Jan 20, 2018

Why I (kinda) Like Being a Doctor

I have come to realize that I have never write a post, a proper one, that shares insights of what being a houseman is all about. You know, the one post that is just full with positivity, optimism and general good vibe feeling when reading it (Wait, I haven't? What did I write all year long then?). Sure, I wrote about my misfortunes and my depression and my encounters with patients but it's about time I write some good things instead. This blog is becoming darker with each post (thanks, sis, for pointing it out cis) so some sort of a balance is needed here, fellas.

Feel-good, positive vibe coming right up

And so here I am, as promised, after some time of pondering and wrecking my brain to figure out my key highlights of being a doctor. I will try my best not to sound generic and cliche like what most doctors or future doctors like to tell. Yes, I am sure some of them would say they like being a doctor because of that satisfaction of seeing their patients getting better or because it's a noble profession etc. yeah I'm sure they mean it but it's not meeeee, okay? You want my honest feelings of why I sometimes don't hate being a doctor (sheesh, fine, I like being a doctor) so let me have my say here.

I guess the first time I feel satisfied with what I am doing right now was just this recently when I met this patient that I clerked when he first came in and subsequently under my daily review (meaning I know the case inside out and can present to the specialist without even touching the BHT ceh ceh ceh). I had to request for a KUB ultrasound imaging for his acute urinary retention (meaning the urine won't come out) and so I had to present it to the radiologist on that day. The radiologist listened to my presentation attentatively, asked few questions and we even ended up discussing about the case.

What I want to say is that it feels kinda great (it's actually a fantastic feeling for me) when the one we are referring to (or requesting for an imaging) genuinely wanted to know why we are requesting or referring to them. You will be surprised at how often you will encounter people who are irritated or annoyed whenever we approach them. When we present, they are not looking at what's really wrong with the patient, instead they would find reasons to reject the referral or request.

I mean, I GET IT that they can't approve all requests or accepting just any referral made to them. But their lack of interest or the annoyance of the possibilities of their work to be increased is just.. well, fucked up. That's why when that fortunate encounter happened, I feel very satisfied doing what I do. That was one of the rare moment when I feel that I truly work in a team (an interdepartmental one, too!) for the benefit of someone else. Even if my request is denied or when the referral is rejected, I feel satisfied aplenty if they explained properly why they think the rejection is warranted.

only happy thoughts here, fellas. Happy thoughts. Positive vibessss

Moving on, another reason why I kinda like being a doctor is related with the patients themselves. Okaaaaayyyy, it does sound a bit cliche but I can't help it, can I? Don't get me wrong, who would not feel brightened when patients who were near death's door when they first admitted slowly get better and were discharged with leaps of improvement? The last patient who recovered like that made all of us grinning from ear to ear whenever we were reviewing him. Such a wonderful feeling.

But most of the time, I wouldn't care much about the patients that way. When you work in a big hospital with such a high patient turnover rate (meaning a lot of patients admitted and discharged at one time) and being in charge with a lot of patients, you will miss the luxury of being emotionally spent in every patient that you found. Often you will just be glad that patients are being discharged so that you don't have to take care of them anymore HAHAHAHA it's trueeeee! You will see, this will happen often enough especially when the patients are difficult both to treat and to please. 

I have lost track of times I resisted from doing this facial expression when dealing with difficult patients. One classic example: Approaching patients to draw blood and I didn't even start or anything yet and then they will make a tssch sound and scolded me as to why I need to take their blood everyday. A proper scolding, mind you. Like it's my fault they got sick or something. Jadi doktor memang best sebab boleh kena marah dengan semua orang dari patient ke relative ke staft nurse ke specialist yeay~

So how do I, a fairly cold-hearted bastard (as claimed by some), enjoy the nature of my profession? Amazingly I do enjoy interacting with my patients, and they more or less also appear (I hope!) to enjoy interacting with me. I do this by doing a lot of small things, really. I found that small talks, gestures, and tiny acts of kindness often reciprocated with grand gratitude from them. Be it just an insight to their meals and the shared feelings towards the taste of the hospital's diet, a lending hand to sit up or for a walk to the loo, offering my hand for them to hold whenever they are in embarrassment during a procedure or scared shitless with the state they are in - they appreciated your presence very much. Even if they don't tell you. Even if you don't think it matters much.

At times, they make it known they are grateful. A gentle pat in the back while I was doing my work to inform me that they are going home now, a good morning/bye bid whenever they see me, or a simple sentence like, "Ahh, you are the one I want to see, doctor" can make me swell with this yucky thing called happiness. Thank you for thanking me. Sobs.

And the third reason why I love being a doctor is how this "noble" profession, which when you think of it, IS NOT noble at all when all you do is doing gross stuff like sticking your finger literally into people's arse or vagina and slicing off dead tissues and rotten flesh from their sacral sore or diabetic foot, is how it makes me hmm.. humble. (AM I, THO? HUMBLE??)

In a self-reflecting note, I think I am. I don't make a fuss about me being a doctor, no, not really I should think. Blogging about being a doctor is a different matter. I'm talking about my humility while being someone in the profession of taking care of other people's health that I don't think of myself as being superior to others. Working in a hospital you are bound to meet a lot of people from various walk of life. Most often than not, doctors are indeed, humble (some of them, la. Mana yang berlagak nak mampus tu pergi mampus LOLOL)

I guess I am arriving to the same conclusion that they might have already drew years ago when they started working that as a doctor, be it a first-posting houseman, a senior MO or a consultant, that we can't possibly know all the things. Even if you know so much about your specialty, you can't possibly be able to treat the patients with just your expertise. Older, experienced doctors often know about this, that's why some of them are blissful to work with. They know their own strengths and limitations, and they do not hesitate to ask help from other department.

At this point of being just a houseman, to me, being a doctor is all about doing tasks they entrusted to you whether you know it or not. The point of doing them is to learn about why you are doing it and how to do it properly. The why can be learnt from books or from your superiors, but the hows is more versatile. Never, ever, be arrogant enough and not asking for help. I love to ask the staff nurses on how to do things like suturing, preparing IV drugs, bladder irrigation, and thousands more things. They KNOW more than you do. Sometimes, patients also know more than you, because they have been dealing with it longer than you do. Do not feel ashamed, even if you think it caused bad impression of you to them. It's better to learn and do things right than being arrogant to admit that you don't know and doing it wrong.

So that's it! Yeah, it's mightily a short list to begin with, but these are what making me keep on going. At days I will lose all hope and nothing will feel right, but on some days, when these happened, I think I don't regret for choosing to be a doctor. My advice to future doctors and aspiring students alike is: Chin up. You can do it. Good luck with your endeavour!


  1. "offering my hand for them to hold whenever they are in embarrassment during a procedure"

    Aww this is so sweet. I wanna meet this kind of doctor. Keep it up, bruh.

  2. Hai,lam a first year medical student in ipta.

    Previously,i was so eager and excited to enter this medical field but now i always questioning and doubting myself,do I strong enough to keep moving forwad?I love what l'am doing and studying but somehow the feeling of not prepare enough or as simply as not being able to answer the lecturer's question always haunted me.

    Hence,would you please share on how you cop with this situation during your medical school's year?

    Sorry for taking your time and I would be really grateful for your respond.

    Thank you.