The Penny Drops… Sort of.

Penny drops


The Penny never quite drops…. It seemingly rests motionless for weeks on end and, completely unpredictably it drops slightly.


Well that is what it has been like for me anyway.

This curious statement stem from the question most of us have been asked numerous times by now… “ Do you feel like a Doctor yet”?


I have three standard answers to this question depending on the situation and current level of cynicism/optimism/blood sugar level:


  1. Most commonly I answer in the negative, this is based solely on the amount of knowledge I feel I don’t have yet. This occurs most poignantly at the start of any new rotation when, on occasion, it feels like you have not even spent one day as a doctor prior to that first day.
  2. Next most commonly I give an overly wordy, completely ambiguous answer, which seems to serve a dual purpose; one it overwhelmingly confuses the asker of the question to the point of them questioning whether or not I have a degree and secondly … I forget the second purpose.
  3. Lastly I answer in the affirmative. This answers tends to sneak up on me when I spend a moment looking back on the great year so far, and everything it has involved


It begs the question, if I don’t feel like a doctor for a large portion of the time, what is I feel like I am?

These answers are easier to generate:

  1. Typist
  2. Social worker
  3. Errand boy
  4. Cannulation and phlebotomy service
  5. Requester of images
  6. Reporter of numbers
  7. Test dummy for length of time one can go without food*
  8. Maker of phone calls


Not to say I don’t enjoy my role, I seriously do and strongly believe it to be a privilege, however when people conjure up images of doctors in their minds I don’t believe the above would figure prominently.


So the first half of intern year has sailed past in a flurry of good times, less good times, blood, sweat and tears.

Can not wait for the second half.

* Yes, I acknowledge that there are people out there with far less food…. Namely other interns.


A day in the life of an intern…

busy hospital

Here is my day.

5:30- Alarm.

Second alarm in fact.

I each day still have the notion I will jump out of bed at 5am to go for a run.

That idea is ever so quickly swatted away as my stupid smart phone chirps at me.


Get my shit together at a seemingly glacial pace.

Caffeine needed desperately.


Out the door at 6:20.

Things are looking good! A little self high five as my dirty, sand ridden Mazda 3 points its nose towards the hospital.

Fucking traffic lights.

There is no one else around and yet they change at an incredibly slow pace.


Mental note (1) during drive- Make sure you get the ‘special table’ prepared for ward rounds. Ughh…

Mental note (2)- I have seen that same car passing me at the same spot yesterday. Weird….. or maybe not weird at all. Wonder if they are thinking the same thing? Probably not.


Mazda arrives safely at destination.

Park a solid 10min walk from hospital because I refuse to pay $40/week for parking. ( I wonder how long that will last)

Mental note (3)- If I coughed up the cash I wouldn’t be sweating like a gypsie with a mortgage as I walked into hospital.



Made it.

Sitting at the computer, starting the get the ward round table done, and our list has exploded.

No way I am going to get this done before handover.

Hmmm… just the important folk make the ‘special’ table today.

List sorted, printed x4, dreaded phone clipped to belt.



Hand over meeting.

“New patients on team 3…” Crap. Not on any of my lists.

Listen intently to glean some sort of info about them.

Nil gleaning of info achieved. Sad face.

Scribble down patient ID numbers, the rest will have to wait.


30mins later at the end of the meeting,  I am vaguely more informed about our patients.

Proudly hand lists out to the Bosses and other minions. No one wants my special list.

Mental note (4)- That time could have been put towards coffee. Sad.


The team 3 train leaves at a cracking pace.

Glance at phone to make sure it has not been diverted.

5 missed calls… hmmm. Do I just delete them?

“ Jack! Lets gets this round done.”

“Yes boss.”- Deletes missed calls.

The next hour is a blur of forms to sign, hand in, present graciously to the radiologists and the “Make sure you follow that up…” line.

Which is typically followed by a firm “Yep” from me… then my eyes squint and scan the room praying for a ‘Sherlock Holmes montage’ type moment in which I figure out exactly what the boss is talking about.

They probably think I am having an absent seizure.

Shit. No montage. Fuck you Sherlock.

Scribble “follow up” next to patient name.

Move on.



10mins late to clinic.

38 patients waiting, 0 happy about it.

The next three-four hours is ‘groundhog day’

See patient, present to boss, go back to patient, bluff through any last questions, re-book for 2 weeks.


8th phone call of the day.

“Why aren’t you up on the ward?”

-Ummm… still in clinic.

“When will you be here? We have a list of jobs for you?”

-As soon as I can.


Mental note (5)- another absent seizure… as I watch my lunch skip away into the sunset, holding hands with my coffee.



On the ward

Only 90mins late…. Not bad really.

List of jobs approximately 3hrs long.

Our quitting time was very optimistically quoted to us as 4:06pm each day….

Mental note (6)- I see the clock showing 4:06 chasing hard after my lunch/coffee and joining them frolicking.

