“I feel like a spare part”

  1. Hannah Beresford, fourth year medical student, Cardiff University
  1. BeresfordH{at}

Stepping onto your first ward round as a medical student is undeniably terrifying. No amount of clinical skills sessions truly prepare you for entering the world of paperwork, hierarchy, and bed management. For medical students, a ward round can mean anything from being the designated “curtain-shutter-in-chief” to a consultant-led grilling. Hannah Beresford outlines steps you can take to get more out of the ward round.


The majority of work for the ward round occurs in the preparation.

What to do before attending a ward round

  • Always be 10 minutes early. There is nothing worse than trying to find a ward round that has started without you.

  • Ensure you have the bleep number for the F1 or on-call doctor in advance. This will stop you from having to chase a team around the hospital if they’ve changed location.

  • Know the doctors’ names. Be confident and introduce yourself.

  • Read up on the common conditions you are likely to see on the ward. Some basic knowledge will go a long way and will allow you to ask helpful questions.

  • Ask for a copy of the printed patient list. This is such a simple yet crucial way of being in the loop with each patient and having a good understanding of the ward round.

  • Take a notepad and pen.

  • Wear comfortable shoes—you will be standing.

  • Familiarise yourself with some of the patients the day before by asking to take histories from suitable patients. Not only will the patients feel more comfortable with you, but you will be able to present these patients to the consultant on the ward round.

  • Ensure …

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