The musings of a junior doctor

Sunday, 23 February 2020

6 months as a doctor

Wow, somehow I have been working for six months! I'm happy to say overall I am loving my job.

Foundation Year 1 has been a rollercoaster, a job of exponential learning. It's amazing how the stuff that scared you on day one you now don't think twice about. I completed my first rotation in acute medicine and now I am mid way through my general surgery rotation.

There are hundreds of things that annoy me about this job, but I still love doing it. The parts that frustrate me relate to how the NHS is run, rather than my actual job. The constrictions placed upon us while we work within a poorly managed and often short-staffed environment.

Amongst the lows, there have been many highs. I have met so many wonderful colleagues who have mentored me, supported me and become my friends. I get so much enjoyment from spending time with patients. There have been unexpected diagnoses, like the patient in ED who came in with a humeral fracture, and I diagnosed with metastatic cord compression. The unstable PR bleeds who were resuscitated well and stabilised. My proudest moment was looking after a patient who needed good palliative care. Being there for that patient and their family was a privilege. After the patient died, the family came back to the ward, gave me flowers and thanked me for the care I gave. That patient died where they wanted to, with dignity and with their loved ones.

What I am currently struggling with the most is dealing with confrontation. Part of what attracts me to this career is the fundamental team we rely on to get the job done. When that team works well it's great, and when it doesn't it causes all sorts of chaos and disagreement. There have been many tense moments that I have been directly or indirectly involved in. It makes me very sad seeing how rude people can be to each other. I try to understand; maybe it's because they're stressed/sleep deprived, maybe this wouldn't have become an argument if we had the 'right' resources. But sometimes there is no excuse - some people are just bullies. There is no defence for racism and sexism.
I've had moments when I am so tired, overwhelmed and sick of being treated in a disrespectful way, and I have retaliated. I invariably regret responding to that kind of behaviour. But when you are pushed that far, there is only so much you can take.

I'm starting to realise why I trained to be a doctor: the human interaction. I don't see myself pursuing an academic career, but it makes me very happy to spend time with patients and the team. Supporting someone during a terrible moment in their life has given me a lot of purpose. I look forward to what the next rotations will hold for me.
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