Thursday, 18 November 2010

Define: House Officer

I'm now way into my second rotation and I managed to let my surgery rotation go by without a blog post. For the past 5 months, my life was just a ping pong between work and going to sleep... A life devoid of blogger and twitter... (And then you get people still pestering me to get myself on Facebook!)

So, what does it feel like working as a house officer? I recently wrote a 500 word article on MMSA's Fresher's booklet trying to summarise what I'm currently going through at the moment. I was going to copy and paste that article onto my blog. But then I realised that I need not bore you with lengthy articles when you have a anonymous genius who writes quotes like these on the Internet...

"We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing."

That, dear ladies and gentleman, is the perfect definition of a house officer. Please consider this sentence seriously before you become a doctor.

The end.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Reason to Celebrate

Results have come out on Friday at noon... When I was still out shopping for a Father's Day present in Tigne; only to be told by my best friend on arriving at chaplaincy, "Mar, results have been out for, like, three quarters of an hour!"

Yes... And I passed my exams! I'm finally a doctor. (A real doctor, you know, not a lawyer :P) I want to say sorry for breaking the news so late on my blog, but these days I've been feeling like I was living on space cake and hash cookies.

I just want to say thanks to all those people who supported me throughout this journey as a medical student. A special thank you goes to all those who helped me in my studies, bore with my neurosis and soaked me in prayer. Honestly, I couldn't have done this without you. It's true that I've worked hard and that I've studied lots. But, at the end of the day...

There is no such thing as a 'self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.
George Burton Adams

So... to all those who helped in any way... Thank you! :)

In the meantime, watch this space for more of my misadventures. They'll probably start in two weeks' time.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

From My Calendar

Four birthdays ago, a dear friend gave me this Calendar God's Daily Inspirations which I religiously (pun intended) flip through every single day. And this is today's Verse of the Day...

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will bless the fruit of your womb and the
fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of
your cattle and the issue of your flock, in the land that he swore to your
ancestors to give you."

Deuteronomy 7: 13

I don't know whether it's pure coincidence or God's uncanny sense of humour... But it surely is an appropriate Bible quote right before an obstetrics and gynaecology practical exam!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

When I'm on Duty

*For the next ten minutes I’m going to ignore the fact that night duties can be tiring, tough and have the potential of turning you into a cranky individual as though you are in a permanent state of PMS.*

Amidst my surgery boredom (and trying to psychologically prepare myself for the ordeal to come on passing the 5th year) I decided to outline a list of things I’d want to do when on duty… For those rare moments when the hospital gets quiet in the middle of the night…
  • Decorate my pager with pretty stickers.
  • Set up a Wall of Shame at Doctor’s Quarters and post embarrassing photos of other people… You know… Just like on Facebook!
  • Offer a colleague (e.g. Karl) coffee… with Burinex… or Klean Prep… or both.
  • Fill the sofas at doctor’s quarters with whoopee cushions.
  • Gather everyone on duty in the Neuromedical Ward and order a Pizza by Luca. Then thank them with a prank phone call with weird complaints about the food. Aim of the phone call? A complimentary 16 inch pizza for the coming duty.
  • Write songs for Joe Demicoli to sing in the next Malta Song for Europe.
  • Spell out “This Food Stinks” with my lunch and dinner leftovers in the hospital canteen.
  • Sing out loud (for all the world to hear) Frank Sinatra’s Night and Day to my pager every time it bleeps. (I have this gut feeling that I should better get cracking to learn those lyrics.)
  • Race colleagues in the 1st floor hospital corridor… in wheelchairs! xD
  • Cover a sleeping colleague in shaving foam.
  • Buy a new bottle of water and superglue the tap on. Ask my colleagues to kindly open the bottle, record all the action on my iPod and share the stupidity with the rest of the world on YouTube.

Any more ideas are welcome... :)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Difference Between Specialities

A physician is someone who knows everything and does nothing.
A surgeon is someone who does everything and knows nothing.
A psychiatrist is someone who knows nothing and does nothing.
A pathologist is someone who knows everything and does everything, but only when it is too late.
Kudos to Samuel, who left a very lame comment on my previous blog post. He does come up with a good one from time to time... barely... But it happens. :)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Rant #2

*WARNING! Possibly lame post ahead.*

So I’m typing this post with only one month left to go... not to start my exams but to finish them. God willing, on the 16th of June I’ll finish my final medicine practical at 14:15hrs.

