Sunday, June 1, 2014


Working 24+7

So the last time I blogged which was about a month ago was when I cribbed about having to move against my will to one of the largest hospitals in the country, far away from my hometown and to abandon my old department which to tell the truth was my own personal piece of heaven based on my vision of how medicine should be practiced as I had over the years molded it with my sweat as a top-class surgery department beyond its financial limitations. The change was painful as everyone knows and not least because it was all so unexpected. And so after a month or so of working at my new department and facing the ragging every newbie gets from entrenched old fossils who have spent all their time polishing chairs with their backsides I am now in a better frame of mind to start blogging again. 

Firstly the positives, I get to treat a lot more patients than I did at my old workplace. The fact that my new hospital is the only large hospital for quite a few districts around town means we get a lot of referral patients from everywhere around a 200km range. And other patients do drop in off their own volition as the reputation of the hospital is such that they believe miracles from the doctors here. Which is a bit surprising considering that the majority of the doctors here are tenured people and like typical tenure track professors – once they have got a guaranteed job till retirement they don’t give a damn about patients are anyone else. The bulk of the work of course falls on the various students here, of whom there are masses and masses doing every kind of course-degrees and diplomas and to tell the truth the students are more than upto it as they realize that this is the only place they can get hands on training and experience which can stand them in good stead throughout their lives and they will be thankful for when they are practicing alone in some little town by themselves. As a corollary I get to guide and discuss and treat all these patients with interesting complaints that the students bring to me for help. Which acts a rapid review refresher course for me as I am now getting to treat a lot of weird disease which defy diagnosis at first glance. Of course, I miss dealing with the kids as I used to do in my old hospital. But still its far easier to treat adults who know what they have and when they got it- no more working my guess-work and intuition and hoping for the best.

My work day starts at 7Am and goes on till 4PM most days of the week. And to top it off the old fogies who don’t like enthusiastic youngsters like me crashing their relaxation spots have managed to fob off all sorts of extra duties on me citing my most junior status. So every Wednesday I am on EC duty- emergency duty/casualty duty (what the Americans call ER) where I check in at 7AM on Wednesday morning and get to leave by 2PM on Thursday afternoon- a total working period of 24hours+7hours. Talk about a new test of endurance- I now get to work 24+7 once every week which come to think of it is still a lot less than people who work 24/7hours all days of the week. So I guess I am better off than them, right? Besides I get to take the whole day off on Friday as a Post-duty off day. And then come back to work only on Saturday. Of course I also have been posted on Sunday duty for this month- which means that I check in on Sunday morning at 7AM and then leave on Monday by 2PM which means I get Tuesday’s off duty as a weekly-off. So all in all it’s a pretty weird work week for me- when I am on, I am on for a long time and then I get to sleep for a long time in compensation. 

The days I am on emergency duty are some of the toughest I have had since my PG days – an unending stream of cranky patients who demand instant treatment for the mildest of conditions and wasting the doctors time, energy and concentration which would be better spent on patients with real emergencies. But what can we do? It’s a rule of every government hospital to treat the hypochondriacs and time wasters with the same standard of care reserved for genuine life and death cases. So the ones with hangovers and tension headaches who turn up at 3AM or 4Am suck up what little energy I retain after working all day and well into the night. What this does to my alertness and concentration and general capacity for thinking on my feet and managing complicated patients I leave to your imagination. All I say is if ever you are intending to get into a big mash-up and end up in the emergency room, please don’t do it on a Wednesday night and for god’s sake don’t do it on early morning Thursday- you will get a zombie doctor on the verge of collapse from exhaustion to manage your complaints, ok?

So all this nonstop work has had a big beneficial effect on me and I have lost, wait-for-it, 4 kilos over the last month despite my sedentary lifestyle- sitting down in one place and writing prescriptions all day. Guess its all the late nights and stress of dealing with snarky and sneaky colleagues. So alls well that ends well right? If I keep on losing weight at the rate of 3-4kilos a month then by 6 months time I would end up a slim and svelte figure, wont i? cheers to my newest weight loss program- work, work and more work and throw in a little mental torture from time to time. Well, I got to push off now- cant keep postponing the mountain of test reports I have to read and sign before tomorrow morning. More next time when I get the time to blog again.

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