The New Generation

*blows cobwebs away*

Are you all still out there?

My absence from the Internet has been mostly because I’ve had some annual leave. I’ve not been away or done anything particularly, but I’ve caught up on a lot of sleep and read books and baked things and spent time with the cats and gone to the seaside, and altogether had an agreeably lazy couple of weeks. It was a sign that I’ve been away for longer than I usually am when I went back to work on Monday and had forgotten all my computer passwords and the phone number for the biochemistry lab.

I am not built to be a permanent lady of leisure, though, and it is good to be back at work.

Today, I was given my very own medical student.

As you may remember from when I did them, my medical school holds finals in March, and the post-finals part of fifth year is taken up with classes on how to be a good doctor and then a final few weeks of hospital placement spent with an F1. There are a lot of useful things about doing that last placement. I think especially for students who have been more in the major teaching hospitals and less in the district generals way the heck out in the middle of nowhere, because for those students it might well be the first time they’ve really been much with juniors rather than trotting around after consultants. Hell, I did spend almost all of my fourth year in district generals way the heck out in the middle of nowhere and I spent a lot of time then with F1s, but, by the time Preparation for Practice rolled around, I had just spent the better part of six months hiding away in the library, which mattered a lot for passing finals and mattered not very much at all for learning how to actually do my job. And then there’s the other nice thing about doing a placement like this, which is that the students who are staying in this Deanery after graduation get to do it in the hospital that is going to be their hospital. There’s a lot to be said for having the chance to learn where the toilets are and where the coffee is and how to use the phones before you turn up to work.

My medical student is wonderful and I think, in so far as you can think anything after nine hours, that he is probably going to be a very good F1.

He kept me a jobs list during the ward round, which I missed a lot of because I spent most of it getting progressively more frustrated with a hospital in England, to the great amusement of my ward pharmacist (“His notes are on microfilm? Yes, I know it was 2007. It was 2007, not the Stone Age!”). And when he gave me the jobs list, he also said, “I’ve done this and this, and that hasn’t been done yet but I took it to radiology and they’ll do it this afternoon.” And then he chased all my bloods and wrote them in the notes. And he did it all without needing to be asked.

I like that I have someone who is competent and cheerful and eager to learn things, and not because it makes my life a bit easier for a few weeks, but because when I really thought about it, I realised that what I’m doing is training my replacement.

This is all very bittersweet in a way that I didn’t expect.

It’s weird, to start with, to look at someone else who is now where I was this time last year and to see that I really am a different person and a different doctor — a better doctor, I hope — than I was last summer. And to look at my SHOs, who were my F1s just after my finals, and to see how much they’ve changed, too, and to think about how much more I’m going to change in the next twelve months.

And then there’s the other part, which is that I won’t be here in August.

I’m doing my F2 year in a different hospital. I chose that. I chose when I applied to FPAS to not stay in the same place for two years, and I think that was the right choice. I also think, although this isn’t wholly relevant, that I chose to do it the right way around. But even though I know that I chose to do these things for good reasons — I love my hospital.

And that’s it, right there, that’s the hard part.

I could dispense lots of advice about how to sweet talk radiologists and how to present someone on a post-take ward round versus on the phone at three o’clock in the morning and how to not leave an on-call weekend with worse renal failure than the patients, and I will. I will dispense all of that advice.

But I’ve loved my job and I love my hospital, and all I really want to tell any of them is that I’m handing over my baby and that I’d really rather they didn’t break it.



  1. What a great post. You deserve a break given the amount of hard work you put (in both your paid and voluntary work).

    Just remember to block out a chunk of your holiday every year to do this.

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