An open letter to all first year house officers


via Dr. Eve Teo in the Dobbs Forum

Hi there Doctor,

Yes you. Not your registrar. Not your boss. Stop looking over your shoulder, you’re a Doctor now. Straighten your stethoscope and listen to a slightly more jaded junior doctor. Please.

If I can math correctly sleep deprived, you’re about 8 weeks in, yes? So whoever you are, you will have done long days, you will have done weekends.

You will have been exhausted and survived. Congratulations. (A bonus if all your patients have, sometimes shit happens. )

I hope you’ve felt proud of your admissions and plans. Even if they’re not remotely perfect. It’s not easy work, seeing and assessing people and coming up with treatment, however simple. Yes, even 1g paracetamol qid reg needs thinking and courage to implement. Well done.

I hope you’ve almost crapped yourself with worry. It shows that you care about your patients. I also hope that whether it was a simple decision you were agonising over (slowk? K+in ivf? Clorvescent?) or a complex one, it turned out well. And if it didn’t, I’m sure you’ve learnt heaps from it. Give yourself loads of credit.

I know you have had lots of coffee with colleagues, be it free lousy styrofoam cup coffee or proper trim flat whites. And i really hope that you have put your job list aside and not discussed work for some of these sessions. Because your workmates are your sanity savers and so are you to your colleagues. Be there for each other. (That includes nurses and allied health, too!)

I hope you have had shared both laughter and tears with your patients. They are the ones that truely make the job worthwhile doing. I know you will remember that medical care is more than drugs and interventions. It is also, perhaps more importantly, about providing comfort, care, reassurance and love. And if you have sighted a dying patient, you will have done it carefully, and as respectfully as you could have(under your circumstances). Thank you.

I know many of you will still feel like you have not improved at all as a doctor. Or if you have felt improvement, it was agonisingly slow. Do not worry. I (and this have also been noticed in others) have felt that for the last 9 months. Then it felt like everything came together suddenly, magically. You will wake up one day feeling like a doctor, not a medical student playing dressup. Yes, most probably objectively its a process of gradual improvement, but subjectively is like you’re stagnating clinically. I can tell you right now, you aren’t. Hang in there.

I hope you have been keeping in good health. Remember, if you aren’t medically well yourself you won’t be doing the best doctoring, either. Do everyone a favour and just hit that dail button to Call In Sick if you’re unwell. And yes, having emotional or mood disturbances count as being ill. Get yourself a good, local GP if you haven’t already done so. Take care yourself, doc.

Above all, as a colleague, I truly appreciate your good work. Wherever you may be.

Thank you.


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast