House officer’s survival guide
With all the publicity about “stress” that House officers are facing these days (and even parents writing in), one wonders if what a colleague and facebook friend of mind terms the “Strawberry generation” is an apt description for our current lot of HOs.
The best way to prepare yourself for Housemanship is to
1 ) Have the right attitude. Be humble. Just because you have an MBBS does not mean you can throw your weight around the wards now. HOs are still at the lowest of the low in the medical heirachy. Yes, you have to listen to everyone including the nursing sisters and even the ward attendants who know much more about how things run than you greenhorns.
2 ) Be prepared to work hard. This is a no-brainer. You knew that housemanship is going to be tough, right?
3 ) Be responsible. Do not shirk your duties. This is a serious sin and you are letting down your patients, possibly jeopardising lives and expect to be seriously disciplined (this is NOT the same as bullying)
4 ) Always ask or call for help if you are not sure or in trouble. Do not be a super hero, you are not one. You cannot lose here. Even if your MO is dumb, at least you get someone to share the blame.
5 ) Admit your ignorance and mistakes. Honesty is the best policy.
6 ) Don’t let the case summaries pile up. Work does not go away, it only accumulates.
7 ) Smile. Yes, despite the hardship, a smile will lighten those up around you – colleagues and patients. Always be courteous. Actions get a similar reaction and if you put on a sour face, don’t expect others to behave nicely towards you.
8 ) Learn and never stop enjoying accumulating knowledge. Housemanship is only part of a lifelong career in medicine. We all learn something everyday. If you can strive to just learn something new each day – be it a procedure a new medical fact – appreciate it, cherish it and there will never be a dull day.
Lastly, arm yourself with some tools – smartphones with medical references (especially drugs – never be caught with your pants or panties down not knowing dosages or interactions). If you don’t have a smartphone, get a cheap iPod Touch. Lots of iOS medical apps there to help you. On a related note, I found this House Officers guide (Word format) from Gerald Tan’s site which also contains links to other useful documents for HOs and junior doctors. While written for Singaporeans, I think the scenario is pretty much similar to Malaysia.
Update: If you are equipped with an iOS or Android smartphone, you can also download a free app for House Officers which will help you manage your day to day tasks in the wards. More details here
If you are a HO (hey you got time to read this meh?) so how are you finding housemanship? Is there really any bullying as alleged in the press? Tell us as comments to this post.