Feel the fear #WILTW

This is the 169th #WILTW

Luke has just started a new job in the Emergency Department. As a foundation trainee he is at the beginning of his medical career. Enthusiastic and conscientious at medical school, he’d spent 5 years excitedly waiting for the moment he’d be able to call himself a doctor. His training in lectures, workshops, simulations and on the wards has prepared him to manage a variety of presentations and conditions. This morning he’d woken up with a spring in his step, inwardly chuffed that he’d be able to relate the same stories he’d seen on ‘24 hours in A&E‘. He picks up the notes for the next patient. It’s a screaming four-year-old, with an arm the triage nurse has described as ‘bendy’.

The colour drains from his face…. 

Alice is a four-year-old girl. She’d been playing in the local park and was very chuffed with herself that she’d scrambled up all the steps on the boat-shaped climbing frame. Mummy didn’t normally let her do this but she’d been talking with Sasha’s mummy and wasn’t watching. Alice thought it would be fun to try and swing around in a big circle on one of the metal poles (like she’d seen her older brother do). She slipped and fell onto the hard ground below.

Her arm hurt a lot. Mummy was very upset which worried Alice as she’d never see her like this before. Lots of people had come running over. She’d been carried into a car. Her arm still really hurt. They’d gone to a strange building where there were lots of other children. A person dressed in blue had looked at her arm and given her a funny look. Alice didn’t like that. She’d been taken into a little room with bright lights. Mummy was on the phone and still crying. Alice’s arm hurt a lot. She could hear lots of other children crying.

Alice started crying too. 

Who is the more scared? Alice or Luke? 

The first week of August is a scary time for our new doctors. Despite what the media might say it’s not a dangerous time for patients and shouldn’t be a frightening one. But there is often a sense of trepidation in those joining departments for the first time about what they might experience.

This fear is good. It keeps you alert and insightful. It will stop you making mistakes. But it must be acknowledged. For a child who is scared, experiencing your fear as well is not helpful!

Be cognisant of how you appear. Remember children have a different view of the world (click here if video doesn’t play).

Concentrate on the parents at first to begin with if that helps. As calm as they are is as calm as the child will be.

But above all remember the child or young person, adolescents get frightened too, will likely be more scared than you.

Take a deep breath – feel your fear – so you can deal with your patients’ fear.

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

Related #WILTW: A parents view of the world is also knee high

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