Through looking at Health and Well Being this term in PSHE and The Human Body in Physical Education and Science I was very fortunate that our units coincided with the visit of my friend Dr Coley from the UK. Dr Coley is on a stopover in Bangkok for a few days on his way to Japan and kindly agreed to come into Samakee to talk about life as a GP in the UK and discussed the training aspects needed in order to have a career as such. There were also opportunities for interactive learning and a question and answer session.
The Samakee PSHE curriculum endeavours to expose our young people to these enrichment opportunities and career talks at an early age when they are impressionable. It is also an important time when they are thinking about their own futures, seeking role models and dreaming of what and who they would like to be in the future.
Below I have added a testimonial that was sent to me from Doctor Coley after his visit.
This is Doctor Coley’s testimonial.
“It was a pleasure to be asked to visit St Andrews Samakee during my brief visit to Thailand. One of the many roles of a doctor is that of education and what better way to do this than in a school. The health service in Thailand is very different from that in the UK and it was interesting for me to learn a little about your system here and also how perceptions of illness vary from continent to continent. By way of some background, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is funded through central taxation and is free at the point of use. We will see people who are, or who think they are ill. General practitioners in primary care are often the first port of call and can instigate suitable treatment (including the prescription of antibiotics) or referral onto our secondary care colleagues in hospital who can see those who need more in-depth investigations or specialist services.
I asked the class about why they might see a doctor. One pupil spoke about visiting a doctor when suffering from a cough. I suggested family members might be a useful first port of call if symptoms were only mild and had only just begun, or we would be inundated with the worried well! We talked about why people might become ill, either through infection or some of the natural processes that affect us as we get older. We also spoke about treatments, and how prevention is often better than cure (eg eating healthily, not doing anything to harm our health like taking up smoking). Using some equipment I had brought from home the pupils got to look at a pulse oximeter (this shows their heart rate and oxygen levels), stethoscope, sphygmomanometer and tendon hammer. I explained how a pulse oximeter can be a useful device for determining if someone has a problem with their respiratory or circulatory system (eg if they had pneumonia). We also looked at some tests for hearing and how we could determine with simple tuning forks whether hearing loss might be attributable to a physical blockage, perhaps from excess ear wax or an ear infection. The aim was to show some examples of diagnosis through simple measurements on the human body.
We talked about the long training regime to become a doctor (5-6 years at university then a further 5+ years in hospital medicine before specialist qualification) and how these years of experience allow us to turn symptoms into a diagnosis and then formulate a treatment plan.
We touched on medical ethics, the Hippocratic Oath, and how we should first do no harm and also the vocational aspect of medicine, which is shared by other professions such as teaching. This led into a discussion on the differences between health care here and back in the UK. By way of one example, antibiotics are readily available here, where in the UK only a doctor can prescribe them. There are also strict criteria on when they might be appropriate. Inappropriate antibiotic usage does not speed recovery, causes side effects (some of which could be life threatening if there is an allergy to the antibiotic) and leads to the growth of resistant organisms which may, in a few years’ time, prove impossible to treat even with the world’s most powerful intravenous antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics is a growing international problem. There was some discussion which suggested people had the perception that medicines could be shared out and taken by those for whom they had not been intended. I warned against ever doing this, indeed against ever taking any form of drug if it was not recommended by a health professional. Some medicines can interact dangerously and could cause unforeseen consequences. I used the example of someone taking a sleeping tablet and then not being able to wake up properly the next day. If the person had to cycle on a busy road and fell asleep whilst riding the consequences wouldn’t bear thinking about.
The pupils were asked to write down ten things they had learnt. It was clear from the responses they had taken in a lot of what we had discussed and I was impressed with this. I had hoped they would come away with a good sense of what we doctors do and when to make use of us, how we trained to become doctors, and, perhaps more importantly, given the children are at the age when they might first start pondering their futures, what inspired us to become doctors in the first place”.
Dr Mark Coley