A Fresh Start?

Things have picked up a bit in my new placement, which I appreciate. (I might soon regret this). But for now, I’m just relieved to be in a new team, doing a new job.

The first few days were hectic. Nothing major, just a moderate amount of jobs that kept me busy enough. I cover around 4+ wards, so there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. The first day was an immense amount of to-ing and fro-ing, which meant I got tired really quickly. Over the next few days, I tried completing jobs by working my way through one ward, then moving onto the next one. It made things a bit easier but the nurses and patients didn’t play to my masterful plan, but nonetheless I was running around a whole lot less.

Even though it hasn’t been super busy, it’s enough of a pace that I’m constantly on my feet. And I need to be quite conscious of time so that I don’t stay too late. I’m trying to be organised and get things done as quickly as possible. This is why I try to delegate jobs if I can. If there’s something that I need to do, I’ll have to do it. If it’s something that potentially a nurse could do, then it’s super super helpful if they do it. The most tedious of jobs are cannulating and bloods, the bane of my existence.

The setup, the cleaning, the procedure itself, the clean down, then putting all the extra bits back in the right places. It’s all just too time consuming. You can imagine the immense gratitude I feel when I come across a nurse that can put cannulas in. My eyes roll to the back of my head with a silent prayer of thanks. I appreciate the nurses trying and having a go.

On Thursday, one of the nurses bleeped me on the ward to say her patient needed a cannula for his antibiotics. She’d tried and couldn’t get it. Fair enough. But I was still a bit annoyed, not at her, but at the cannulation situation. I get there, put one in and leave, I’ve still got quite a lot to do. Discharge summaries to write, other people to bleed (I think phlebotomists were on strike that day), scans to request etc. I get called an hour later, to put a cannula into the same patient I’d just put a cannula in because he pulled it out. Irritated, doesn’t begin to explain…

At that point, I still had a backlog of uncompleted tasks and I was annoyed at the idea that I had to go redo something I’d just done. It wasn’t the nurses or the patient’s fault. These things happen. I explained I wouldn’t be able to get there as I was swamped, and that if she could or anyone else could try but I wouldn’t be able to get there quickly.

When I got there, there was a tiny plastic cannula, nicely bandaged on the patient’s arm. I’m not sure who put it in, but it was like seeing a rainbow on a rainy day.

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Confessions of a Junior Doctor: My Thoughts

Confessions of a junior doctor Photograph: Ryan Mcnamara/Channel 4
Photograph: Ryan Mcnamara/Channel 4

It’s hard, sometimes, to put into words the constant turmoil of being a junior doctor. What I feel is a jumble of inaudible noise and frustration, yet the only way for me to translate it is to lay it out orderly, word after word, sentence by sentence because:

as45d8ty769ot79lu!!@2%^^%$@£

doesn’t make any sense. Maybe that’s why people prefer visuals, a picture speaks a thousand words. But what about video?

Episode 1

I sat down to watch Confessions of a Junior Doctor.

I was 5 minutes in to the first episode and I had to stop watching. It’s the beginning of August and it’s the F1s’ first week as doctors. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is difficult to watch. I wonder if I looked like that, so optimistic and clueless. It was almost like looking back at myself, several months ago.

I kept pausing the programme at moments that touched a nerve. One of that being Sam, an F2. He said he didn’t have time to speak to each patient for 20 minutes, because there were so many others to see. Pause: I’ve been there. Seeing someone say my thoughts back to me behind a screen is a weird sensation. There have been times where a patient has caught me after the ward round and inquired about their management plan and I almost want to hit myself. The fact that they actually need to ask means I’ve not done my job properly. It pains me to try to squeeze enough patients before 12. It’s a difficult ordeal.

The same doctor, Sam, decides not to apply for training in the UK and he followed with “I want what anybody wants. I want to be able to do the job that I’m trained to do. I want to be respected,” he pauses, “I want to be happy.” Sometimes I feel so guilty for even thinking about my happiness but when your job forms such a big part of your waking hours, shouldn’t happiness be a part of it? Can I truly be happy and still leave the ward with a heavy heart?

If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend giving it a watch.

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The ARCP Deadline

I have approximately 6-7 weeks before ARCP (annual review of competence progression) and I’m nervous. By the deadline, I should have completed all the competences before I’m found good enough to progress on to F2. These include: procedures, evidence of teaching sessions, case discussions etc. Essentially, there are hoops to jump. I have a few left to jump, but they’re not the easy ones. If it were a computer game, these hoops would be the golden coins you have to travel up a mountain and lose several lives in the process. They’re difficult, because the opportunities to actually get them done are hard to come by.

