Three months ago, I was on the verge of completing my internal medicine rotation and proceeding on my one-week leave, with thoughts of my next rotation – Paediatrics, caressing itself on the surface of my mind.
As an eight-year-old, I sagely declared to my mum’s listening ears that I would specialize in Paediatrics if I wanted to do something out of passion or choose Surgery for the money.
I knew it was Medicine, but the area of specialization, I was yet to settle for and different specialities beckoned on me for varying reasons.
After going through medical school, and being pulled in different directions – as I was the medical student that enjoyed pretty much every rotation – I was certain that my one-year internship would seal the deal for me and make my choice easier.
Following my Internal Medicine experience, I knew Internal Medicine wasn’t it for me. I found it monotonous, boring and a bit depressing – prognosis can be poor sometimes. I hated watching people die from complications of chronic diseases and a lack of money and being able to do little or nothing to change the course of their fate.
Surgery, on the other hand, I found time tasking. Even though I loved being in theatre, I hated going in in the middle of the night for emergencies.
I took a new interest in my childhood love, Paediatrics, and one time announced to a friend, ‘I hope I enjoy my Paediatrics rotation. If I don’t, I don’t know what I will do with my life.’ I meant it and the thought of it made me uneasy.
I looked forward to the posting with eagerness, determined to enjoy it come whatever may.
2nd day in Paeds. Work mirror selfie.
When my excitement met resistance in the first week of my Paediatrics rotation, I was not sure how to feel. I found the attitude of some residents repulsive but I didn’t associate their behaviour with the speciality.
I jocularly mentioned to my seniors while still in Internal Medicine, that I had found my preferred area of specialization.
When they asked which it was, and I replied, ‘Paediatrics,’ they said that I cannot be certain about that as I was yet to do the rotation in housemanship.
They were right, interning helps you put your choices in perspective.
As a medical student, I remember thinking to myself and sharing with my colleagues, that should I find my way back to Paediatrics, I will subspecialize in neonatology – the branch of medicine that deals with infants aged between 0 to 28 days old. Even though my friends reminded me that neonatology was stressful, I brushed off their concerns, telling them I loved it anyway.
What I soon noticed following my first children emergency call was the possibility of literally being up on your feet all through the night. Unlike adult medicine where you are called when needed, a doctor has to be present in the children emergency at all times – never too far to be reached. I found it physically and emotionally demanding.
I survived my first weekday and weekend children emergency calls in good shape.
By the following week, I was placed on my first neonatology call. Prior to resuming the call, I sought advice from my friend on what is expected from me during the call and how to go about them. I went in confidently. There was a surprise, I got around it in the end and what was supposed to be a smooth call had me thinking halfway, ‘Is this the neonatology I want to specialize in? I must have been kidding.’
I calmed myself soon enough by reassuring myself that I can’t make a good judgement based on my first-day experience. Frist days don’t always make the best of experiences. And as I have come to realize in house job: ‘Do not mistake inexperience for incompetence. Give yourself permission to grow and watch yourself fly afterwards.’
Following these, I got along pretty quick in Paediatrics. I found pleasure teaching the medical students and interacting with the residents – one in particular. I had depressing moments, fell ill and even obtained my first sick leave in house job while in the posting. Did you know I fainted one day at work? Hush, hush, don’t broadcast it. But all that contributed to making me the confident, knowledgeable and resilient doctor I am now.
I resume Obstetrics and Gynaecology posting today, my last posting in housemanship. I hear it is draining. Well, I want to believe I am built for it. I hope my hospital employs more house officers or more persons come to O&G. The more we are, the less intensive and frequent our calls will be – what is the real worry.
In three months I would have completed this phase. I am more excited than nervous. My past challenges and victories strengthen my faith in God’s sovereignty to see me through. I am determined to succeed and will do my best certain that life will reciprocate the gesture.
Until then, like everything else, I am taking life one day at a time and putting my best foot forward.
Did Paediatrics win my heart in the end? I enjoyed the posting and looked forward to work every day, even though it was hectic. Medicine in its entirety is stressful. My advice to anyone is to choose their favourite type of stress. Doing a speciality for the love of it makes it easier. That said, we live for the perks that come with the profession.
Now over to you. How is life treating you? Surviving or thriving? I hope it is the latter for all of us.
I will endeavour to show up more on this space even though I currently share more and easily on my Instagram when showing up here seems to be a bit uphill.
Please, share your thoughts with me in the comments.