I hate platitudes. I hate when people say, “You can get through anything if you have the right attitude”. It negates the fact that sometimes, circumstances are atrocious. It puts the onus on people to grin and bear it, instead of on the system to change.
I’m not saying I’ve changed my mind, but I noticed something recently. I’ve met two community service doctors who were both placed in departments where they REALLY did not want to be. The nature of your community service year is that you get placed where you are needed and not necessarily where you want to be.
I observed them both for extended periods as we worked together. They were working in the same bad conditions, with the same juniors and seniors, with the same resources available.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. The one always greeted everyone with a smile. We all enjoyed working with this person. They were a pleasure in an otherwise dire situation. This is not to say that they never got angry with rude staff or non-compliant patients. It’s not to say that they never cussed. It’s not to say they were always a rainbow-pooping unicorn. But they did their best to contribute meaningfully to the team. And patients liked them, too.
The other walked in on day one declaring that they never wanted to be in said department. It was pretty clear that they had resolved to hate their year.They were a little thunder cloud who made the interns nervous and the registrars gossip. They caused tension where they went. Actually, I felt more sorry for this person than for myself, some days. It was so clear that they were unhappy. They tried to swap to another department, without success. They were – and still are – miserable, and I feel sorry that it’s not even halfway through their ComServe year yet.
So anyway. I still hate platitudes. But I think sometimes, having a good attitude can help a little when you need that extra push to get through a bad patch. Sometimes we have to stop wallowing and recognise the mud for what it is.