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.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Permanently the doctor on call (apparently!)

Thesis writing while waiting
for my clones to grow... and
not a stethoscope in sight...
Right, that's it.  I am outing Big Sister P.  No amount of ocean has been able to disrupt this one fact: I am her on-call paediatrician.  In fact I'm not always sure she wants to chat and catch up, or just borrow my medical brain in relation to my baby niece... With the assistance of WhatsApp and FaceTime, I have given advice on everything from rashes and medication queries to coughs and vomiting issues.  Folks, I decided long ago that paediatrics was not for me, but it turns out that picking your specialty professionally does not mean everyone else stops treating you like a GP.

... while (dinner) partying Spring
style; dragon fruit and time to put 
another shrimp on the barbie...

I wrote a while ago about the time I was called upon to be all doctor-y on the London Tube last summer, and almost all of my medical friends have some story to share about 'this one time' when they were out running, or on a plane, and someone needed 'A Doctor'.  That's fine.  I think I'm fairly comfortable with the divide of 'this is life threatening' and 'this is probably not' for most clinical specialties. 

But really, where can I draw the line?!  The last time I did paediatrics, obstetrics, ophthalmology or ENT was when I was at medical school.  So I did the on call shifts, helped to deliver a few babies, assisted in a couple of cataract operations and contributed to relieving a few people of their tonsils; I am not an expert.  And yet regularly people ask me 'I know it's not your field, but can I just tell you about this rash...'  In the USA, I am usually saved by the fact that, aged 26, most Americans assume I'm still a medical student, and I'm not going to be that moron that introduces themselves to everyone as 'Dr Purshouse'.  The major exception to accepting my role as a doctor over here is in relation to my fellow foreigners with terrible health insurance.  A friend of mine gave up trying to get a GP to see him after he slipped on the ice and thought he'd fractured a rib; no-one would see him with his insurance, so he ended up asking me.

The shorts are back ON! Hello long lunches
on the grass in the sunshine :)
In Big Sister P's defence, she describes me as The Barometer - i.e. how much should she panic.  Fair enough.  I don't have children and I found it pretty terrifying having sole responsibility over my niece in NYC for one afternoon and evening (new respect for solo parents - the subway plus buggy on your own presents a neat little challenge).  But what if I give the wrong advice?  What if I don't see that rash properly, or do some calculations wrong?  Especially having been out of the clinical game for 7 months now (7 months in the USA! It is just zooooooming by), I am scared enough about going back to clinical work in some competent fashion three months from now without being quizzed about unfamiliar specialties in-between.  Often I feel I'm just stating common sense advice, and almost invariably feel like someone who has had children (like, oh, I don't know, my own mother..!) might be a better bet.  But of course I'll do it, within my own comfort limits - perhaps my niece represents just one person that won't turn up unnecessarily at a GP surgery or A+E, and if we all think about it like that, we might just start addressing the attendance crisis facing these frontline health services.

My weapon of choice
The first opera I ever watched was 'Die Zauberfloete' - 'The Magic Flute'. I guess I was 9 or 10, and my parents will tell you that I thought I'd find it really boring, even bringing a stash of books with me to read (What a brat, eh?!). However, I was completely engrossed and loved it from start to finish. For years to come, whenever a room was redecorated in our house, and it became all lovely and echoey in the absence of carpets or furniture, my mum, sister and I would take it in turns to recreate the Queen of the Night Aria (or more accurately - 'Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen' - hell's wrath boils in my heart - yikes!) - which features one of the highest notes in the soprano vocal range, and therefore we were really little more than squeaking.  My violin duetting partner and I recently laughed til it hurt recreating this in string form.

Moral of the story?  I love singing, and I love singing all kinds of stuff.  But that does not make me an opera singer.  Much like being a doctor does not make me a paediatrician, an obstetrician or an orthopaedic surgeon. So ask away if you must - but please take all advice with a piece of salt.

Perhaps I should start charging a small fee - a friend suggested I should charge by the hour plus the time difference... genius.  Start forming an orderly queue, please.  

No comments:

Post a Comment