Every night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

February 1, 2009 rooroo

It was a pretty and clear day in a drab London teaching hospital, and I was sat in the office of a very nice consultant. He was about to give me some of the best advice to take me through medical school: find a role model in medicine, someone you can look back on in your training process with admiration and use them as a guide.

 Looking back on the years I have been tallying up, I still think fondly of this doctor who gave such good advice. There’s often such a lack of continuity in training – from the quality of teaching (if we get any) to memorising the route from theatre to the changing rooms. Most often, it’s something to deal with, but sometimes it can get you down, especially if the staff members you’re dealing with are not always as professional as they should be.

I keep short vignettes of former lovers so that when I’m old and senile, I can look back fondly on my youth and remember intricate little details that I had forgotten. That is, if I can remember the password that I used to protect those documents. I’ve started to do the same with great doctors (and other health professionals) I’ve encountered as a ‘constant,’ (see Lost season 4) to remind me when times are though that there are decent normal people out there.

I’ll start with Dr H who gave me this initial advice.


It was my second module and I was really struggling with clinical medicine. At my lowest point, I spent an hour in the evening, crying in the ladies loos. The weather was dark, depressing and cold. I was coming home to a mouldy house which was falling apart, and our landlord had just informed us that he was selling up. The same week, B and I were driving home and we saw a woman being mugged on our street. Company loves misery.  

I had to get a form signed off by Dr H, so I rang his office. He was about to do some teaching on x-rays and invited me up for the session. I had been having a lot of confidence issues, but had really made an effort for the last 3 weeks of MAU hoping that the team would notice. After the session he signed my form off and we had a chat. He told me that from what his staff had told him, they had absolutely no worries about my competence or clinical performance. He told me that if I ever wanted to spend more time in the department, he would happily have me back, and all I had to do was email him – this included if I was in my final year. I spent the afternoon dancing on endorphins.


It wasn’t necessarily what he said (although I still think it was important) but it was the first time in clinics where I had really felt a bit of human kindness from a superior. When you’re feeling low anyway, the other insignificant snippy stuff gets to you, and up until then I had still felt the sting of the previous module: the eye-rolling registrar who expected me to know as much as he did, getting very little teaching, having a locum hang up on me twice, and no meetings with my mentor as he outrightly said in front of the team he didn’t give a shit about that and the professor I had to meet with several times throughout the year to get a form signed – our first meeting and I was tallying up times he was looking at my breasts. Don’t think we don’t notice.

Having someone to look up to and think back on fondly makes the insignificant stuff so wonderfully insignificant. Of course, medics will all have views on what makes a good role model. One of my pre-requisites is, “Seems relatively normal, wouldn’t expect them to tell me they were a doctor if we met in public.” Maybe that’s a little unfair, dog knows what people think of me!


Entry Filed under: free range rude, med school, musings

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