Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Grey Wednesday?

Tomorrow is “Black Wednesday”, the day when all the brand new doctors start. I should be terrified, but I’m not – tomorrow I have an all-day induction. I may be on call for two hours after the induction, but with at least one other new doctor and the evening on calls seem fairly quiet anyway.

On the one hand, a comprehensive induction is great. On the other hand, it’s just delaying the nervousness until tomorrow evening. I feel like I’m missing out on something – spending the evening with other new F1 doctors, who don’t have induction and therefore tomorrow is their first dose of responsibility and first real opportunity to accidentally kill someone, there was a sense of nervous, slightly excited anticipation. I don’t really have that. Partly because I’m not really starting tomorrow, and partly because in gynae, we’re not really trusted with being allowed to do that much, most things have to be approved by a senior. There is a great deal of discharge summary writing. But, it’s a very nice way to ease into the job.

We realised that we’ll never have this feeling ever again. Never again will we be brand new terrified doctors. Whenever we start a new job in the future, it will just be the next thing, not the whole big new thing. Never again will we be not-quite-doctors and then suddenly actual doctors. One of my new flatmates said she wanted to savour this feeling forever, this moment to last forever, and I wouldn’t quite go that far, but it is an interesting time.

So for me, tomorrow is perhaps Grey Wednesday. For all those new F1s for whom it really is Black Wednesday, good luck, don’t be scared, and remember to breathe. For anyone who has the misfortune to fall ill tomorrow, or in the next week, I honestly wish you the very best of luck, though hope with all my heart that you don’t need it.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Service update

I've just moved house - it was essential for the job. I don't yet have internet or recently, much time, so although I've got a few posts in my head relating to shadowing week, I won't get them all up before shadowing week ends and proper scary actual doctor work begins.

I'll probably play around with the scheduling settings, but please ignore if the posts seem out of sync - that is why. I hope it will be clear.

Me and my shadow...

This week is compulsory shadowing week, where we learn how to do the job before we have the terrifying responsibility of doing it. Theoretically, it should reduce the mortality rate on “Black Wednesday” – the first Wednesday of August, when every brand new junior doctor (F1, or foundation year 1 doctor) across the country starts working. Our lack of experience is, apparently, evident in the number of patients who die on those first few days, compared with the rest of the year.

I wasn’t particularly nervous before the start of shadowing week. I feel like I should have been, meeting all those new people, starting a new job, even if the actual responsibility isn’t added in for another week. But I’d had no time for nerves – I was at camp, far too busy having Serious Fun to worry about suddenly being a doctor. For anyone who is likely to be nervous about starting F1, or any other scary job, I’d definitely recommend doing something amazing before starting, partly to take your mind off it, and partly to remind yourself that there are more important things in the world (like campers) than work.

Shadowing week is interesting in that we’re not actually allowed to do anything. Anything that involves procedures, signatures (our own, rather than hassling someone else for one – will make a nice change!), or even almost touching a patient. It’s bizarre, for this one week in which we’re all qualified and about to do the job, we’re allowed to do a lot less than we were a few weeks ago as medical students. We’ve signed to confirm this, but as usual not everybody sticks to it. Some new F1s have a “never mind that” approach. I’m a little more cautious – we’re not allowed to do anything because we’re not insured to, apparently, and wouldn’t necessarily be covered for a needlestick injury. I’d rather not have one of those (touch wood) but if I did, I’d like to be properly covered for it and get the post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP*) as required.

So really nothing much has happened during shadowing week. I’ve learnt a bit and sat through lots of “this is how we do things here” lectures, but I imagine most of the learning will be on the job. Which is a bit terrifying.

* PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is the term for a 28-day supply of anti-retroviral drugs to prevent you contracting HIV if you might have been exposed to it, for example through a needlestick injury. It’s not just for doctors and medical staff, however, anyone who could have been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex (with someone of a high risk group), needle sharing etc, can receive PEP from A&E or some genito-urinary medicine/sexual health departments, if you go there within 72 hours of exposure. It’s an unpleasant 28 days as the drugs have numerous side effects, but it’s better than a life of HIV, even if that does mean a chronic disease rather than a death sentence these days. And it’s only a chronic disease if you know about it – undetected and untreated it could very possibly be a death sentence, so get tested!!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Another obligatory introductory post

Hello, I'm trying to be a very junior doctor. I've just finished five years of medical school with two extra years (the scenic route), and for the last nearly two years I've been Trying to be a medical student. However that's no longer an appropriate blog title, since I'm no longer a medical student... so welcome to Trying to be a junior doctor.

It's called this because years ago my younger sister (about whom I blog now and then) said told someone I was "trying to be a doctor" when she meant training to be a doctor. It's kind of stuck. And of course, because I am a junior doctor, and I can’t do that without trying. I’m hoping that sometimes I’ll succeed, but even when I don’t, I’ll still be trying (hard) to be a good junior doctor.

So here's where I'll blog about any struggles and more interesting aspects of life as a (very) junior doctor, and anything particularly interesting about the National Health Service, hospitals, patient care and research.

I also like to blog about other things that might be interesting and are relevant to me - there's more to me than just medicine! This might include: feminism and gender, autism, disability and my sister, maybe politics, my other half (who is NOT a medic!) and the newly long-distance relationship, and potentially anything else that takes my interest, in addition to the medical side of things.

I may yet make occasional posts over at Trying to be a medical student, if anything particularly student-related comes up. I’ve got a few revision course reviews and textbook reviews that have a been a long time coming, and the student blog is probably the best place for them.

As before, I blog anonymously, and will publish a separate post explaining this (link to follow). I therefore don’t write about the exact place that I’m working, other than that it’s in England, or the medical school that I trained at, which was also in England. That’s all you’re getting!

I have no intention of becoming a whistle-blower, or of highlighting problems. I just blog about what I do and what I see and my thoughts about it all.

I fully anticipate that the next few weeks and months of being a very junior doctor will be challenging and trying, so bear with me. Welcome to the blog, and do have a read of the previous blog if you haven’t already.