The other first year house officers I work with despise the job! Like, they genuinely loathe breast and endocrine surgery. And I would normally understand because they have no interest in surgery at all. But now I’m starting to realize that they don’t hate the job because they don’t like surgery, but it’s because of the type of work we’re doing.
We’re not learning. We’re not managing patients. We’re often doing odd jobs that could be considered secretarial. Hence why we started calling ourselves glorified secretaries. We’re calling bed managers to arrange beds for patients. We’re calling couriers to deliver patient notes between hospitals. We’re calling secretaries from other hospitals in order to have operation notes from a surgery in 2013 faxed over for our consultant. I guess it can be stressful, but my two colleagues seem to stress over it a whole lot more than I do.
And at the same time, I guess they’re failing to realize that there is plenty of opportunity to learn and gain experience. We see patients twice a week during our own pre-op assessment clinic. While they focus on co-morbidities and ordering every appropriate test they can think of to make sure the patient is clear for surgery, I spend my time taking a full history and conducting a thorough physical. So a person has diabetes, but they’re not on insulin and it’s relatively well controlled just on oral metformin. I’m not going to freak out and email everyone about this patient asking whether they are to come in a day early.
And so what if I get yelled at by a senior doctor?! I take this as a natural process that it supposed to happen during your career training, and to be quite honest, Brits are super, super, super nice when they’re telling you off. It’s absolutely impossible for me to be offended by anything they say. Maybe it’s my thick skin? But I’m able to take getting yelled at with a grain of salt and learn from it. And luckily, I don’t get told off too much either.
Overall, I am somewhat satisfied with my job. There are a lot of things to learn, and it’s not the medical knowledge I’m talking about, it’s the practicality of the job – what to do and when; when to call for senior advice; who to call for senior advice. I’m fairly confident that I know my limitations on the job. And every day is a time to learn. Unfortunately, agreeing with my house officers, there isn’t much opportunity to learn patient management on this job unless you’re on call because we barely have ward patients with breast and endocrine surgery. And when we do, they’re (thankfully) complication-free.