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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.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Changeover day!

I am totally shattered, but like all junior doctors up and down the country, it's the first Wednesday of August which can mean only one thing - changeover day!

This time last year, I was a bright eyed, newly qualified doc who got really freaked out when someone called out 'Doctor!' and I realised that it was me they were looking at to solve the problem they had.  One year on, I still get a bit freaked out about the fact I'm a doctor, but I hope a little more calm and finesse has entered my game.

But if you get a slightly baggy-eyed Karin coming towards you in hospital, it's probably because I'm not that bright-eyed version of Karin I was twelve months ago. I was on call three times last week, as well as working the other two days. I was at work all weekend. I worked a normal if horrifically busy Monday before doing another 12 and a bit hours on call today. Then.... I moved house, along with all my other doctor buddies. I've been living out of a rucksack for 3 weeks in between house rents, and today moved out proper into my new digs. But that was nothing compared to my friends who finished their shifts and are moving locations completely overnight - the house I was moving out of had two of us moving out and two people moving in, three of us doing so at 11 at night. Most of us have to be at our new jobs between 7-8am tomorrow morning.

But this isn't meant to be a whine.  It was just quite surreal to work for so long, get home late, eat dinner and then say - 'Right - let's move house!'.

I've scribbled in a couple of places about tips for junior doctors, advice on the first day etc.... My top three tips:
1) Eat lunch. And drink water. This is not optional. You can check bloods while eating if necessary.

2) Ask for help. There are no stupid questions for at least 2 months, and actually not even after that. I ask lots of stupid questions, but I'd rather look stupid and know for next time.

3) Make friends, have some laughs and generally get a team going with your fellow doctors, nurses, pharmacists, ward clerks etc. It's the joy of the job and it will make everyone's job easier and more fun.

For me, it was emotional to the last working on the cancer ward. I got my first personalised card; I nearly cried when I was given it!  It is so true that while you don't do the job to get any thanks, and certainly not on a cancer ward where the courage of everyone around you (patients, family, staff) is just overwhelming, it is just so special to think that you might have actually done your job well and had such a personal connection with a person and their family.

Everything I'm about to say is a cliche, but really, the last few months of working on that ward, in combination with losing my friends in January, have made me feel more full of love for life than I could have imagined.  So my actual biggest tip for new doctors? Try and focus on how bloody lucky we are to do a job that has the scope to make some kind of difference to someone's life. 

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