Tips for New Interns: First Week at Work

Last night I worked my last shift for Community Service. 1 January 2018 will mark three years since I walked into my first day of work. And on that day, more than 1,000 new interns will enter our workforce.

I remember the nerves the night before: being unable to sleep. Feeling like a fraud, like I had been allowed to graduate by accident. Worried that I would be labelled Worst Intern Ever; worried that I’d have awful colleagues. But I survived the first week, and eventually the first year, too.

And so will our new interns. I have some tips for those who need ’em.

64062aa6fd8336df8d9536c250fadde7 Continue reading “Tips for New Interns: First Week at Work”

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Can I Be A Depressed Doctor?

Ever since I wrote about how going for therapy was my biggest gift to myself*, I’ve met with a few medical students to talk about the topic of mental health. Many of them were worried about their ability to make it through med school with their illness. Many were worried about the viability of a career in medicine with depression.

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When I was a student, there was a rumour that students with mental illness would be excluded from the course. We were informed by our senior students, and they by theirs, and thus the rumour was propagated. Continue reading “Can I Be A Depressed Doctor?”

FAQ: Will I Get Into Med School?

Ever since I first posted tips for applying to medicine (in South Africa) in 2014, I have received multiple questions from aspirant medical students.

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The hardest to answer (and thus one of the most popular) is DO I STILL STAND A CHANCE? – usually prefaced with the person’s failure to achieve the desired grades for medical admission, or some other stumbling block. Continue reading “FAQ: Will I Get Into Med School?”

Another Song for Medical Student, Interns, and Basically Everyone

I heard this song for the first time as I was driving to my New Year’s Day call on Friday. Apparently I’m the only person in the whole world who hasn’t heard it, but WHATEVER okay.

I wept a little.

THIS is what I want to say to people. To the new interns who are hopefully going to realise this year that medicine was the right career for them; but who will certainly meet many challenges this year.

Medicine is hard and you’ll be expected to be super-human, never to have broken wings, never to feel like you can’t go on.

Remember that for every person who expects you to motor on without a wink of sleep,  without any debriefing after a difficult resuscitation, there is another who will lend you their wings when it’s hard.

Look for them. Look for us.

Find the people who will support you when your day or week or month is shitty.

And when your wings are working… please help someone who needs them.

A Song for Medical Students, Interns, and Basically Everyone

By now this is an old song, but I remember last year I thought: this is the song I want to dedicate to my class.

I don’t know if I’ve always followed its advice. Have I grabbed every opportunity to LIVE? Perhaps not. But I’ll keep working on that.

I keep saying this about medicine: it is when we learn and experience that we come to grow through this profession.

If you’re about to start medical school: grab every opportunity.

If you’re about to finish medical school: grab every opportunity.

If you’re somewhere in-between: grab every opportunity.

No matter where in your journey you are: make it one helluva ride.

Tips For New Doctors: Things To Do During Your Last Summer Before Internship

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of finding out that I had passed my final year of med school; and on Friday a new group of young doctors was born. I’m so excited to welcome them as my colleagues!

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As I write this, I’m sure that most of them are in a deep slumber trying to catch up on all the sleep they missed out on this year. I am jealously thinking about the summer holiday they have ahead of them, so I made a list of things I think one should do before starting your first official job as a doctor.

1. SLEEP

If you don’t sleep a lot during your last big holiday I might actually disown you.

2. Do what you’ve been dreaming of all year

In my case it was spending the festive season with my family; for others, it was traveling. DO IT NOW. You deserve it.

3. Declutter

Chances are you’ll be moving into a new place – maybe even a new city! Instead of chucking everything your own into boxes, spend some time going through the detritus of your life and getting rid of things you don’t need or don’t use. Haven’t worn that all year? Chuck it. It’s the age of minimalism – dust is gross and moving companies are expensive. If it’s old and gross throw it away; if someone might still use it, donate it to a charity shop.

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Some awesome articles here – click for source.

Continue reading “Tips For New Doctors: Things To Do During Your Last Summer Before Internship”

Collectibles For Your Trip Around The World

In just a few days, the Fall 2015 class of Semester at Sea will embark on their once-in-a-lifetime journey around the world. They will be the first to sail on the new Campus, the World Odyssey, and I may admit to some jealous-sea. (#sorrynotsorry)

A very clear memory for me about SAS was the weight of cost during all the excitement of seeing the world. It was a monumental effort to go on SAS at all, and I wanted to walk away with something tangible I could remember, but that wouldn’t leave me broke. As people wiser than me often remind me: it’s the experiences you bring home that matter most.

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I went on SAS fully intending to buy a lapel pin at every port. Cheap, small, and so very Rotary International. I did not for a second think that I would have trouble finding them, but I could not find one in Burma/Myanmar OR India OR Ghana. (Some of my fellow SASers did. Lucky bastards.) Continue reading “Collectibles For Your Trip Around The World”

A Letter to Final Year Medical Students

Dear Final Year

On the eve of your examinations*:

I have been wanting to write you. I wanted to give you a “list of things to do” to survive your Hell Week, but time got the better of me and thankfully so, because trying to reduce your finals to a list of survival tips is a slap in the face of the hard work you have done, and will still do.

Base image by Angela Hart, click for link.
Base image by Angela Hart, click for link.

Continue reading “A Letter to Final Year Medical Students”

Communicating with Patients who don’t Speak Your Language

I’ve been working for just under two months now and one of the most striking differences between my cushy Western Cape training hospital and my current Eastern Cape job is that here, many more patients cannot communicate with me in a language we both understand.

I am bilingual, and in the Western Cape this has meant that I could communicate – either in Afrikaans or English – with probably around 90% of my patients. These days I probably speak an improvised fanagalo 90% of the day; so much so that I sometimes accidentally speak it to my colleagues and family!

That said, in Cape Town I sometimes had refugees as patients who could not understand a word I spoke, so it is not completely new to me. Here are some tips for when you and your patient don’t speak each other’s language, literally.

language Continue reading “Communicating with Patients who don’t Speak Your Language”