Last week we shared the blog posts of 22-year-old medical student Tom Petrie. We wanted to find out more about this 4th-year medical student whose Instagram posts, telling adapted anecdotes from his ward rounds, are garnering thousands of likes on Instagram.
We caught up with Tom to find out more about the man behind the Instagram account.
Tom wanted to be a doctor for as long as he can remember.
“My father has been an NHS doctor for 40 years and whether it was him taking me into care homes on Christmas Day to wish his patients a happy Christmas or seeing first hand the happiness it brought him to make a difference to patients lives, I believe he ingrained in me a caring nature that sees the beauty in helping people.”
His father has been a role model for him his whole life, especially when he saved the lives of two of his brothers.
“They each had meningitis and on both occasions, the hospital claimed that they were “intoxicated” or “just under the weather”. They were told to go home but my dad refused to leave and demanded treatment which upon reflection saved them. Once I was old enough to reflect on these two events I wanted to be a doctor so that I could protect my family forever.”
In 2021, he decided to start his Instagram account “@ward_round_with_tom” which has quickly grown to 12k engaged followers who are from both medical and non-medical backgrounds.
“I have been touched by the support I’ve received from all over the world and I never dreamed of it being so successful.”
Tom explains that he created this account to “showcase all the incredible people” he has met working in the NHS so far.
“I have been inspired by the fantastic staff and utterly amazed at the perseverance and strength of character that patients show on a day-to-day basis. I created this Instagram to showcase these incredible people.”
He also uses his page as a form of reflecting on his experiences and his mistakes. “I find it therapeutic, especially when I talk about tricky subjects. One post reflecting on the first death I ever saw comes to mind.”
The page also functions as a personal development tool as some of his posts attract the comments of other doctors or questions from the non-medical community. Tom says communicating with his followers helps him learn himself.
“The topics spark tricky conversations with people from all walks of life and I think the learning points I gain will make me a better doctor one day.”
What surprised Tom the most when he started rounds at the ward was the willingness of staff and patients to chuck students into the deep end and learn by doing.
“Whether this is taking your first bloods (if you’ve read my post on this you’ll know it didn’t go to plan), holding a consultation with a patient that has just attempted to end their own life, or perhaps a patient offering you to try your first ever catheter on them, being a med student is very much about giving everything a go and never hesitating at an opportunity.”
One post that stood out for Tom was “The magic of Sharukh Khan”, which you can read here.
"As medical students, we often feel useless on placement and at times a nuisance. We stand around, get in the way and take up the doctor’s precious time explaining things to us! I think this story showed people that even students can make a difference in patients' lives by being compassionate and doing anything in our power to improve their care."
Reading Tom’s blog we were reminded of the International best seller This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay, like Kay, Tom covers the unique experiences of a medical student in a humorous and candid way, although Tom’s stories (considerably less cynical) always finish with a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I have read this fantastic book. In fact, it was one of my inspirations for starting my page. I loved how it championed the NHS workers whilst putting a funny spin on some patient stories.”
Funnily enough, Tom is always getting messages and advice telling him to write a book like Adam Kay’s and this may just be on the cards!
“I love writing so hopefully I’ll gain many more stories through my time as a doctor and then I can contact a publisher!”
Tom "couldn't recommend writing enough" to other doctors looking for an outlet or a way to process their experiences. "On a day-to-day basis, we witness the most astonishing situations and the most inspiring people so it’s only right we share it with the world in a confidential way."
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