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The first challenge of being a doctor was finding my way around the hospital. I was never very good with maps or finding places and moving to a new hospital was certainly no different. In fact, so bad was my fear that I made my mum come with me a month before I started just to ‘get to know the city and the area’.
If you think I’m exaggerating, ask any of my school friends and they’ll vouch that I have the extra-ordinary ability to get lost anywhere! I even got lost in my own home village. A village that has a church, a field and like one shop.
In fact here’s a picture of my village:
So, you can understand that my fear of getting lost was top priority the first day I was on-call. Now, an on-call is a shift which normally involves the doctor to carry a bleep, attend sick patients on the wards and go to any emergency calls. On this particular day, I had smartly remembered to carry spare pens, a water bottle and wear a dress with pockets so I wasn’t carrying anything. The day went as normal. No major incident. But then my bleep went off and as I was listening, my heart in my mouth, I suddenly realised I had no idea where the heck I was supposed to go.
‘Cardiac outpatients’ the voice went round and round in my head. I walked briskly out of my ward and started on any random corridor.
“Excuse me,” I asked a woman in uniform…“Where is cardiac outpatients?” All the time, my mind was spiralling out of control. What if the patient was bleeding? What if they were really unwell.
She took absolutely ages to answer. She even went to ask her colleague. I was internally screaming: “It’s an emergency! Hurry up!”
When I got there – 6 minutes later. The registrar smiled at me. Maybe my face gave it away. I was panicking. But she told me ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it’.
Last week I was on a weekend on-call. I have now been a doctor in the National Health Service (NHS) for two months. In the grand scheme of things, two months is nothing. But to me it was the difference between running around like a headless chicken and feeling like I can do this.
I got a bleep:
“Doctor, patient’s respiratory rate is 38 and can’t breathe.”
It was 4:30 pm on a Saturday. I dropped my lunch and raced to the ward. I knew we needed oxygen, we needed some blood tests and we needed help now.
Later on that week, one of my colleagues told me that the nurse thought I’d done a great job. Maybe my face gave it away. I was calm. And I didn't get lost. I guess, like anything, you get used to it.
By Vitasta Raina
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