the weight of my mistakes

i’m currently in my 5th rotation as a houseman. if i were a doctor 5 years ago, i’d be a medical officer by now. i’d have to make decisions entirely on my own if i were in a district hospital or a clinic. there would be no one to fall back on. the fate of my patients would be entirely in my hands.

of course, with the extended period of housemanship, i’m still putting “KIV” in my management plans. in some departments, i have to ask my medical officer before commencing simple things like analgesics or potassium supplements because failure to do so would elicit a tantrum from my seniors. it can get a little ridiculous sometimes and tougher housemen would probably brush it off and make resolves to not let it affect how they work, but i find myself succumbing to the inevitable conditioning it results in.

i’m not sure when it became wrong to learn from mistakes and right to completely avoid them altogether. a patient’s life is precious, no doubt, but if doctors in the past have been unleashed after one year of internship, left to sink or swim, entrusted with 40 patients and 2 hours of sleep, why can’t we? i’m sure my consultants, specialists have killed someone with their inexperience or caused harm to a patient because of the short time they’ve been in service, but somehow the weight of their past mistakes seems so much less than ours today.

i don’t trust myself with making a diagnosis and coming up with a concrete management plan. i thought by now i could be like the medical officer i looked up to in one of my previous rotations; she only ordered the necessary investigations and her plans always had a follow-up for housemen to follow, to learn from. but subsequent rotations with their “housemen cannot be trusted” policies have completely killed that desire to be independent and replaced it with the fear of doing something wrong, being blamed, having my misery extended.

i know there will be people who say i’m weak, a whiner, that i’m pointing fingers at “the system” instead of taking responsibility for my own shortcomings. i acknowledge that i am not the best houseman i can be, or even the best person i can be, but i also know that one’s environment has a part to play in shaping oneself, that external input will have an effect on me whether i want it to or not. it’s not a choice, it’s not an option.

it’s time for me to admit it was a mistake to choose this hospital as my place of training. 


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