Award Report - Olivia Raglan

British Columbia Women's Hospital on the western coast is one of Canada's largest maternity hospitals with over 7,000 babies born there annually; career-wise, I have a particular interest in obstetrics and gynaecology so this was a real attraction. Additionally, in my free time I enjoy all outdoor pursuits so when my medical school offered me 10 weeks' leave to work in a hospital abroad, travelling 7604km to British Columbia (nicknamed ‘the most beautiful place on earth'), it was a simple choice.

Olivia_Raglan.jpgDuring my attachment, I worked closely with the maternal-foetal medicine team, who care for the most complicated high-risk pregnancies. Women fly from all over Western Canada to be treated both during and immediately after their pregnancies. In one case, we looked after a woman whose late pregnancy with twins had been complicated by one baby sadly dying in the womb. The team is highly trained in identifying and managing abnormalities using ultrasound techniques very early on in pregnancies. They then decide how best to medically or surgically treat the woman through her pregnancy to get the optimum outcome for a healthy mum and baby. The obstetric team also care specifically for women who are addicted to illicit drugs or alcohol during their pregnancy.

The exposure and experiences I had at BC Women's Hospital were second-to-none; it really reinforced my decision to pursue a career in women's health. It wasn't all work though! Once I had completed my training at the hospital, I first spent a further two weeks in the accident and emergency department of a rural hospital on Vancouver Island where there was just one doctor in the department during each shift, covering 12 beds. My supervising Consultant seemed delighted the day I turned up to help him with the ‘minor' eye surgery, cardiac arrests and suturing (putting in stitches) that he would normally be solely responsible for. When I told him I had minimal experience in suturing on real patients (at medical school, we primarily train using artificial skin pads), he told me it was my lucky day; my first patient was a cowboy who didn't want any local anaesthetic to stitch up the gaping laceration on his chin he sustained when a horse hoofed him as he stood behind. ‘Brilliant', I thought, and put in ten stitches.

There was lots of time for whale-watching and hiking, and I then travelled to Whistler for some summer skiing and east across British Columbia to visit the National Parks of Banff and Jasper in Alberta. Here, I spent much of my time kayaking, horse-riding, swimming and enjoying the natural beauty surrounding me.

I would like to thank alumnae of The Lady Eleanor Holles School for aiding and supporting my elective.

Olivia Raglan, LEH 1998-2005