Half way through jobs- another self high five,  glance at watch 3:53. Damn

Keep going.

Can not seem to type at all.

The 6 digit patient ID number and I seem to be in some what of a dyslexic duel, with no winner clear….

Mental note (7)- Was Yoda dyslexic?

3hrs of scripts, phone calls, asking my bosses for help and occasionally doing some medicine. The day is looking like coming to an end.

Look at watch 5:45.

Hmmm…Alternate reality scene kicks in….Physically accost person walking past with food and coffee.

I may be drooling at this point.

Montage scene ends….Back to reality.

- What is that pain in my abdomen? Well…. It’s either the bladder at breaking point, or my stomach gnawing on itself.


No food yet. Jobs done though.

Phone handed back to its cradle.

So the whole day has passed huh?

Nice walk to car.



The best part?

I fucking love my job.


Sound familiar? Let me know.


Treadmill fail


Well, as of this weekend, most of us have been Doctors for about a month. It’s been an awesome, hectic experience.

The learning curve is still mighty steep and does not looking like plateauing any time soon.

Over the past month I have been asked by friends and family how it has all been going and it is hard to put into words some times….

The most appropriate way I have of explaining it is that it feels like your are on a treadmill that is going about 5km/hr faster than you can actually run.

You know what you need to do, but doing it in a timely, efficient manner is the challenge.

It rarely relates to actual medicine for me at the moment, it is predominantly paper work and making sure everything is organised so the team can run soothly and work efficiently.

There are a number of reasons this is important, firstly, for the poor soul picking up my mess at the end of the day heading into the night shift to look after the patients, and secondly for tomorrow to make your own life easier.

From what I’ve seen so far it seems there are two ways you can approach it:

One: You work until quitting time, see what you still have left to do shrug your shoulders and hand that over to the person taking over from you.


Two: You work until quitting time, look at what you still have left to do, make the decision to finish of as much as you can staying little later and hopefully making the next persons job a little easier.

Some people it’s one, some people it is the second option. Depends on how you’re wired I guess. Thankfully everyone I work with seems to fall into the first group.

Once you get your head around being organised, it feels like the treadmill has slowed a little. Your legs are a little more underneath you instead of flailing out behind you in all directions.

At almost the exact same time that you begin to feel comfortable on the treadmill, you have time to look around and see what else is going on around you, and more often than not, you realise that there is a lot more to be done.

But I guess that is just how it goes, and will continue to go.


And all that without having to do any medicine at all really….


Rabbit in headlights

The picture will make sense in a sec….

It is still really weird when my boss (senior Dr) introduces the team to the patient, eventually gets to me and calls me a doctor.

I typically get a stupid grin on my face, wave a little like Forrest Gump would, look down and try to act busy.

Although looking busy isn’t too difficult currently.

Last Friday was quite possibly the most inadequate I have felt in this job.

Nothing went horribly wrong at all, it was just one of those days when I probably asked more questions than steps I took all day, which was a lot. It was just ridiculous.

I think we have all had those days when we take forever to do a certain task, then look back on that same task weeks or months later utterly flummoxed at how it could have taken us so long or seemed so difficult!-I really hope that happens to my ‘Friday’. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way.

Fridays are meant to great, especially if you have the weekend off, however leaving work feeling like you have been, at best, not as efficient as you could have been or worse a burden to your team, sucks.

Thankfully, I seem to have some great senior doctors around me who don’t appear to be getting sick of my inane questions and ‘rabbit in headlights’ impressions.

This support from the seniors at work, especially those who were in my shoes exactly one year ago, has been one of the best parts of the first two weeks.

They have been great.

From gentle reassurance, to big out loud laughs at my ineptitude, it has made the difference between a horror day and one you can walk out from feeling like you’ve done ok.

To be sure, all too quickly the day will arrive when their patience draws a little thinner and those ‘Fridays’ won’t be tolerated as kindly. However until then I say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to those who have made the last two weeks that much more bearable.

I promise I’ll do the same to the Dr Who?-interns next year.


Parer work

There is a good reason I haven’t been on this for a while!

First week of playing Doctor and I was on 7 straight days, one off, then straight back into it.Not that I’m complaining or alone in this fact, but jeez it was a shock to my system!And my feet!

Long and stressful as it was,  it’s been a great week. I am loving being back at work. That is a feeling I have missed.

I certainly didn’t realise how much having a vocation, or rather not having one whilst studying, that you enjoy affects your feeling of self worth. Not that I have been kicking stones for the past 4.5years whilst studying…. well mostly not, but knowing that what you do is contributing in some small way is a great feeling.

Being paid for that isn’t too bad either!

The senior Doctors around us have been great for the most part, almost completely obscuring their frustrations with us with slightly forced smiles and nods of appreciation of what we are going through.


