The musings of a junior doctor

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

An honest account of medicine

I have spent the last year trying to understand what is and is not appropriate to share online regarding my medical training. This blog came to existence because of the paucity of information I found whilst at school about what it was really like to be a medical student. I hoped I could fill the gap, and felt it would be important to do so. 

Over five years I have talked about my workload, my mental health and the many challenges along the way. Sometimes I felt I had so much to say but feared it would be unprofessional to share. There are things I do not like about the NHS and the way medical students are treated, but was this the appropriate place to share those views? What would my colleagues think?

I reread the GMC’s guidance of ‘Doctors use of social media’. I remember at the start of medical school being told to read over this, but I had not looked at it since. In all honesty I got very little from reading it again. The key points I took from it were: “always maintain patient confidentiality… information you publish must be factual and can be checked”, you should not communicate with patients via your private social media profile, “If you identify yourself as a doctor in publicly accessible social media, you should also identify yourself by name … When you post material online, you should be open about any conflict of interest and declare any financial or commercial interests”. To my knowledge there is no guidance specifically on blogging.

My ultimate, uncomfortable question was: can I really talk about how hard it is sometimes? Whilst I know I can describe my working hours, my training requirements, the city hopping from hospital to hospital, this isn’t really the right place to put my feelings. I find this frustrating because prospective medical students deserve to know what they are signing up for, and part of that is the emotional toll it can take. The elephant in the room is the bullying and poor treatment of healthcare professionals that still continues today. I have been the victim of that and I have observed it happen to others. Sadly we are not always in a safe environment to raise those concerns without worrying about potential personal repercussions. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I don’t think I should share these experiences publicly. 

With this in mind, I wondered what the point of this blog would be. I think there is still a lot I can contribute to explaining how medical training works by sharing my own journey, but safe to say it will be an edited and less emotional version of events. 

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