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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Mental Health Begins With Medical Students

Every few months, the mental health of doctors/medical students makes it to popular media. It seems like these spikes in attention occur, and everyone shouts YOU SHOULD CARE FOR YOUR DOCTORS! and then we write blogs and we tweet and we make youtube videos and eventually we go back to work, and nothing has changed.

I think we are the missing link. And by “we”, I mean qualified doctors. And also, you, the older doctors. Continue reading “Mental Health Begins With Medical Students”

My Evolving Opinions About Doctors’ Working Hours

I started working on this post two days ago. Since then, I have received news of a colleague who died in an accident while driving post-call. She went to my alma mater and graduated last year, and though I did not know her personally, my heart breaks. A country with a shortage of doctors has lost a young doctor who was just starting in her career. She was well-loved, and we will all feel her absence.

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 * * * Continue reading “My Evolving Opinions About Doctors’ Working Hours”

Threatened By The People We Serve

A few weeks ago, the community around one of the hospitals where I work picked up their torches and pitchforks (well, sort of) and protested again. I’ve written before about South Africa’s protest state of mind, and about working during a riot.

As it stands, when this specific community protests, they protest right outside the hospital. No matter the reason for protesting, they block all entrances to the hospital and threaten anybody who tries to circumvent them.

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Police told us to turn around. We called our superiors. They told us to come to work. Continue reading “Threatened By The People We Serve”

Open Letter to South African Private GPs*

Dear South African Private GPs,

Colleagues.

I want to tell you today that I am tired.

I’m sure you are tired too, but I want to tell you that, at least in part, you are contributing to my exhaustion – and that of my fellow interns. Continue reading “Open Letter to South African Private GPs*”

Unrealistic YA Fiction Is Not Such A Big Problem

Young Adult fiction treads a fine line. On the one hand, it needs to be in touch with its audience. YA readers want to see protagonists who speak realistically, eat realistically, and act realistically.

On the other hand, reading offers us the opportunity to live different lives; to travel to places and settings and adventures that we may never have, and very few people want to read about a normal, boring setting. (Although I am told that Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here addresses this very well, I’ve not yet read it.)

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Not the topic for this discussion, but I do want to read this book.

Continue reading “Unrealistic YA Fiction Is Not Such A Big Problem”

Patients Don’t Want Exhausted Doctors

Before you read what I have to say, you should read Dr Nikki Stamp’s post: How tired is too tired?

One day, I’d like to have a study to prove the post title. But for now, we’ll have to settle for another anecdote:

tired doctor Continue reading “Patients Don’t Want Exhausted Doctors”