The Threat of Funemployment

In final year, we thought that getting an internship post at our desired hospital was the hardest – and most coveted – thing.

Two years later, we all tried to find a community service posting that would give us a foot into the door to our future specialties.

But we didn’t know that those were the easy parts. Then, we still pretty much had guaranteed employment (most of us, at least).

Then came the end of Community Service, and reality hit us in the face: we were on our own.

* * *

That’s where I am now. The government no longer “owes” me a job, and unless I find one, I’ll be unemployed come January 2018. People used to say, “There’s no such thing as an unemployed doctor.” These days, there are plenty of them, because freezing posts is a done thing.

Applying for my first post-comserve job is a bit like the whole “what do I want to do when I grow up” crisis all over again. Because I want to work with children, but how many paediatrics posts are available? Not many. And paeds has seen an upsurge in popularity, so the available posts are highly sought-after.

So what other jobs would I like to do? Jobs that could teach me something before I go back to working with children. But if something happens and I end up stuck in that job for a long time, will I be okay with it?

Looking for a job is an exercise in self-reproach. Why didn’t I do more courses this year? Why didn’t I write that diploma? Why didn’t I participate in more research? Why didn’t I suck up a little more, make sure people knew my name? Look at what everyone else has achieved. Why haven’t I?

It’s an opportunity to be kind to myself. I’ve had a big year.

I started therapy and finally found the right combination of meds.

I ended a long-term relationship.

I stayed on my own for the first time. The past few years were just adulting-lite. This year I had to learn the real art of adulting.

I finally started making friends.

As I explored this new city, I also explored myself.

I found parts that I hate. I found parts that I love.

I stepped out of my comfort zone, and as usual, it was rewarding.

Finding a post-comserve job is probably the scariest part of my medical career so far. I know I must not compare myself to others, but I also know that an interview panel will do exactly that. (By the way, I screwed up my most important interview. I got total stage-fright.)

This is also a time of great promise. It reminds me of everything I can do with this degree. It reminds me that I can stretch my wings. It reminds me that I am not captive. I am free.

 * * *

Sorry if you came here looking for some inspiration. I had to type because my nails were already bitten to the quick. Find me a job, and maybe I’ll be able to get back to the usual stuff.

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Doctors and Piercings: Part 3

It’s been nearly five years since I decided to get a nose piercing. I mused about the decision on the blog both before and after the fact.

Since becoming a “real” doctor, I’ve never had a patient refer to my piercing. As mentioned before, it really isn’t that conspicuous. I’ve also noticed more and more doctors who have nose piercings, so it probably isn’t so strange in South African healthcare workers as it was in 2011.

This year, after working with a certain doctor for three months, he finally noticed the piercing. His response was, “Well that’s atypical,” then he laughed and we moved on with our ward round.

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You can see it, but just barely.

I removed my nose jewellery recently, and in many ways that decision was as difficult as getting it in the first place. Continue reading “Doctors and Piercings: Part 3”

If You Plan To Spend Mandela Day At A Hospital…

Although I believe that community service should be a habit rather than an annual event, I am a big fan of Mandela Day. I’m a child of the 90s, after all, and my first hero was Nelson Mandela. There’s nothing quite like a day where the whole nation reaches out to one another to build morale. (And it’s not just for South Africans!)

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Public hospitals are a popular venue for community service, which is not entirely a bad thing because many of our patients truly fit the description of being disenfranchised.

But every year, my colleagues and I find ourselves a little annoyed by many of the people who arrive to do their bit. Here are some pointers if you intend to visit a hospital this Mandela Day – or any other day. Continue reading “If You Plan To Spend Mandela Day At A Hospital…”

Ten Reasons I Love Audiobooks

I’m linking up with The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesdays for “Ten Reasons I Love [X]”. Join up, link up, click through and see what everyone else loves, and why!

I only started listening to audiobooks two years ago. I’m pretty easy-going when it comes to books: while print will always be my first love, I’m not the type to scorn ebooks and audiobooks. Reading is reading, and I love it! That said, there are some reasons I have grown fond of audiobooks:

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Art by Philip Tseng (click)

1. It’s a bonding experience for my dad and me

Continue reading “Ten Reasons I Love Audiobooks”

The Nicest Interns: Part 2

I just recently finished a four-month Family Medicine rotation. Our after-hours duties on Family  Medicine are as casualty officers at the Accident and Emergency Departments of two different hospitals. Because A&E has high-intensity decision making, our shifts were not allowed to be longer than twelve hours (compare: 24 hour shifts in any other department).

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Continue reading “The Nicest Interns: Part 2”

The Nicest Interns: Part 1

It’s so easy to complain about my daily work. Annoying patients, a system that is falling apart a little more every day, and inconsiderate or lazy doctors and nurses  <– you see?

And then there are some of my colleagues who just really make me want to be a better person – and a better doctor.

One of our intern-colleagues is well-loved for being a bundle of fun and kindness. Whatever event our hospital’s social committee organises: he’s there, and he is their biggest promoter. He introduces people to each other, and he encourages them to get out of their shell.

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Then there was that one time he walked around casualty on Easter Weekend dressed as the Easter Bunny, handing out goodies to all the interns on-call.

How nice is that?!?!?!

When he has a calm call-duty, he walks around and helps the services that are having a rougher time of it.

Written down, it may seem like he is the biggest gunner or kiss-ass. But he is just so genuine that it does not seem to get on anybody’s nerves (not even my very flammable ones).

I’m by far not a lazy or a mean intern, but when I see people like this guy, I just think: wow. I want to be like that when I grow up.