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We Need to Teabrief – A Comedic and Cathartic Med Podcast

Oct 3, 2021

Written by MedicGuild

Say hello to Bells, Nikki and Noa; three medical students who come together to drink tea and debrief over the week that was - or, TeaBrief. Join them every Monday fortnight as they vent, laugh and cry over all things life and med school. Subscribe and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

We sat down for a cuppa and a chat with the team to hear all about their up and coming podcast. 

How did the podcast come about?

Nikki: It’s a funny story. I was in hotel quarantine and Bells and I were venting about med and our weeks. We couldn’t stop laughing and cringing over the stories we were telling each other, and we thought, ‘we should make a podcast!’ This was at 10:00pm and we were very delirious at this point, so naturally we decided to get Noa in on it as well. 

We called her up and she was not impressed. But she basically said ‘okay, fine, as long as you guys do most of the work.’

Noa: We found that we were having conversationst amongst ourselves anyway. A lot of the conversations were not ones that you typically have in the open, and that you would broadcast, but they're really important conversations to be had. We thought normalising these conversations would help others realise that the highs and low they experienced at placement was really... normal. 

Has TeaBriefing been helpful?

Nikita:  Debriefing with med students about what happens on placement is so important in the sense that it reminds us that we’re not alone in our experiences. It's shared, we're all going through the same things together and we're venting about it while being a bit vulnerable. And if we’re vulnerable with each other and ultimately our listeners, maybe they’ll know that it's okay to be vulnerable as well.

Noa: I think a lot of the content or the things that we talk about are very relatable. Everyone will fail a procedural skill, or go through the headaches of research. And there's just a lot of dumb stuff that happens on placement. You know, you joke about it with your friends and I think it's nice to listen back to it and know that other people are experiencing that too.

Bells: Especially if you're in lockdown in Melbourne or Sydney and you don't really see too many people too often anymore; you don't have those chances to debrief about everything. It's nice to hear that other people are going through the same stuff as well.

How does TeaBrief differ from the debriefs in a clinical setting?

Noa: These are genuine conversations that we have. They're not scripted whatsoever. They're raw. They're completely and totally just how we're feeling at that moment.

With structured debriefs that you get in a clinical setting, you often don't have that opportunity to be raw and real. You're told it's okay to be feeling what you're feeling, but you actually don't get given the opportunity to feel that. TeaBrief is just laying it bare.

Nikki: And it’s not even that you’re not given the opportunity to debrief, you are, but you don’t feel like you want to express your emotions or what was going through your head with your consultants and fellow colleagues. You don't always want them knowing what you're thinking. Especially because we’re not permanent parts of the team; we come and go very quickly and don’t have the chance to connect with the team properly. 

Noa: And half the time you're venting about them anyway.

Nikki: Exactly - so it's really nice to debrief in a vague setting when no one's named and nothing's directed at anyone.

Bells: It's a lot harder to open up to strangers that you don't really know. It's very important to debrief but you just don't feel comfortable debriefing with someone that you don't really have an emotional connection with. 

Noa: On top of that you have to maintain a certain level of professionality, especially with your colleagues, like Bells said, they're not typically your friends, so you do have to distance yourself somewhat. 

Nikki: I remember when I was on rural placement and we had a mass casualty event, it was just so busy that day that we were sent home before the formal debrief because it was midnight and the team just said, “go home guys.” 

When we got to the hospital the next day, nothing was said. Then a couple of days later, one of the doctors came in and remembered to include us, saying something along the lines of “I just wanted to make sure you guys were all ok after that - Is everyone fine? Are you all okay?” And we hesitantly said “yeah, we're good... thanks” and that was it. I feel like even as a student, you're not really part of the team yet, you're often just an afterthought.

Noa: I noticed this as well. I was in a really traumatic birth once and everyone was running everywhere to get different things, do different tasks. And it was really, really hectic. The registrar was so overwhelmed. This was probably her sixth or seventh emergency birth for the night and she was the only doctor on the night shift. 

When all was said and done, I was helping and doing things that, you know, probably weren’t in the role of a medical student, and by the end of the night we were both extremely exhausted, physically and emotionally. She had no one to debrief to and I don't think she felt comfortable debriefing to me. I remember her just staring at the wall, blank faced because she was just so exhausted. 

This all reinforces this kind of guardedness we have towards debriefing with your seniors, but I think also debriefing with your juniors as well isn't an accepted thing.

How can people get involved? What’s next?

Nikki: Well, come to our Instagram, tell us your story. We get a lot of DMs and we have quick chats about what other students are going through. Next season we were thinking of adding a segment to the podcast where people can submit topics beforehand on our Instagram stories and we can just chat about it. 

Otherwise always feel free to give us recommendations on teas that are good to drink! We promise we will drink them! 

Noa: I hope it's something that grows with us and that people can follow our journeys. We all have staggered journeys at the moment and I think it will be really good to see us kind of grow from med students to junior doctors. 

Nikki: Maybe we'll even keep it up as consultants!

If you were a tea what would it be?

Bells: I'd be a Jasmine tea! Mainly because I really get around it, but Noa does not (listen to episode 6 - “Jumping over hurdles set on fire by our faculties, balancing work with uni and rat birds” for the full reference)

Nikki: I know I’d be a masala chai. Like a traditional one. A bit spicy, a bit sweet… a bit creamy? 

Noa: I think I'd be a matcha tea. It’s reliable and versatile, you can even cook with it! 

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