What worries me isn’t the amount of time, it’s that I’ll be too busy doing ward jobs to make time. And annoyingly, I had time on my last placement to get through these, but for some reason I just didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. This is completely on me.

I don’t have a lot left to do, and I know I shouldn’t panic but I’m automatically visualising worst case scenario. So, I’m working on a plan to get everything done before doomsday.

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The Train Journey

The train journey (from Edinburgh) was interesting. I’d gotten on ready to claim my rightful place but I eventually had to move and give up my window and table seat.

I was sitting with two other passengers: a woman and a man. At first I thought they’d arrived together because he was mid-conversation when I approached the table. I caught the end of his sentence about being torn between two places: Lancaster and I can’t remember the other place. It was clearly an emotional topic. I just assumed this conversation must have begun before they’d boarded the train (because we’d all got on at the same stop).

He was speaking so gruffly and erratically and the woman still hadn’t spoken. I realised at that point, she probably didn’t know him. *sighs inwardly* I was hoping for a quiet journey. He got up to let me sit by the window, then sat back down beside me and continued his one-sided conversation. It was fragmented and sort of made sense but I wasn’t paying too much attention. It felt like he was speaking his thoughts old loud, but it was awkward because we were all sitting around a table in really close proximity to each other. In my mind, I kept wondering: is he talking to us or… at us…or to himself…?

I thought it couldn’t get any more weird but we then descended onto new levels. He began asking me questions. Normally, I don’t mind engaging in friendly chit-chat, but there’s usually a nice opening like ‘hey’ or some remark about the weather or something neutral to get the ball rolling. I don’t know if he was drunk (I couldn’t smell any alcohol) or whether he just had an eccentric personality but his line of questioning made me uncomfortable and it seemed it made the lady in front of me uncomfortable as well because she quickly came to my rescue and asked him to stop.

I’d been caught off guard. I was trying to formulate a polite way to tell him to stop. But in that moment where my brain was trying to process what was happening and also think of an appropriate response: polite but firm, I just mumbled answers. I wanted to make sure I didn’t over react. So, I was in awe at how quickly she came to my aid. Then after, she asked me if I was ok, and I mouthed that I was.

I sat there and contemplated moving. I was wedged in. He was sitting beside me and the table (and the other lady) were in front of me. If I wanted to move, I’d have to engage with him again. The journey was three hours long and we were less than 20 minutes in. I could sit there and just ignore his ramblings or I could move. A younger me would have stayed, too embarrassed to move or to offend anyone else and just suffer silently .

I moved. I deserve the right to travel in peace. Plus, it was 2 in the afternoon and there were barely any other passengers so it didn’t make any sense to sit in what was essentially an empty carriage with bad company.

I’m thankful for that woman and how quickly she shut him down. I think sometimes, it takes someone on the outside looking in to realise that something isn’t right. So, I’m really, really grateful.

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Travelling

I decided to do something out of the blue. I’ve picked the destination, booked the ticket and the hotel. And though it’s not far, it’s to a new place/country I’ve never been before and on my own. A few firsts.

Why?

  1. I have travel envy. Seeing other people visiting new places, it makes me want to travel. Swiping through Instagram makes me feel inspired to look up cheap flights and dream.
  2. It’s hard to find people to travel with. I’ve made the mistake before of travelling with a bunch of people. There were a lot of arguments and tantrums. It’s not an experience I want to repeat.
  3. It’s hard to work around schedules and people are busy. After a few attempts, things just never panned out which is ok. Plus, with our kind of schedule (nights, on calls and the like) finding time takes a lot of forward planning and effort.
  4. It’s a trial run. There are loads of places I eventually want to visit: South Africa, Rio, Tokyo, New Zealand. I want to try to work myself up to the more far flung areas by starting small. I’m hoping I can build up my courage.When it came to booking the tickets, the worried part of me went in to overdrive, and I nearly talked myself out of it.
  5. I want some time away. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. I just want to take it easy and not think about the wards or hospital or the last few months.
  6. I want the peace and the quiet. Living with my family, it can feel like I don’t get the chance to just be by myself which makes me cranky and irritable. A few days on my own might be just what I need.

I haven’t said where I’m going yet, but you might be able to guess…

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