Housemanship Experience – Part One

I’ve finally completed my third posting of my housemanship. It’s quite amazing to look back and contemplate the journey I’ve been through.

So you might ask, hey, how it’s like being a houseman? Well, I’ll try my best to summarise my experience working here for the past 1 year.

Obstetrics and gynaecology

I started off in O&G. Anybody who’s done O&G as their first posting will tell you that it’s a killer department and many got extended. Imagine being new to this whole field, not knowing how to function and suddenly you’re handling not just one but two lives (the baby and the mother). In the first week I dreaded going to work everyday, and sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweat, heart racing, frantically trying to remember where I was.

The palpitations were the worst. It’s just sort of a background noise, the subtle sense that something is wrong, and I’d be nervously thinking what did I miss during the day. Truth be told, I broke down within 2 weeks of tagging and seriously considered quitting. But I couldn’t quit, so I soldiered on with the support of my family.

I’ve had my fair share of screaming, scolding, berating from the medical officers. Granted, they were trying to hammer the finer art of OBGYN into me. But it’s definitely not a good feeling when you get shouted profanities at by your medical officer, or being chased out from the cubicle for not being able to write entries in the case notes. I was so clueless back then. One also had to learn through errors and mistakes especially when it comes to assisting the surgeon in the operating theatre. They don’t teach you that in medical school.

Oh AND to top it off, there’s the KKM logbook to fill and our hospital’s O&G department required us to perform a caesarean section under supervision in order to pass the posting. So yeah. Definitely was interesting, but nerve-wrecking.

Miraculously I survived.

Medical

So off I went to my second posting. Medical department is where one learns the art of managing basic medical conditions with the hope that housemen would be able to handle patients safely once they’re on their own, or at least that’s the hope. Truth be told I was still pretty clueless and I didn’t know why certain things were done that way or why certain investigations were ordered. In hindsight, I should’ve asked more.

It was a very hectic department with seemingly endless joblist, and you’d be so busy doing the tasks that there’s not much time left to actually learn how to manage patients. Time were mostly spent doing mundane things like drawing blood, sending bloods, tracing said blood results, requesting imaging like ultrasound, referring cases for interdepartmental consults and so on.

All this probably led to me being more efficient in prioritising importance of tasks and forced me to manage time well. Plus, MO’s are very nice in general, so though the workload is high, it wasn’t that stressful, unless when you’re oncall at night and things could go wrong, which it did in my case. That’s story for another time.

Orthopaedics

Orthopaedics is supposed to be a way more relaxed department, or so everyone says. It was, in a way, except for the fact that we have a slightly, erm, stricter HOD and things can get tense during morning handovers.

Otherwise, there’s actually less joblists to do in the wards, and we get rotated to the emergency department to handle all new orthopaedics referrals. That means having the chance to play around with plaster of paris, applying casts or backslabs ourselves and getting the chance to do manual reduction of fractures in the ETD. For those who are more keen to do things with their hands, orthopaedics would be a very nice place.

By this point in time, third posters were expected to be more functional, and of course you’d get screwed badly too if things don’t go smoothly in the wards. That being said, by the third posting everyone who’s still surviving HOship would’ve developed a unique ability to remain poker-faced, nodding and apologising robotically despite the most vicious remarks by the superiors.

Oh and of course you’d have the chance to enter OT again and assist in some interesting surgeries.

Final thoughts

When I first started HOship, I never expected it to be this tough. I pushed on anyway, and time passed by so quickly and before I know it, one year has already passed. I now look forward to the day I finish my housemanship and being a little less clueless, a little less dangerous and a little bit more useful to those I serve around me.

Click here to read part 2!