Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mental Health Teaching at Fyrish Monument

As part of our GP training we have Day Release groups which meet monthly and are composed of a mixture of trainees from different locations across the North of Scotland and at different stages of training. Since this was our last meeting together as a group before the ST3s fly the nest we decided to spend our morning session climbing up Fyrish Monument, near Alness in Easter Ross. The topic of the day was Mental Health and we tied this in to discuss ways of building resilience and looking after our own mental health.

Fyrish Monument was built in the 18th century by Sir Hector Munro during the time of the Highland Clearances and was built mainly to keep locals in useful work as they were being cleared off their land which they had worked on for centuries before. It was built to resemble the Gate of Negapatam in India, which Sir Hector captured for the British. As you may see from the picture it has great views over the North East coast and was a decent workout in typically sunny Highland weather!

Doing GP training in the North of Scotland provides so many opportunities to experience the outdoors and it was a great experience walking together whilst discussing how important it is to look after ourselves - and each other as colleagues - just as well as our patients. Day Release groups are an important way of discussing any difficulties in our lives as GPSTs in what can sometimes feel like a very independent career. It is also a great way of making friends and, as this day showed, help us appreciate the many benefits of living and working in the North of Scotland.

Dr Calum Hutchens, 
ST1, Aviemore Medical Practice

Monday, 3 June 2019

Desert island debacle

Having persuaded my parents to come and visit me I felt it was only fair to introduce them to another island and so on Saturday morning we jetted off on the 15 minute journey to North Ronaldsay, Orkney's most northerly island (human population around 70 according to Wikipedia; permanent home to seaweed eating sheep, temporary home to various migratory birds). Sadly the clouds meant we couldn't see Fair Isle or Shetland from the top of the lighthouse, but I did get my first ever viewing of the Eurovision Song Contest that evening back at the bird observatory. I also managed a lovely swim with about 10 seals on Sunday morning, who curiously followed me up and down the bay for 20 minutes or so.

It's always good to sample true island life though - so as we gathered to wait for our 8 seater plane (the airport staff get a 5 minute warning from Kirkwall when it takes off so they can hurry over from their other jobs) a heavy mist obscured more and more of the view. Engine sounds came and went... and came and went... We all popped out to guess which direction the pilot was trying to approach from, and listened to the ground staff as they radioed with him... and he made one final attempt before conceding to the fog and taking his passengers back to Kirkwall - at which point the skies opened up and we enjoyed a beautiful clear evening! Such are the vagaries of island weather.

Then began a waiting game... New flights were organised - and cancelled by fog. Twice. The various guests leapfrogged each other on waiting lists as we tried to get back to mainland Orkney; and the parents got to experience island medicine as we begged, borrowed or stole some of their more important supplies from the nurse practitioner for the island (one diabetic on her books; and no acute hospital referrals in the last 2 years!) Meanwhile I fitted in another swim in Nouster Bay - just a couple of seals for company, but I managed to sneak in a photo with one of them. 

I finally flew out on Tuesday morning bumping my parents off the morning flight onto the afternoon ferry (no mercy - I had to get to our workshop in the Western Isles!) and they made it back to my house that evening to enjoy a quiet few days without me!

Dr Alison Lievesley, GPST, Rural Track Programme