James Bell (winner of the ERAC award for his outstanding presentation and interview) - Emergency Medicine Placement at Doctors Hospital Health System Limited (DHHS), The Bahamas

On the first day of his hospital placement in the Bahamas, James was given a white coat and full responsibility to choose the direction of his placement. He ran bloods to the lab, transferred acutely ill patients to the hospital imaging facilities, took medical histories of patients, performed physical examinations and liaised closely with consultants in order to get as much exposure as possible of emergency care.

‘One of my main aims was to learn how to provide emergency care to patients with gunshot injuries, which unfortunately is a big problem in the Bahamas. Headlines such as “six gunned down in two hours” plagued the newspapers every weekend, and I managed to learn some invaluable first-hand tips and techniques from Bahamian doctors of how to deal with such injuries.’

‘It’s always a thrill working abroad, and I think what I enjoyed most was the sheer variety of cases compared to what I have experienced in Birmingham A&E departments; I’ve never seen a patient with a penetrating injury to the foot from sea urchin spines, or an exotic case of suspected chikungunya fever! Finding out about how healthcare worked in the Bahamas was interesting as well, since I am always looking to expand my knowledge of other healthcare systems to see if any aspects of these foreign models could be applied to help improve the NHS.’

This is knowledge that I will be sure to carry forward with me into the NHS.

‘This placement allowed me to further hone all of the clinical skills that I have been learning in Birmingham over the past two years, e.g. taking patient histories, examining patients and presenting findings back to senior colleagues. I also got the opportunity to develop my practical skills further with blood-taking and IV cannula insertion.’

‘Most of all I learnt about a new culture and experienced the Caribbean way of life... it’s always good to know where people are coming from, what their background is and importantly what their health beliefs are.’

‘As with any highly competitive field, generally the more you have on your CV the better your job prospects. Having additional extra-curricular work experience shows your commitment and provides you with insight into the career, as well as allowing you to really sell yourself at interview. By carrying out this work experience, I have found that I really enjoy acute care.’