In Which I Spend 900 Hours in A&E

If only the title could be 1000 for the pleasing sound of it! It’s been awhile. I’m not much good at this whole commitment-to-blogging malarkey but recently I’ve been feeling the lack of a place to spout verbiage so I’m back, for what it’s worth.

I’m currently an A&E doctor. This means I have lots of random days off, none of which are weekends, and that at least half of the rest the time I am on nights. Working every other weekend is a bit crap, nights every two-and-a-half weeks is crapper, and random days off are lovely provided you like spending time alone. I’d say I cope quite well being alone for goodly periods but even I am running out of TV shows to watch when it’s raining outside and I’m shattered.

Time at work flies, beyond anything I have ever done. You drop yourself into the shift and a whirl of faces and examinations and results and then the shift is over and you’re left blinking in the daylight. Ignore the rota and I love the work – you see things from little Jimmy’s hurty finger to full-on 5-person car accidents, and everything in between. One minute you’re transferring someone to another hospital for neurosurgery and the next you’re relocating someone’s dislocated shoulder (I got to do that and it is probably the second-coolest thing I’ve done after defibrillating someone). Best thing about it is that you never know what is next. Second-best is that if you have a bad case, after 4 hours it is no longer your problem – you’ve either sent them home or you’ve referred them on to someone else. It is the perfect job for someone with a short attention span. You might be able to tell from the now-and-again approach to this blog that I am one such person.

And yes, you can feel the pressure. Even in my relatively quiet, well-staffed emergency department there is pressure – full waiting rooms, the calls to resus, every patient with their time of arrival, breach time, waiting for bloods, waiting for x-ray. It’s a busy place, and there are time-wasters – dear god, people: the sign is on the door. Have you had an accident (and I mean recently, not that pain you’ve had after you fell over last month) or are you in an emergency? If not, go make an appointment with your GP. Argh!

Would I do it as a career? I don’t know. The work is fun, there are satisfying procedures, the team spirit is incredible. The rota is brutal and doesn’t much improve. The government treats you like dirt. You’ll still be doing nights regularly at the age of 65, and the pay (compared with most other specialties, admittedly) is poor. There are already entire weeks when Partner in Climb and I never see each other, despite living in the same house – do you want that when you have a family?

Would I do it as a career? I have 900 hours to decide.

The A and E system will collapse if the government is not very, very careful

Last year, the College of Emergency Medicine filled 37% of the registrar training posts – 63% of ST3 posts across the country are without an emergency medicine trainee right now. Is that a level of pressure you want to step in to?



3 responses to “In Which I Spend 900 Hours in A&E

  1. Yeahh! Blog more! It’s like real-life Grey’s Anatomy. I lost all my doctor friends after first year when they decided that doctors stick together and many of my friends now are office-types, so I find it really interesting to hear this perspective from someone a similar age, in a completely different working environment.

  2. “Musings of a second-year medic” is no longer the right by-line for this blog! Ditto what Flix said – a view into your world is fascinating. Almost everyone else I know sits at a desk 9-5.
    We’ve discussed previously, however, that the lifestyle pushes your personal life back – you graduate long after non-medic friends have jobs, and as you said above, shift work is not an ideal environment in which to start a family…

  3. It’s brutal and it made me very cynical and quite hard. You see the worst of humanity on a daily basis and get quite jaded. Enjoy it whilst you are there and find something that allows you to have at least 3 out of 4 weekends to yourself.

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