1. I am sergeant Shultz from Hogan’s heroes- “I know nothing”!( In a strong German accent) The reference will be lost on most, however for those out there I hope you appreciate it.  ( )

2. There is so much more going on in a hospital than you think. The fact that it runs smoothly at all is rather impressive.

3. Right now (and for probably a while longer): NURSES ARE GOLD!

4. The paper work can be horrendous, and my current signature just won’t cut it.

This is the area I feel most lost in…..Which form for what, where said form goes, where to get it back from when you realise you didn’t fill it out correctly in the first place and finally why you need the form in the first place.

One of the interns from last year said ” as long you’re organised, you will make a good intern”,I now know what he was on about.

Then again there are our dear friends on much more relaxed terms currently and those on holidays….. enjoy it.

Despite all this, I would not swap my job for anything.I hope we all realise what a privileged position we are in.



To tuck or not to tuck….

I’ve been given numerous pieces of advice this week.

Some use full, some less so.

Chestnut number one: “You should turn up to orientation week in joggers, with map and a compass and state you mistakenly read the info email as ‘orienteering’ not orientation when questioned…”  After considering this rather hilarious option for a split second, I decided that no one likes a smart arse on the first day.



Chestnut number two: ” On your first real ‘Doctoring’ day… tuck your pants into your socks, so that when you shit yourself no one will notice….” This little nugget may actually be useful. So please look kindly upon any medico you see with their pants tucked in to their socks…. they are probably a little nervous.

Regardless, the whole orientation week was fantastic, and thanks should go to those who put so much effort into making us feel welcome and most importantly supported.

Getting to know as many of the ~90 new faces as possible was an absolute treat. Despite our varying backgrounds, beliefs, and experience it was great to realise that beneath it all, we were all here for the same reasons. We all have a passion for helping others and approach it in our own unique style.

From this great week spent as a group we are split up and sent out to man various posts as ground troops of the medical army. Some have scored their ideal postings, others not. Indeed some of us have been sent on their 5 week holidays first up!

With a little luck, none of us will be lost to follow up later on. Those poor souls on holidays first may fear we will forget them, and consequently will flood our Facebook pages with pictures of them relaxing on sun soaked beaches or knee deep in powder… Jerks.

Last chestnut: “Don’t compare your insides to the outsides of others.”

This one I like, despite the calm exterior that some of us are able to maintain at times of stress, remember they are probably doing it just as tough as you are. *Pants tucked into socks will be the giveaway though.

Thats enough for today,  I need to go buy some better looking socks…






First day

Well, the first day of our orientation is done and dusted! Hooray!

And no one died… Well, I’m sure someone did, somewhere. But it had nothing to do with me, or us, so it’s ok….. sort of.

Some anxieties have been allayed, many still remain.

The really interesting part for me today was how similar the fears I have about our upcoming roles are to those of the other 89 wide eyed, anxious interns in the lecture theatre with me today.

Here are the Top 3 from our discussions today from my point of view:

1. Being responsible for a decision that leads to a patient being harmed in any way.

2. Feeling inadequate in our knowledge and skills to deal with on-call & over night shifts

3. Management of the day to day running of our various wards, and in turn keeping our senior doctors happy.

Let alone maintaining some sort of work life balance, looking after your own health, and keeping on top of your own learning and professional development!

(Have any more to add?… Hit up the comments below)

The rest of the week has been divided up into shadowing the doctors currently in our role to get a feel of how our various wards work, Advanced Lifesaving Skills sessions, and plenty of time devoted to managing the ever increasing IT demands on doctors.

With the move to a paperless workplace, many little things have been left behind.

In particular I’m referring to the little hand drawn images of patients hearts, lungs and abdomen with appropriate marks for where the patient felt pain, had scars etc.

These little picture were, quite possibly, my most favourite parts of hand writing notes in a paper chart. Less fun was lugging arms full of bulging charts!

Now we can import a jpeg image with our attempts at descriptions made through a ‘Paint’ like program.

Sadly, it is a far more time consuming task on the ‘computer on wheels’ or COW’s as they are known, that we push around and as such, has been largely left behind in the larger hospitals.

Sad face…. ‘Cause I can’t draw one in anymore.







This next year will undoubtedly be a steep learning curve for me.

As such this category will be on things I probably should have paid more attention to as a student, and why.

Please fell free to add some experiences of your own through the comments section, or here …Who knows…. this might actually end up being educational !


Orientation week…

Oh crap…. it is finally here. 7 weeks since our graduation we are about to set foot in hospital as Doctors.

And as the opening line may suggest, it is a feeling that oscillates between excitement and anxiety with unnerving speed and power.

Although there is very little ‘Doctoring’ to be done in this week, by then end of it we are expected to know how the hospital runs, how to run around the hospital, how to keep our senior doctors happy and hopefully not piss off too many of the nurses!

All this in a hospital completely foreign to me.

Oh well, should be interesting…. Stay tuned.

“If not you, then who?; If not now, then when”? Redgrave and Pinsent