Friday, March 28, 2014

Life of a Houseman

I could not even begin to describe how my life has changed tremendously for the last one month. My current and previous work is nothing like one another. I used to work 40 hours a week, from 9 to 5 in Geneva. Even if I go to the gym in the WHO building, it still counts as working hours. Even my 30 minutes nap after lunch in the 'Quiet Room'! Little could I imagine back then that I would now be working more than 85 hours a week, waking up at 4.30 AM everyday, drive 20 kilometres to work, arrive around 5.30 to 6 AM, and work non-stop till 8 PM. That's more than 12 hours a day.

Life back when I was a medical student was even much easier. We go to lectures and teachings. No class? Go to sleep. It is true that working as a doctor and studying medicine is a whole different thing. Medical school is all about medicine. Full stop. Working as a doctor, half of the time involves non-medical stuff like dealing with patient's family, implant company agents, police officers, wardens in the nearby Sungai Buloh prison, lawyers, private investigators, SOCSO agents, and once I have to even deal with SYABAS, a water supplier for one of their employees who they believe is faking or exaggerating his illness. It's a crazy world, this doctoring world.

I was overwhelmed in the beginning, thinking 'what the heck, is this really what I want to do all my life?'. During the start of my work, when I was tagging, the job seems so daunting that I wake up with anxiety and nausea everyday. As taggers, we have to know all 28 cases in the ward, expected to present them at any time during ward rounds, without looking or refering to any notes. The task was gargantuan, and we have to stay until 10 PM everyday, which is the earliest (usually we won't be able to go back until 11 or 12 PM because of more work), and come to work at 6 the next day. That left like 3 to 4 hours of sleep everyday. I did that for 19 days, until I finally got off-tag. It was really a tough time for me.

But I always believe that we can get used to anything if we expose our brain long enough to the new challenges. Our brain rebels when there is too much new information coming in all at the same time. It needs time to digest things. It has been a month and my brain has started to accept this new working environment. I no longer wake up feeling anxious and nauseous. I begin to take more responsibilities, managing clinics, scrubbing in to operating theatres, attaching to the emergency department. Work is still stressful especially in the morning before ward rounds, but the stress goes downtrend as the day goes to an end. At the end of the day, nothing beats the feeling of driving back home feeling good you had a patient's sugar or blood level controlled just by putting a sign on the drug prescription, you sutured close a gaping wound nicely and stopped the bleeding, you nicely trimmed some fingers that went into a cutting machine, and inserted a steel rod into the legs to temporarily help with fractures. It is a truly satisfying feeling.

I no longer have doubts if this is what I will be doing all my life. It can be fun, but we can't see it while we are in the middle of the hectic working hours. It is time like this current moment, where I have a half-day off and working night shift tomorrow, that I can take a step back, think about what I did for the past one month, remember all the things I went through, that I feel it is worth being a doctor. For me, if a work is too much it becomes stressful. But if a work is too little it becomes depressing. I remember times where I had a whole day to write just a single report, but it becomes so depressing because I kinda have a mental block when there is too much time and I don't know what to write. I start writing 2 hours before the deadline in the end and feel depressed again feeling that I could have done a better job. Working in the hospital, you never have free time to be depressed about work. It's stressful, but it's a positive stress. All the work is done in the ward, when you go back you pass over your patients to the night shift doctor, and you go home not needing to worry to much because you believe your patient is in the safe hands of your colleague.

So in the end...yeah, being a houseman doctor isn't so bad. The only thing I still resent is the inability to confirm and convince to your non-medical friends when you will be free. I have always been asked for appointments and meet-ups for either HBB or just catching up. It is so hard to confirm a date where you'll be free because we work on weekends and our day-off can fall on any day and changes every week. It sucks, but otherwise, life's OK ;)


21 comments:

Nurul Ain said...

Kerjaya doktor adalah sesuatu yg mulia.terpaksa korbankn masa untuk mmbantu yg lain.terima kasih doktor ! :-)

Anonymous said...

wowwww.. now i am thinking on becoming a doctor's wife.. its looks like doctor's time spent with the patient. not with his wife ><. can i go through this.??

Anonymous said...

This is the way to go as the beginner in medical field. With this attitude, I believe that you will go far and excel. Its just the matter of doing all the tasks given to you the best that you can and surely this job is rewarding. Keep it up. Enjoy your housemanship years while all the responsibilities will be taken care by your senior doctors

Anonymous said...

Very well said..do not stress ur self by being over work..because they will repay u in other way..enjoy it..as for me..i stress up because of stupid lazy colleagues who stupidly chose wrong path and did not care our patients..
Do not stress up when ur mo/specialist scolded u..it will make u better someday..
Do not scold patient..it will make u worse..
I hv a complicated patient staying in my ward now..im depress as he refused for iv line insertion at all for the past one month despite of daily dose of persuasion..and i almost cry..then he dance to cheer me up..
Do care,do love and do ur best for ur patient..they will return back ur kindness..

dayanaazhar:) said...

thanks doc for this post. I like how you write about the reality. I also like how you write about having long hours of free time yet depressing over it. true, it happens especially here in USM when we have study weeks. I prefer to go to classes actually ahahahha. sitting in the room with so much free time is really depressing. of course, to know how you mentioned that how working as a houseman is all about positive stress. that somehow gives hope to someone who really wants to do medicine. thanks again. all the best in everything doc!

