After 2 gruelling years, I have finally completed my compulsory house officer training.
Anyone who has been through it would tell pretty much the same things – shitty working hours, exhausting workload, toxic environment – sometimes to the point of annoying those who are not in this field.
“Yeah yeah we get it. You have been through hell, bla bla bla. What else is new?”
Well before I get into that, let me recount my experience from my last 3 posting. (Click here to read my experience from the first 3 rotations)
Surgery was one of the toughest posting for me in terms of workload. Back then there was no off days, so that means puny HOs have to work continuosly without break for 4 months, with only a weekend pass in between (or was it 2? I can’t remember).
Oncalls were terrible affairs as you’d have to work 30 hours, and if you were placed in one of the surgical subspecialties, it stretches to 36 hours straight. I had the pleasure of doing back to back calls for a week, which meant that the only time I went home was every other day just to shower and sleep.
I had no idea how I did it back then.
The only time I enjoyed myself was during my rotation in urology. Bosses were nice there. Other than that, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to step into the operating theatre anymore.
Ah, the dreaded department. The one that invokes a sense of impending doom in the hearts of every puny HO.
To be honest, I quite liked the rotation in paediatrics. I guess it was because it being the 5th rotation, everyone from my batch went into the posting together. So that means friends whom you could count on, and in housemanship, teamwork means everything.
I started off in the nursery, then the general wards, then came the rotation in paediatrics intensive care unit, and finally paeds oncology. Paediatrics was the one department where they hammer the sense of carefulness into you everyday. You have to pay attention to every single tiny little thing. You are dealing with tiny little humans after all. A simple mistake can cost lives.
I was fortunate enough to have had the chance of working under some of the smartest and most dedicated people in paediatrics. My time in PICU was spent just trying to not make any mistakes and trying not to shit my pants as I cower in fear in the shadow of the famous consultant there.
That being said, paediatrics was the one posting that thought me the value of perseverance. It was where I saw first-hand the true meaning of doctors being healers. It was where I saw miracles happen.
Emergency & Trauma
Ah, ED. The jungle.
The chaos in ED would make anyone rip their hair out in frustration. Luckily I went into the department together my batchmates as well, and like I said, teamwork is everything.
I would say I learned the most in this department. It is where one get to integrate everything they’ve learned in previous departments and apply it in real life, and sometimes in hair-raising situations. I’ve lost count the number of CPRs I’ve participated in.
The hours are long and the work is exhausting. Add to that the various shenanigans one has to put up with people who treat the ED as their personal pharmacy/free medical consultation clinic, it’s easy to hate the place. Yet strangely I found comfort in the chaos.
In short, ED was fun, and it was over in a blink of an eye.
Finally it was over
My last night shift in ED was a relatively peaceful one. And before I knew it, 2 years of hell was over.
To be honest, it didn’t feel as liberating as I thought it would be. With the completion of housemanship, one becomes a medical officer, and that actually is the scary part.
There’s no one to breathe down your neck anymore, yes, but you’ll have to start being the one who makes decisions that will impact another human being directly. The responsibility is tremendous.
I just hope that when the time comes, I’ll be able to make the right decisions to the best of my ability.