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What I learn during my housemanship

Housemanship.

We embarked the journey, with muchhh rumours and impressions from other people.

Nervous.

Excited.

Scared.

On my first week, I was nerve-wrecked.
On my first month, I wanted to quit.

It seemed impossible, when I don’t know so many things. I felt useless, I highly doubted myself.

I called for all the help I could get. Luckily, I got all the support from family and friends who continuously were offering me good inspiring words and keep pushing me to hold on.
Then after one year I assure you, it felt like I just sailed through.

Like my father once said, the first half is as hard as climbing a mountain, but the other half…. you just enjoy the ride.
And then..what? I’m gonna be a medical officer? Gulp!

Here’s some lessons I learnt during my housemanship.

1. It is okay not to know everything, YET.

This is a training period after all. They don’t expect us to know it all. But never stay complacent there. Quickly search for answers of things you don’t know. Ask, ask and ask. Keep asking and looking for answers. There’s a list of topics we’re expected to master by the time we finish every posting. Those are things we’ll be most likely to encounter in our future practice. So identify what we don’t know today. And work on it. Never ignore the problem.

2. The boss is not out there to screw you.

Nope. They just want to do their job, as the rest of the staff.  We come to work everyday, aiming to finish our tasks on time, so we can go home and spend quality time with our beloved. Earlier during my internship I remembered I was really bad at remembering cases, not to mention my lack of general knowledge that the boss used to scold me. I constantly think of running away. I was afraid of certain bosses. I however went to Head of Department and told him I want some time off because i don’t think I’m ready.

You know what did the boss say?

He said, “Don’t take it personally. We have nothing against you. It’s just that when you don’t do things properly, it is our job to correct you. Our method of teaching may varies. But it’s nothing against who you are as a person. Keep fighting. You’ve got to identify your problem, and face it head on.”

I went on working, having palpitation each day, but day by day I found that I got better.

As I become more senior it was clearer to me, that really, as we climbed up the ladder we have bigger responsibilities. We’re in charge of more staff, and of subdivisions. So the boss now, trust me to do my morning rounds properly and simply present to him the summary of the problems at hand, so he quickly plan the next step of management. We can have bedside teaching if the time permits. Even have breakfast together.

The Keyword: efficiency and efficacy.

3. We work as a team.

A good morning review by house officer will identify problems. Based on problems presented, the supervisors will be able to plan proper management. Nursing staff and house officer will execute plan and the regular monitoring of patient. Supporting staff help ensure patient’s comfort. It’s teamwork, where all participants need to cooperate and contribute.

In some of the hospital wards, things can be very hectic. Sometimes I feel like “The Flash” superhero running around the wards. Sometimes we queue over the computer to make reports and discharge summaries, the phone to book appointments and make referrals. From the moment the morning ward round finished, it was like…… Get, set, and Go! Tick tock….. tick tock….. we’re racing with time.

Amidst that crazy race, sometimes we did forget our manners. We didn’t manage to say Please, and Thank you. We pursed our lips and believed it was enough as a smile, and sometimes even making eye contact was a tremendous effort. Yes. Sometimes we did feel we’re the busiest person in the world. Worse, if that comes along with a sour face, snappy mouth and offensive gestures. Gossips are never good. They’re juicy but they’re never healthy. Good communication is the key. Be supportive and if in need, ask help politely. Because everyone like to feel needed, and appreciated. And a good team is alot like family.

4. Patient is number one.

With that motto in mind, we serve.

Patient is our customer. Always keep patient informed of his condition, our plan of treatment. Ensure he knows what he is dealing with. Often in our race of time, we only get to do the minimum. We learn to speak very fast. Sometimes I do wish I can just play a voice recorder for some common procedure explanation and advices. Sometimes we tell patient off for not eating medications properly, for not coming for regular wound dressing, etc.

We need to manage a lot within office hours; refer to the physiotherapist, call the insurance company to ensure payment is settled before patient discharged, making summaries, that sometimes we may not  adequately inform patient positions to avoid, how long he need to wear the cast, and how to care for it, etc.
Patient need to know. Because he is taking the drugs we prescribe. He is wearing that cast. He is living the disease. He is taking that risk he is not aware of.
The diabetic is going to get retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy. That stage, you have seen it coming. It comes faster with poor glycemic control, if only he’d known. He’d been taking his medications only occasionally, and his meals to his liking. Until he got ketoacidosis. If only he knew.

5. Work hard, play harder!

The two years of housemanship is a period with odd working hours and no real definition of a weekend!
After some time you got into the routine of automode – sort of being a zombie. Work. Eat. Sleep. And repeat till the endposting holiday.
It is a test to see if you can tolerate that life. Because, no, we are actually not alone. When I take early morning flight I see the toll gate girls, the bus and taxi drivers, airport crews, and many more who have odd shifts hours too. They are alive and so are we.

It is easy to be lost and play zombie, drained of motivation and passion.

Just carry on. And suddenly you realised that the time passed.

Don’t dread the days. Don’t fret how you don’t have a life in such routine each day.

Learn to enjoy the little things, i.e the free food the nurses kindly brought to share in pantry.

Find ways to refresh. Go for shopping or hair treatment on your postcalls.

Recharge with support from your beloved.

Plan endposting holidays beforehand and set free during the break.

Then start again the next day, or the new posting,  fully energized.

6. Aim high, and shooottt!

Two years may feel like forever in the beginning, on weekends and public holidays, but it will pass. Your turn will be over, and they will be others taking their turn to learn and experience. We will then be expected to serve bearing full responsibility, together with our name and practice license number.

We see many patients of various cases everyday. There are much to explore, so venture and find our niche. Take professional exams if we may, a fast track on becoming a specialist.
Ask the experienced. They know where the gold pots and the holes are.
Know your interests and passion. Work will take half and maybe more of our day. That’s equal to most of our life. We’ve got to find some place where we can love and be loved, and belonged. Then we can perform well, AND enjoy it!

It’s only two years of our life.
But make it worth. Better yet, make the best of it. May success be with us. Amiiiiinnnn.

Dr Liyana Yasmin
Pegawai Perubatan,
Klinik Kesihatan Selising, Pasir Puteh, Kelantan

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