times out of 10, I love interacting with students. I love to discover the person behind the uniform, and I am always interested in learning about their motivations. 

Occasionally, however, my encounters with medical students are unpleasant.

For example, last November, an encounter with a trainee nurse deeply upset me. I was preparing for my monthly red cell exchange. The nurse’s supervisor let her find a vein and insert the needles. Unfortunately, she made a mistake and missed the vein. Her supervisor had to complete another painful injection.

I left with another scar on my arm, which may seem insignificant. However, my scars do not have time to heal and fade because of the frequency of the procedure. The buildup of scar tissue makes me feel self-conscious. I scar so easily. Her mistake honestly bought tears to my eyes. 

I explained how I felt to one of my friends. He reminded me that nurses must practice and get it right for the next person. I still felt down, but I got over it eventually.

I write this column mid-transfusion with similar feelings of anger and frustration. The same thing happened with the same nurse. Fair enough, she needs to learn, but I don’t intend to let her practice on me again. If I can avoid the feelings associated with her mistakes, I will. Next time, I will request that her supervisor prepare me for the transfusion. 

It is hard. The nurse is a lovely person. But the consequences I must face are long-lasting, so I have decided to put my feelings first.

Do you mind when medical students practice on you? I would love to know whether you have had similar experiences. What would you do in this situation? Let me know in the comments below.


Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.

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