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The sacrifices and rewards of becoming a doctor

The below blog post is written by Dr Rachel Chan, a Hospital Medical Officer at Peninsula Health.

As the intern year wound to an end, this blog post ‘10 things you need to give up to become a doctorcaught my attention. I had been ruminating on much the same things as I commuted to and from Warragul for my country rotation. The idea of what we have to give up in becoming a doctor used to feel so distant in medical school. However, now that we have just achieved general registration, some of the realities of our new career have set in. In particular, the fact that many of us will have worked a majority of public holidays last year, thus missing out on quality time with friends and family.

Personally, the hardest part was accepting that part and parcel of this job entails not having any employment security in the next five or more years whilst being doctors in training. The system in Australia promotes gaining experience from a variety of hospital networks, hence having mostly 12 month contracts. The annual job application process is not an easy one.

I have also have learned to accept the probability that the road to one’s dream specialty may take far longer than one anticipated.

And finally, I have given up the idea of buying a house, and abandoned any kind of secure nesting ideas for the next five years due to the fact that the pursuit of many specialties entails applying everywhere in Australia to increase one’s chances of getting a spot in a training program.

However, it is not all bleak at all as the year has flown by and although much has been sacrificed, I have felt I have gained far more in return. These include:

– New friendships with health professionals from different disciplines, forged through working in the same team with common goals for positive patient outcomes.

– The feeling of camaraderie with fellow interns as we encourage each other through the long shifts together.

– A deeper relationship with family and friends who believe in you and support you all the way despite you having to miss out on their significant events.

– The crystallisation of textbook knowledge seen in real life and the facts we spent so long cramming finally make sense.

– The hug from the little girl in ED whose viral sore throat felt better with the ice block we provided.

– The satisfaction in seeing the team effort of rehabilitation paying off as stroke or hip fracture patients gain mobility and are able to be safely discharged home.

– The privilege of trust from the mental health patients who have presented to hospital due to having nowhere else to turn to and being able to listen to their situations and make an appropriate referral.

-A more profound awareness of some of the crises affecting public health as we meet patients who are personally affected by situations previously only made known through media.

Medicine is indeed a life changing career and as much as we have given up, I feel that we have gained more in many other areas, grown in our personal lives and developed as a professional.

Rachel Chan