thinking about dying
I have two days off after a weekend on call with a steep learning curve, so my brain does need that break.
Just writing some reflections and portfolio sign offs now and thinking
It was pretty fitting that one of my first big learning events was recognising when people were actively dying. That was something I was afraid of, starting off – knowing what was reversibly unwell and what wasn't, and with all the things around that: discussing when people might not survive resuscitation; when to make the call to involve palliative care.
Being in Frailty has helped with making these conversations much more common, and led by seniors used to making these decisions compassionately and sensibly.
Listening to the palliative care team was an education. Listening to how they navigated difficult conversations and family dynamics helped show a way that was calm and clear about uncertainty. In medical school, palliative care teaching was often about generic “breaking bad news” and prescribing. Let's be frank, most of my “palliative care revision for finals” was 80% prescribing, 20% “soft skills”. Learning about palliative care in FY1 has been 20% prescribing, 80% communication skills and styles of patient assessment.... like most other clinical specialties, really!
I have no answers. Coming alongside people and talking about this with them is becoming a bit easier with practice, especially when I know it can be done with compassion and gentleness.