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The Junior Doctor Life

Updated: May 7, 2020

By Namita Anand

Getting into medical school felt more difficult than my time at medical school itself. It’s daunting enough to leave home and start university, but you never actually know what to expect from any course. Your 18-year-old brain does what it wants to do.

Everyone makes medicine sound hard, but I found the content itself quite simple. In fact, it was the sheer amount of knowledge we had to take on, which was the real challenge. I think the only solution to this is making sure you consistently work through the semesters, instead of cramming before exams – but everyone learns that themselves when the time comes (I still haven’t!).

Along with work came the difficulty of navigating life, as an adult and learning to live and work with people from all over the world. I remember my first day, how I felt before my first exam, my first birthday away from home – but what brought the whole experience together were the friends I made. Clinical years were some of my favourite. I loved the opportunity to practice some of the skills, like venepuncture, that you got taught in theory on actual patients for the first time. You are also encouraged to see all the interesting cases and procedures around the hospital, which keeps you motivated through to the end of this long course. It’s difficult watching the majority of your school friends graduating and progressing with life, whilst you feel stuck at university – but you catch up so quickly. I remember talking to final year students in my first few weeks of joining medical school and all of them kept saying how the time goes by so quick, you don’t even realise it – it’s true.

First Wednesday of August is a daunting day for every foundation doctor. It does not matter how prepared you feel, whether you are in a Trust you have worked in before or a new city completely. What you realise soon enough is that everyone is feeling just as scared. I moved to a new city with none of my friends around me and my first rotation was general surgery. There were various challenges, like keeping up with fast-paced ward rounds, making friends with the other FY1s and learning a new system – but it all works out. The job is not difficult, but can be tiring. As a FY1, your job mainly revolves around carrying out the plans from ward round or implementing emergency management for acutely ill patients, prior to further help arriving. This sounds scary and I remember calling my senior for every little concern over my first few shifts. Nevertheless, your confidence increases at an exponential rate and you quickly realise there are several things you can do before the senior arrives. Nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a wealth of knowledge and are the most valuable members of the team. I cannot count the number of times they have helped guide me in difficult situations.

There are days in the job, where you have to deal with difficult news or feel a little out of depth. Nevertheless having a good support system in place is essential to keep yourself well. I am fortunate to have family and friends, who are both happy to listen and advise me when needed. I had doubts, until the night before I started work, whether I picked the right profession. But, even on my worst days, I know I have picked something I absolutely love and is perfect for me.

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