Things that change when you become a doctor:
On the eve of my last day of work before going on leave (yay!) I have been thinking about the way my life has changed in the last 6 months. A lot has changed, mostly for the better, others maybe not… These are just a few highlights:

1. Phone calls – previously my phone ringing was exciting! Yes! Someone is phoning me! Now my phone ringing is the last thing I want to hear. An excited “ooh my phone is ringing” changed to “ugh, my phone is ringing”. By the end of a call, or even just a busy day at work the sound of any phone ringing, nevermind your own, can be dangerous for yourself, the phone, and anyone in the near vicinity. If your ringtone is your favourite song you will be needing to find a new favourite song by the end of the day. It’s so bad that those “Sorry, wrong number” phone calls that used to irritate me so much, are now the best kind. And the most swear words uttered by a doctor are those that follow the sound of a cellphone ringing.

2. Meaning of “all nighter” – pre-doctor an all nighter meant a night out, followed by an early morning Rave burger and then 6am bedtime. At worst it meant staying up late to study or work on a project. Post-doctor an all nighter always refers to a call, especially in the EC, where sleep is a luxury and bedtime is 10am the next day. Speaking of bed time, that also changes when you become a doctor. I can easily go to bed at 9am and wake up 10 hours later. 

3. Weekends – weekend? Like week end? Like end of the week? I don’t understand, what is that? The week doesn’t end! Jokes, it does but only after 12 days instead of 5. Only getting every second weekend off really makes you appreciate them. And with that comes the struggle of deciding how to spend your off weekend. Sitting on my couch doing nothing sounds really enticing after 2 weeks of working everyday, but then I remember I’ll only be able to do something fun again in 2 weeks time. It’s a struggle.

4. The value of a pen. A doctor’s greatest tool. A pen. Pens are extremely valuable items in a hospital. Leave your pen lying around and you will never see it again. Lend your pen to someone and you will never see it again. Take your eyes off your pen and you will never see it again. These are a few pen-related quotes I’ve been privy to in the hospital: 

“the most important job of an intern is to have an extra pen for his MO” 

or “Doctor, is this your pen?” “No, but I’m on call, I’ll take it.” 

Another one “Is that my pen? It looks like my pen? I’m pretty sure it’s mine, give it back”. “Your pen is in your hand.” “Oh” 

5. Lunch. As a doctor or a nurse, lunch does not refer to the meal eaten between somewhere between 12 and 2pm. To a health care worker, lunch can range from gobbling down your sandwich in between ward rounds to an hour break taken at 2am in the morning. Sometimes lunch involves food, sometimes not. With me, lunch always involves food, obviously. I’d trade my pen for food! Lunch is a very unpredictable thing in the world of a doctor and if it’s important to you, every opportunity to take ‘lunch’ should be taken without hesitation. Even if it means you eventually get your full hour of lunch in twelve 5 minute intervals. 

6. Wine. Wine is no longer a luxury drink enjoyed with friends on the weekend, or something that is tasted at a fancy venues. Wine is a very necessary part of my post-work routine. Enough said! 

7. The depth of your skin – when you become a doctor you realize the quicker you grow a thick skin the better! Whether it be a patient, a colleague or a family member (biggest culprits), someone is going to say something that you might offend you. But you can’t take everything personally. Not everyone is going to like you, and not everyone is going to be happy with the way you managed them (see previous post about Pandas). The only way to survive this game is to grow a thick skin.

Having said all that, change is good. Life would be boring without a little change! And the changes that don’t kill you, only make you stronger, and more synical, but stronger non the less! 

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