This is who you're reading about

My photo
Wilkommen to my blog - my name is Karin Purshouse, and I'm a doctor in the UK. If you're looking for ramblings on life as a junior doctor, my attempts to dual-moonlight as a scientist and balancing all that madness with a life, you've come to the right place. I'm currently a doctor/research trainee in oncology after spending a year doing research in the USA. All original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

First Days as a Junior Doctor

As you may have gathered, my full time job is not, sadly, as a Open Access advocate, but my passion to campaign for Open Access is driven by what my actual (new) job is, as a junior doctor.  Three days in, and we're still smiling (just!)!

I think the main lesson I've learned is this: when in doubt, phone switchboard.  Because I think almost universally, all new doctors and I have agreed that what makes the first few days tough is organisation, or lack thereof.

Day one started off well.  I'd done some shadowing the week before, but really it was the final day of shadowing that gave me the truest flavour of what was to come.  My predecessor did his best to tell me how to make various things happen and generously said I should contact him if I had any queries, however big or small.  So when day one kicked off, I was buoyed by a feeling of 'this is going to be painful, but I'm as ready as I'll ever be'.  A few hours later, an inevitable few tears were shed - my list of things to do seemed too huge to contemplate, and many of them I was unsure how to make happen (referrals, ordering investigations, that sort of thing).  Nothing life threatening obviously, but enough to make you feel wholly inadequate!  At medical school, I had deliberately committed a lot of time in the early run up to finals getting slick at these sort of jobs, but ultimately systems differ everywhere.  You wouldn't believe how many different ways there are to write a discharge summary.

Last ones out of the hospital!
By the end of the week though, I think I was a bit more on top of things.  This is where my 'call switchboard' mantra was born.  Well, not just switchboard.  Asking for help is fortunately not something I'm embarrassed to do, and those around me have been amazing at answering questions big and small, complex and simple, and coming to help when I need it.  The challenge really is organisation, because inevitably someone will get sick, or relatives will appear who want to to have a discussion, or something else will disrupt your to-do list, and you have to be ready to deal with it without forgetting the rest of your tasks.

Most of all I am grateful to the team I'm working in - the porters, the domestic staff, the physios and OTs, the nurses, the other doctors - all of whom have had a brief smile and conversation to share as we work together and make me feel like I do belong there, even if I'm still learning.

There will be more long, long days ahead, and many more moments of uncertainty, but nothing beats that doctor-patient interaction for me.  Whenever I've been stressed or scared, it's only taken a brief moment with a worried patient for me to know that I'm exactly where I want to be.  Cheesy, but true.