8 Mar 2017

Jack Callum, DTMH January 2017

I watched him give intracardiac adrenalin to a 12 month old. I was in East Timor working in a TB Clinic because I thought it might be an interesting way to spend my holidays but once there I was drawn into the world of resource limited medicine. I watched TB diagnosed on smear, Buruli ulcers reviewed weekly for progress and transfusions being sourced from staff members. My world of discharge summaries and MRI scans took on a bleak grey hue. Here in Liverpool, I am in the rehearsal studio waiting to go into the lights of the Tropical Medicine stage.

I’ll keep this brief because if you’re anything like me you’ll have a short attention span. I’ll write two quick segments on

1 – why this is the best course I’ve ever done, and (most importantly)

2 – Where to get good coffee.

And if that’s pushing concentration levels I’ll put some colourful pictures in to break it up.


Liverpool’s Liver Building as seen from the top of St James Mt Cathedral


Let me return to the unconscious 1 yr old being given intracardiac adrenalin that seemed straight out of Pulp Fiction. I also saw a 27 yr old run a ward on her own with knowledge and confidence well beyond her years. I asked these clinicians how they were so familiar with things I’d barely even read in books. Both of them gave the same response. DTMH was where they had grown this eruption of confidence and knowledge. Before I came to Liverpool I didn’t understand exactly why they looked back on their time here with such a rose tint. Now that I’m here, I know.  I’m experiencing it for myself.

It’s not only that the content is fascinating, or that the lecturers are engaging and the facilities are enthralling (which they are). It’s not only that I’m having the time of my life in a foreign city (I am). It’s not only that I saw Liverpool FC play Chelsea at Anfield (Insert emoji with love heart eyes). It’s that this course and the people surrounding me fan the flames that my comfort blanket of routine and career had tried to smother.

I love a good beer (not this English warm and flat excrement) and so does everyone else on the course. But who are you sharing a beer with in Liverpool? Is it Rose who has worked with TB in PNG? Or Mike who has worked in South Africa? Is it one of the lecturers who’ve decided that it was beer o’clock and intersperses schooners with stories of his time in Malawi? This is overwhelming, but also motivational, inspirational and empowering. I have never been so excited to travel, and work, experience the developing world.

Study Cafés

My personal favourites à Bold Street Café, Filter and Fox or Root Cafe

All are in L1 and all have excellent coffee. Bold street, depending on the barista, will provide the mellow musical aroma of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to study to. Filter and Fox is a little more modern, very cosy and completely worth the extra 500m walk. Both have good wifi and are quiet and relaxed study environments. The final Café, Root, is in a similar area and equal to the others in allure. The difference is Root is far more open and spacious. What distinguishes the three is that Bold Street opens at 7:30 am, so if you’re a lazy coffee drinker who doesn’t want to spill coffee on his chinos while he’s walking, this gives you the extra half an hour before you stroll into the Nuffield Theatre at 9am. 

 I have no vested interest in these cafés other than the fact that I’ve invested £5 a day in Bold Street’s coffee for the past month… investment returns are heart palpitations and the illusion of improved concentration in lectures.

Worth avoiding is the wifi-devoid wastelands of Moose Café, the surprisingly disappointing ‘Bill’s’ and most importantly (Sorry LSTM) the Entamoeba-flavoured excuse for a coffee dispensed at the LSTM cafeteria (although full advocacy for an inter-lecture yogurt and granola).

Watching a Paul Garner’s humorous tirade on de-worming with moist palms and an irregular heart rate from the morning’s coffee, I write furiously with ink on a page that slowly forms the face of a terrified child that one day I will treat. In a terrified country, as a terrified doctor with steady hands braced by the knowledge from the DTMH and the inspiration of the people with whom I am fortunate enough to share this school.

Bertrand Russell: “The great life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”