Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Stepping Up


Tomorrow, I start work as a registrar. A registrar in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care, to give me my new job title. I'm about to make the step up from the ranks of "the junior doctors" to "the middle grades"

I’m starting a new job, in a new hospital (in fact, at TheBigTeachingHospitalDownTheRoad) with a greatly increased level of responsibility. I’ve now completed the transition from being “the doctor who knows when to get help” to being “the help.” Previously, I’ve known that if I found myself in a situation that could get out of control; that I could call on the anaesthetic registrar to come and bail me out. Now, I’m the bail out person and there’ll be no one around to bail me out if things go wrong. That thought is pretty scary.

It feels like I’ve come a hell of a long way in what seems like a vanishingly short period of time. Two years ago, I gave my first simple anaesthetic to a patient. From tomorrow, I’m going to be expected to look after the intensive care unit out of hours. I’m going to be expected to know what to do with all the life-support machines that the patients are on. I’m going to be expected to manage all the various inotropic infusions, the ventilators, the haemofilters and dialysis machines. I’m going to be expected to know what to do with intra-cranial pressure bolts, jet oscillators and all manner of complicated things. To be honest with you, I’m a bit worried.

I’ve got a slightly empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I’m standing on the top of a very high building, leaning over the edge. I’ve had this feeling before, I recognise it well. I had it when my Dad was driving me down for my first day of university. I had it the first time I stepped into a hospital as a medical student. I certainly had it on my first day of work as a doctor. I had it the first time I was fast-bleeped to A&E resus as a medical SHO. I had it the first time I was on-call for anaesthetics, and tonight, I’ve got it again.

It’s partly the fear of the unknown, but it’s mostly the fear of what can go wrong. It’s the fear of hurting people, of doing the wrong thing, of not being able to help someone who needs my help.

Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, I don’t feel anywhere near as scared as I did on my first day as a doctor. I actually feel that things are going to be OK for me and for my patients. I know that the consultants and the nurses will know that I’m new and that they won’t be expecting miracles from me. I know that I need to ask about things that I don’t understand, and I have a feeling that I’ll be asking a hell of a lot of questions initially. Given a choice, I would have preferred to have another six months as an anaesthetic SHO, but our training is not set up that way and I’ve got to make the step up now.

So here I am, swotting up on the Surviving Sepsis Bundles and wondering how I’m going to cope tomorrow when I walk on to the intensive care unit as “the new reg.”

Work is about to get a hell of a lot more interesting…

8 comments:

Oliver Smith said...

Best of luck to you. I'm sure your medical education and training to date will well quip you for your new job. Nerves before a big change are normal!

brokenangel said...

Good luck for tomorrow you know your ready really. Thanks for reminding me tomorrow is possibly the most dangerous day in the year to get hurt.

Jo said...

Congratulations and good luck. You will be brilliant!

PaedsRN said...

A surprising amount of ICU practice is down to common sense. Don't forget to form good relationships with the ICU nurses, who will not expect you to be up to speed from the word go, and who can let you know what works and what doesn't.

It's a learning curve, but it can be a hell of a lot of fun :) My domain is PICU, and I wouldn't work anywhere else. Best of luck!

Adam said...

Good Luck! I'm not sure 'The Junior Doctor' is going to be appropriate soon ;-)

Renal said...

Best of luck mate, at least it's a teaching hospital and there should be a good handful of colleagues around.

I did ITU as a student at a large teaching hospital where ITU had a team of 6 senior registrars, 6 senior SHOs and a couple of clinical fellows of various grades.

I now work at a hospital where the ITU doctor is the anaesthetic reg on call and hence changes day to day - glad it's not me.

Stephen said...

Good Luck!

Adi said...

Good luck with the new post. I'm sure you'll do well. Pretty sure your used to the pressure by now ;)