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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.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Doctors Fail Stuff Too

Hello, blog pals!

Apologies for my absence from the blog world.  It turns out full-time clinical medicine and blog writing on a regular basis are not wholly compatible.  Plus, to be honest, it's been rather a depressing few months, hasn't it? Junior doctor strikes, Brexit, the implosion of any sort of political sanity...  Every time I tried to write something I just had to stop - it felt like I was adding to the country-wide exasperation.

But in all situations one should try to see the positive, right?  Another year, another flurry of bright-eyed, bushy tailed new junior doctors have just started their working lives on the oh-so-optimistically-named Black Wednesday.  Working over the change over days of new doctors is always a good time to be re-energised by fresh enthusiasm, and I guess also realise just how far you've come in the last few years.

But one probably learns more from failure than success - I failed the first thing I've fully failed since 18-year-old Karin failed her driving test - I failed my final exam for my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians (PACES, for those familiar with the lingo) by a big fat... 2 points.  Not surprised, but also interesting to observe and understand my own response to failure.  The main challenge has been managing others' expectations (weirdly not my parents/family's, but those of my friends!), and of course a little smoothing over of one's pride.

I share this largely because doctors SUCK at talking about failure.  Certainly people seem to look at me and seem to think it's something to which I'm immune.  The worst thing about failing is actually the thought of doing it all over again - the revision around a full time job, saying no to seeing friends and family (I've seen my parents twice in the last 6 months - TWICE! - and they live barely an hour and a half away!), the tension and nerves of the exam waiting area, the money (altogether it cost me about £2000 to sit, as will the resit..!)...

If that's the worst thing that's happening in my life right now though (and it really isn't that bad!) then frankly, I think I'm doing pretty well.  It may not be the last time I fail it, and I need to be ready for that possibility too.  I'm back in the lab for a year which is hugely exciting - I'll miss patients a lot but frankly after working at least 1 in 4 weekends plus evenings/nights on call for a year, I'm looking forward to being a little less sleep deprived.  The NHS is a rather tense, over-stretched place to be at the moment, and I think it's safe to say that many of my NHS friends and colleagues are feeling at something of a crossroads.  To come back to the lab feels a bit like returning to a land of optimism and excitement.

Optimism and excitement is also fully present in 'life' in general.  I've hopefully just moved house for the last time for the next couple of years, and nest-building is just pretty darn wonderful.  The 'woah-there-it's-actually-summer' weather means life is being lived outside as much as possible - from slothing to swimming, blackberry picking to bicycle rides - who knew we could genuinely achieve al fresco dining with such regularity in the UK!

So there we go.  I, Karin Purshouse, failed an exam.  But it's really not so bad.  I feel reasonably reassured that I'm still an OK doctor.  I'm just going to try and convert that into a decent cancer scientist for the next 12 months...

A li'l bit of the North East coastline earlier in the summer