Many readers at this point will fear that I’m going to start whining on how scarier things are getting with finals fast approaching. Indeed, the pressure is on, but I’m too tired to waste my time figuring out what I’m feeling at this point.

The anxiety started mounting to insurmountable limits since the day we finished psychiatry last November. With everybody reminding us how the practical exams have such a heavy weighting in 5th year, there was, and still is, much pressure on everybody... Pressure to perform... Pressure to have a good knowledge base... To make sure that consultants see your face for when the jitters get the better of you on the day and your performance falters. You know, a familiar face is, at least, proof that you’ve been around in hospital and that the dip in your performance is certainly not due to lack of effort.

Oh yes! The pressure was on way before the month of May. Pressure to get your clinical skills polished... Pressure to get all the physical signs right... Pressure to get the correct diagnosis... To get a pat on the back for your impeccable clinical judgement and for knowing all the impressive small print in the textbooks... The thing is that to work for such an astounding clinical performance in a space with finite resources, you see people competing for the best patients, the best tutors and the best seats during tutorials.

That is what, in reality, makes 5th year such a time of adversity – all this useless competition for nothing. After all, the vast majority of us are going to make it anyway, and our ranking has been out since February. And in the end, no amount of tutorials and fighting will outweigh the benefit of the work you do out of hours on your own or, perhaps, with a friend/study partner.

Nevertheless, 5th year is still perceived by many as a time of great adversity (!). And adversity doesn’t build character... it reveals it! I cannot say that I am particularly shocked by what I saw. I saw it coming from miles away. I mean, what can you possibly expect from people who, last year, spoke of a woman in labour as being “MY vaginal delivery because I booked this mother last week!”? But I was certainly disgusted by what I saw people do to each other.

After all, as much as it’s true that the pressures of 5th year are real, it is also equally true that it is just an undergraduate exam. There might seem to be so much at stake at the moment... We’re tired now... We don’t want that extra three months or one year studying medicine, or surgery, or obstetrics and gynaecology. We want to graduate with the rest of our friends. We need this job because we desperately need the money.

But they are, nonetheless, exams like all the rest. And no one needs to stop down so low just to get the pass mark. To be fair, the majority of people are stooping low for the A rather than the D which, in my opinion, is simply not worth it in the long run. If a medical student is so ready to give up their integrity for a silly distinction, then only hell knows what this person will be ready to give up to climb up the career ladder of success in the very near future...

Truth be told... I'm just too tired to care!!!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

For All it's Worth!

I've been meaning to pen something down for quite a while. But I was too caught up trying to keep up with my study schedule. For once in a very long time, I actually constructed a revision time table on an Excel spread sheet, specifically on the 6th of April which I called "My Race to the Finish".

Am I managing to stick to it? Not as much as I would like to. But it's there... As though I need it to remind me that after a tiring day of tutorials, ward rounds and seeing patients, I have to hit the textbooks.... That in exactly one months time, I would have already finished my surgery written and would be one hour into my medicine paper.

It's been like that for the past many years of my life (7+ years) that I feel like a ping pong ball bouncing from one desk bench to another, from one pack of notes to another and from one exam to the next (with a few, very intermittent, extracurricular activities in between). Devoting 90% of my waking time at home studying seemed like the natural thing to do...

Then came in the greatest procrastinator tool of all time... Facebook! Now, I don't have Facebook and don't intend to ever have Facebook, reasons for which require another blog post. But my other medicine friends who hang around with me in the library do, and they pay it a visit every now and again in between periods of study. (And on a very bad day, people study every now and again between very long periods of Facebook.)

Hearing them giggling stupidly at their laptop screens stirs up my curiosity and slowly, slowly I am lured into this display of photos and Facebook walls of people living a very different sort of life. During holidays and weekends, people go to parties, go on picnics and camping trips, go swimming in Easter (and sometimes even in February, you know, out of tradition). You get people making time to enjoy the sun, talking about the Pope and everything that's going on whilst I'm cocooned around the four walls of the hospital.

And people tag photos, type silly things on their Facebook walls... And I look at my books and ponder on the hours I spent with them and wonder to myself... At the end of the day, is it really worth it?