Anonymous said...

20 years ago it was much worse than that but it build superb skills in us all, old timers. Today, we see house officers complaining even when they are just taking care of 2 patients in a ward. Neither could they identify pallor or jaundice in a patient what more hypovolaemic shock. And yet they feel they are being abused/bullied for spending extra hours in hospital. I wonder where we went wrong. Its very sad indeed!

Nurman said...

Good piece of article. Hope to see you again in the future

Sufian Azri said...

Very much thanks for this uplifting article for a future graduate like myself. It has been overwhelming to know more and more experience of fellow members from the healthcare profession.

SufianAzri

Sufian Azri said...

Very much thanks for this uplifting article for a future graduate like myself. It has been overwhelming to know more and more experience of fellow members from the healthcare profession.

SufianAzri

Nisa said...

Hi, my husband and I are both doctors. We got married just before we started our housemanship. It was tough but we managed to have a good life during housemanship. We enjoyed our housemanship time.
Be understanding, supportive, not too demanding, and committed into the relationship. Make sure your future husband is committed too! Busy, but he must make time for you! Doctors are smart creatures, isn't it? Hehe, so manage your time wisely!
Have fun, do not whine!

Prasath Swaminathan said...

Kudos! As a fellow alumni of your hospital HOs, I'm sure you'll go through housemanship fine if u keep up the positive attitude. If others can do it, there's no reason u can't! Just remember these hardships are necessary for your betterment.. Tht way, you'll always have fuel left in the tank to keep u going!

Anonymous said...

welcome to the hell, pal...
But if u r a TRUE doctor, u ll enjoy it.
I also feel great when I save a patient...or solve a patient's health problem. This kind of "feel good" cant bought with money..especially when patient appreciate u help.
I hope u can hang on there...and dont "frozen" u heart on the way of "doctoring". Too many of our seniors lost themselves during this adventure..
Bravo..bro! Pray that u became another TRUE doctor.

Anonymous said...

Good job bro r u 1st posting in ortho? Congratz on ur survival.. thr is still long way to go but with this positive attitude u'll be juz fine.. hope u can maintain the momentum n do not lose ur passion halfway thru.. anyway u have 28 pts per ward? That's kinda relaxing actually shudnt have problem to remember all pts (try 40 to 60 pts per ward) but then u r 1st posting in Hosp Sg Buloh i guess.. it is good enuf.. n things bcome easier day by day n when u enter new posting, it is like whole new journey starts back.. it is medical life cycle the same will happen during MOship n beyond.. keep up the good work n be truthful to ur work :)

Jαnnαhツ said...

kesian kat doktor sbb kene deal dgn macam2 jenis pesakit. ada pulak takde keje pegi hospital and feign illness. nape x saman je orang amcam ni hoho *emo*. emmm.... teringat jdrama pasal munchausen syndrom.... :D

Anonymous said...

in the 2nd pic, the open fracture would looks like its been on Dermacyn dressing?

Fatimah N said...

wow, what more should I expect from this blog?

tqvm for the sharing. jzkk.

may Allah make things surmountable for all of us, no matter how difficult it is.

Please pray for your juniors who would be sitting for the pro xm starting tomorrow!

ieda iedana said...

Thank you.
Thank you in advance, for all the sacrifice you all doctors made.
To the lack of 'me' time
To the lack of 'socializing' time
To the lack of 'sleep' time
To the never-ending cases to be treated
To the everything, that words could ever describe

you're everyday's unsung heroes.

keep up the good work, motivation and passion in this job.

coz, we (the society) need u

Only Allah can pay u back =)

Mohd. Ramadan Bin Ab.Hamid said...

All the best!

maswiana abd majid said...

Carilah keberkatan dlm apa jua yang kita buat. Ker ja doktor ke cikgu ke tukang sapu ke semuanya sama di sisi Allah. Yang penting jalankan amanah yang Allah beri pada kita. To my beloved HO, this is the time to learn as much as clinical skill for you to practice later. Senang cerita, korang biasa tgk cerita kungfu mcm mana kena torture dgn tok guru sblm jadi champion. Memang perit kena marah dgn senior klu buat salah. Kadang2 rasa x padan jer dgn kesalahan. Tapi satu hari nnt korang akan faham. Last but not least, please take care ur patient like the way u expect other doctor to care of ur family. Once in a while ask ur self, am I going to let somebody like me to handle my love one. ??

anep said...

"if a work is too much it becomes stressful. But if a work is too little it becomes depressing" - agree with ur statement doc..coz my workfield is so relaxing till i feel boring and depress sometimes..but after read ur side of story, maybe i should glad with what i've now..haha

Othman Fatimah said...

Good for you. This may inspires all young doctors not to worrying too much for the housemanship. Setiap kerjaya has their own challenges. Sama sahaja. The difference is ourself, how do we react on it, how do we manage the challenge.. How do we carry ourself ... Jadi, kenal diri sendiri dulu .. Than perhaps you may be at ease for others .. In Sha Allah . Best wishes to all doctors out there, jalankan tanggungjawab anda dengan penuh courtesy, honesty.

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