Saturday, November 24, 2012

We Must Continue

Next week is my last as a medical student in the hospital. When I return in January, I will do so as an intern. How time flies right by. It will be an opportunity to make new friends and work alongside colleagues. Once again, we will all be going from the most senior people in the chain to the weakest link in the chain. Although we keep getting assured by senior staff that interns are the backbone of any medical or surgical team, I can't help but feel the role will not be as fulfilling as one would expect after finishing years of study. I also feel that although the role may not be "the weakest link" (if there is such a thing), I may not perform adequately to meet expectations. 

Why am I not excited? Why don't I feel all nostalgic while some of my friends have been counting increments of how much of a fraction of a doctor we all have been up until this point? Why can I not smile about it?

I look beyond internship and notice the people around. I've said how much in love I've been with general surgery, but now I have my doubts. Does that cripple me? No. It's reassuring and somewhat refreshing to know I don't have to pressure myself to do what it is I've loved in the past based on but a few months of time in the operating theatres. But then again, I haven't stepped foot as an assistant in an operating theatre for quite some time now. 

Maybe it's delayed gratification. The people around me seem to be doing so well. I've got dreams like everyone else; but unlike some people, they seem to remain as dreams. 

I bought myself a car less than two weeks ago: my gift to myself for all the years of 2-3 jobs and university studies. I was so excited and so happy but now, I feel like I don't deserve it. What have I done? Should I have saved the money for a house or a share portfolio? Perhaps a holiday? It's the largest loan I've taken out for myself and it'll take me at least 3-4 years to pay it off. It also puts even more pressure on me doing extra hours next year.

Somehow I've set myself up to work like a dog, more so than I've ever done. My weekend job's boss contacted me to work 7 days a week before the Christmas break, which I agreed to and they have also asked me to stay on as a relief on-call person should the need arise for support on the weekends, so long as it does not conflict with my responsibilities as an intern next year. So the potential of two jobs will still be on the debating table. Not to mention the lecturing will continue and I have no idea how medical administration will react to all these "extra-commitments". At the same time, will I be able to cope? 

Then there's that problem about whether the masters of surgery coursework is a good idea. I want to do it so I have something under my belt other than a medical degree, which these days is inadequate on its own in a worthy application for specialist training. 

There's so much stress and I'm not sure what I should be feeling. My girlfriend and I have organised an overseas trip for 12 days during the new year period and I'll be back a week before I start work. I'm stressed about whether I'll have my life organised in a week. I'm worried about the trip; whether it will go smoothly or not. I'm afraid of flying. 

Maybe I'm just having a bad run. I feel sick and I can't sleep. I just need to breathe and focus on one problem at a time. 

One at a time. 


  1. I'm not an intern, and I don't play one on TV, but I think you need to learn to say 'no'. You already sound at serious risk of burning out. No wonder you're feeling anxious about internship, if you're planning to try to carry two other jobs at the same time!

    I would suggest that you tell your current job that you can only work 5 days a week, and tell them that no, you can't be on call to work overtime next year. You'll be working plenty just with internship (and I really doubt that medical admin will be accommodating of extra work commitments). Where would you be lecturing? On campus? I honestly don't think that's likely to be tenable either... And I'd urge you to consider waiting at least 6 months before starting a Masters, especially if you're not sure about surgery right now.

    I hope your holiday is refreshing and relaxing. It sounds like you really need one.

  2. Please tell me you are not seriously considering the second job. Please.

    Internship will be hectic enough as it is. You need you-time, for your own health and sanity, and for your relationship. You really don't need study or other work on top of that. Not to mention, it is in our contract that you need NSW Health permission if you want to moonlight, and they don't look on it kindly.

    Honestly, I'm concerned. You say you worry about the potential for you to be the weakest link - I think you're going to make a better doctor than you realise. But, if you are too tired, over-worked, and not thinking straight, that's when you are going to start making mistakes. I'm worried that you are not going to look after yourself, and you may then burn out. And that is not great for you, and not great for patients.

    Please stop running from yourself.

    Also, re the 7 days a week leading up to Christmas - is that actually legal in this country? I thought you could only work x number of days before you HAD to have a day off...