I will have so many posts about my rookie days, maybe I should title this part 1. Only a medical student or a close friend of one, will know how terrifying it is to stand there with a stethoscope around your neck, like you have the solution to every problem, all the while shaking in your boots. Lol. The patient doesn’t care that you are frightened;he is in pain, and expects you to make it go away.
My first job post NYSC was in a very busy hospital, as I have said before. At night, only 1 doctor was on call. Since the public health facility was close to moribund (note how vague I deliberately sound), we got all the business. We were swamped. Most nights, I stayed up till 4am, and I still had to present all the cases to my MD at 7.30am. Let me mention here he was very strict, harder on me than the guys, because he felt they tried to help me dodge responsibility. If only he knew, they did me no favours. Once they tried asking me out and found out 1 sharp guy had put a ring on it, they considered me ‘one of the boys’. Nobody did anything for me, in fact, I covered for them occasionally, when they had babes to attend to.
It was late, maybe 10 pm, the nurses called me to the A&E. On the couch sat a young lady,clutching her chest and wheezing. Around her were her father, mother, 2 brothers, and who knows who else! I started medication for Acute Asthmatic attack, after examining her quickly.
First of all, her relatives refused to answer any of my questions. They were rude, preferring to fan her, rub her back, tell her “sorry”, and talk on phone, than to give me information.
Her father actually told me, ” Can’t you figure out what is wrong with her? Why are you wasting time asking me questions? ”
It was obvious he despised me. I was 25 or 26, very skinny, not particularly tall, and I had no foreign accent to commend me. About 10 minutes later, the patient was still breathing fast, and clutching her chest. I will never forget her father’s words. First he started complaining that I had not given the right medication.
“This is not the 1st time we are coming here for this problem. There is an injection that the moment it is given, the symptoms stop. I just can’t remember the name”, he had the tone you use when speaking to a dull teenager.
I mentioned some drugs. He could not recognise any.
“Sir, I have given everything I should give. Let’s give her a while, she’ll feel better”, I reassured.
“Where is the doctor we met last time? Very brilliant chap! He just gave that injection, bam! She was good to go”, he started looking around for the person.
I was red with embarrassment. The nurses whose respect I was still trying to win, were looking at me like “Call for help if you are out of your depth”. I decided to take a walk to think of what I had not done.
Mentally, I went through my notes, checked all the steps I should have taken. The 2 alternatives were to double the doses of the drugs I had already given, risking complications, or call my colleague for help, risking their wondering why I could not handle such a simple case. All my life, I have avoided the “helpless female” tag. You know the one who faints at the feet of the guy she admires, so he will notice her. Eish! I decided that both options were out of it.
Returning to her side, I counted her respiratory rate. By this time, her father was raising his voice, threatening fire and brimestone. I figured that her respiratory rate (number of breaths per minute), would be a better assessment of her improvement than their ranting.
“Is she your youngest, sir?” I asked.
“She is my only daughter” ,he snapped.
I concluded that she was malingering. This is a situation where people exaggerate their symptoms, to get attention. She was probably spoilt, judging by the way they treated her like a baby, though she was 22 or more. At the end of the night, she was discharged. They settled their bills, still gripping about how long it took for her to feel better. They never suspected she was milking it.
The next day, I touched base with my colleagues, to find out the magic injection that stops wheezing immediately. One doctor actually remembered them, and said they were just difficult people. No one faulted my line of management, or the decision not to call for help. I heaved a sigh of relief.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Let no man despise you because of your youth” This year, opportunities will come your way that people might feel you don’t deserve. When you have done your best, don’t let anyone push you around. Demand credit for your ideas, politely. Insist on promotion, nicely. Smile, but let it be known, that you are no push over. You will get in trouble trying to please everybody. Sometimes, you have to block out the noise and obey God. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, but you cannot come across as helpless, else you will never be entrusted with authority.
As my husband says, bosses expect results, not excuses. Imagine if I overdosed that girl, then told my MD, It’s because her father was shouting at me!” That would have been the end of my career.
Thanks for visiting, and to every rookie out there, just keep at it. Cheers.