Posted by on June 30, 2015 | 0 comments

Letter to Junior Doctors #2: You are not alone

Often when we are struggling or having a rough time we internalise the struggle and assume that we are the only one going through it. It was 8 years after leaving medicine that I realised I was not alone in my struggles. Know this: every new doctor feels terrified. Frankly, I’d be a little concerned if someone fresh out of medical school said they felt completely confident and unfazed by the enormity of the responsibility thrust upon them. Yet we don’t talk about it. We keep our anxiety to ourselves because we don’t want to look weak. Medicine is dominated by people who are used to being the best of the best; it’s how we got this far. So to own up to feeling uncertain, overwhelmed and less than fully competent is understandably unsettling. Pay no attention to your colleagues who blab on about all the miraculous feats they are accomplishing in the emergency rooms. We all have successes. How often do those guys talk about the lives they...

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Posted by on June 23, 2015 | 4 comments

Letter to Junior Doctors #1: You will never be the same again

It’s just after two in the morning and you are sleeping in a narrow bed that countless other doctors have slept in over the years. Well, you aren’t exactly sleeping; more like lying down, hoping to get enough rest to keep you going for the rest of the shift. But you’re too uncomfortable and too wired to actually fall asleep. It’s been a rough night. From the start of the shift you were called to one emergency after another. At one point you even wondered whether the nurses were doing it deliberately to “break in the new doctor”. And now, as you lie awake waiting to be called again, you are reminded that the hospital doesn’t grind to a halt just because you want some rest. You can hear patients being wheeled back from theater, machines bleeping, nurses talking among themselves; in the distance a cleaner whistles to himself as he mops the floor. There’s a whole world out there. And you just want some sleep. “Why didn’t they...

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Posted by on June 18, 2015 | 1 comment

On Being Stretched

I hate being stretched. But I love the feeling of having been stretched. You know what I mean? The feeling that says: “Wow, look what I managed to do! I can’t believe I made it through that.” It’s a gloriously empowering feeling. The stuff that comes before that, though, isn’t much fun at all. As human beings we are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one hand we can breeze along in life smoothly, never extending ourselves beyond what is familiar. But staying the same is inherently unsatisfying. Or we can expand our horizons and challenge ourselves, though this tends to be massively uncomfortable. Much as I don’t enjoy the discomfort of being stretched beyond what feels safe for me, I know this is where I choose to operate in life. It’s through being prodded and twisted by life that I learn and grow. In the past I used to wait for external circumstances to nudge me to take scary action. Like when I...

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Posted by on June 3, 2015 | 0 comments

How to Resuscitate Your Dreams

If you’ve been through the conventional schooling system, had some form of professional training and worked for a boss or two, chances are your dreams have been trampled on. You have likely been told to “get real” and “do as you are told”. After all, who do you think you are? The thing with our dreams is that they don’t disappear simply because we ignore them. Instead they morph into balls of suffering and express themselves in ways that remind us that we have given up on them: We become envious of other people who seem to be pursuing their dreams and having a blast in the process. Our frustration grows with each passing day that we remain in denial. We eventually become restless, irritable and on edge. We may even turn to substances to help ease the pain. For some people the call of their dreams becomes so loud that they take drastic measures to answer it. I’m sure we’ve all heard or read a story about someone...

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