Friday, 2 August 2013

Bittersweet #tipsfornewdocs

I have never been a fan of the word 'acceptance', in that particular form, suggesting something completed. I much prefer 'accepting' which gives a hint of an ongoing process. The phrase "acceptance is a journey not a destination" is one I strongly believe. Some days I feel more accepting of my situation that others, and that is just the (bumpy) path of recovery.

Yesterday was one of those days where I found accepting my condition particularly challenging. Having such a health focused twitter feed, I noticed a fair few tweets using the hashtag #tipsfornewdocs and #changeover. We are at that time of year when newly qualified doctors start working as F1s. 

If I had not been ill and had to stop medical school, that would have been me. I would be preparing to don my stethoscope as Dr de Iongh. But illness got in the way. Although many of the tweets were full of advice to cope with the many physical and emotional challenge of being a doctor (try being a patient!!!), and I love my work now, I still felt pangs of jealously and anger. If only I hadn't been ill... 

Giving up medicine and everything that goes with it was an enormous thing - it was hard to make the transition from medical student to patient. I initially thought my GP was being melodramatic when he said that I was grieving for my old lifestyle a year or so ago. But I realise that he was spot on - this is grief. I haven't been grieving every day since, but there are days when something happens - I see a gaggle of young doctors in a hospital or a poignant day passes (such as yesterday) - and all those emotions come flooding back. Luckily, I have some very supportive followers on Twitter, who helped me acknowledge these emotions as ok, but also to look at my situation in a more positive light...

Jodi Brown made an important comment about reflection not being regret - I think there is a thin line, and one I possibly cross too often! I tried this in a recent blog post (Dear Relapse: a letter), which was challenging, although the discussion it generated made me realise that reflecting is easier that looking forward with all the uncertainties of my health, but that is for another time...
After all these wise words, I have decided to change my reaction to the #tipsfornewdocs hashtag. Although I'm not needing the advice personally as a new Dr, I have plenty of advise that I could give my peers!

As a former medical student and current patient, here are my tips for new doctors...

- Treasure the experience! You are very lucky to be there, and don't forget that during the harder times.

- As you begin to become more familiar with the routines and cases, remember that your patients are not on that journey with you. Our concepts of routine are very different. Check out my blog on Student Lancet on this topic.

- I know how hard you have worked for the last five or six years to learn all that pathology, pharmacology and physiology, and it is important, but it is not enough. The biopsychosocial model you learnt about all those years ago isn't just a theoretical model, it lives day in day out in all your patients.

- Although you are busy, and will attend thousands of outpatient appointments each year, your patients don't, and the experience is very different for them. This is the anatomy of an appointment for patients.

- Let us help you! We are more than happy to share the knowledge about our conditions to help you help others in the future.

UPDATED....
When I tweeted about this blog post, I asked what other advice patients would give new Doctors, and here are some of the responses. 


Good Luck to everyone starting Doctoring this week!

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