Rookie days

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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.


14 thoughts on “Rookie days

    tenderonii said:
    January 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    “is she your youngest, sir?” I asked.
    “She’s my only daughter” he snapped
    I don’t even need my imaginations to tell me how furiously the father would have answered you. lol
    I’m so thankful for this post. Very soon I’ll be a “rookie”, but by God’s grace I’m sure it’ll go very well. I’ll be a testimony just like you. Congratulations ma on your victory that day. I’m guessing the girl was faking the symptoms. take care ma

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 15, 2014 at 7:30 am

      Hahaha! Yeah, u’ll enjoy it. Thanks

    imperfectlyperfect92 said:
    January 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks ma, this was so encouraging.
    Indeed let no man despise u cuz of age,its what we carry inside that matters.

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 16, 2014 at 7:39 am

      Thank you. I believe you will only get the respect u demand

    niki said:
    January 15, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    This was the encouragement i needed. I have been feeling very incompetent at my job and not sure when to do or not do. As you have said, the main thing is balance and not appearing selfless.
    Thanks Doc

      drnsmusings responded:
      January 16, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Thank God for that. Congrats on your new job. As Joyce Meyer says “Do it, afraid.” Another tip I have for females in the corporate world is keep your emotions to yourself. Never ever cry in front of the guys. That’s what d bathroom is for. Reapply your makeup and strut out and try again

        niki said:
        January 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

        Thanks for the additional advice

    drnsmusings responded:
    January 16, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Right back at ya.

    tundealliomolade said:
    February 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    God bless you for this post Dr N! Really encouraging, sometimes I wish I was a little taller or fatter and some patient relatives can so hassle person! I won’t let anybody despise my humble beginnings. As for malingering, still saw a young girl today who really faked her symptoms kai! I couldn’t agree with you more ma, it boils down to God giving one the wisdom to handle such and also in making the right decisions. Loving this blog more especially that post on faith! Knowing and involving Christ in medical practice gives great results!

      drnsmusings responded:
      February 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      See me na wey tiny like broom! I hide behind Christ. He magnifies my voice. I have been privileged to treat d high n mighty. Even those who walked out on other doctors. Some of them went to my bossses to commend me n ask dt I be specially assigned to them. If I didn’t have faith, I would be so despised.

    Tito Tobi said:
    March 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Y’know, I’m in my early 20s and doing my MSc with a colleague who is probably over 50 and I had to see him urgently for something. I got to his office and I was so interrogated that I had to spill that he is my course mate where I’m doing my MSc. Then I felt the hateful looks coming from the staff after that. I had to speak up and give them a smooth lecture about this bible verse.

      drnsmusings responded:
      March 11, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Smiling likke I was there

    Inthe... said:
    March 27, 2014 at 3:29 am

    What was the magic drug oooh? Watch it be saline…lol

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