“Dr. Lin, can I have a word please?”
Dr. Lin our college tutor which means that she is the person in charge of looking after the training of the junior anaesthetists in my hospital. I’ve worked with her a couple of times and she appears a pleasant lady. I want to speak to her about something that I’ve had on my mind for a long time now, but have only recently made a proper decision on.
Dr. Lin regales me with an even look and replies, “Certainly Michael, do you want to come through to my office?”
I follow her through to her little room and she clears a stack of patients’ records off her workspace and asks me “What can I do for you?”
I’ve been over this moment many times in my head and I figured the best thing for me to do is to just come straight out and say what I want to.
“I’d like to leave the rotation.”
I state the words simply. This is one of the biggest professional decisions I’ve made in my career and, to me, it feels like I’ve lit the blue touch paper. But there’s no fanfare, no fireworks, just a slightly surprised look in Dr. Lin’s brown eyes. I fill the silence.
“You see, my other half, she works in fashion and, as you can imagine, there’s been lots of job losses in retail over the past year or so. Anyway, she’s had to leave her job here and none of the retail firms are recruiting at the moment. She’s actually managed to get herself another job – one that’s actually better than the one she left – but it’s not here, it’s in London. London’s where all the big retailers have their head offices. She’s searched for a job round here and there really isn’t anything that she wants to do. So, she’s taken the job in the capital. She’s moved there already and I’d like to follow her.”
Dr Lin breaths out slowly, during one of our days working together, I chatted to her about my girlfriend and what she does, so she sort of knew a bit about our situation already. She takes her glasses off, slowly rubs her nose and speaks.
“You know Michael, I understand where you’re coming from. I think from my point of view, it’ll be a real shame to see you leave here. The other consultants and the secretaries all say good things about you, but if you want to leave…” her voice tails off and she sits back in her chair and sighs.
“You probably aren’t aware of this but one of my good friends was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and is now off work, probably for good. When something like that happens to someone you really know, it brings a lot of things home. It really makes you think about life and what’s really important. And I’ll tell you what’s important…” She’s more animated now, she sits forward in her chair and jabs her glasses in my direction.
“Health, happiness, love… these are things that are important. Turning up here at the hospital to work every day, that’s not important, not in the long term, but love is. So, like I say, I totally understand why you want to go and be with your girlfriend, you two have been together a while now haven’t you?”
“So of course I’ll support you when you want to leave.”
“Thank you,” is all I can say.
“Have you told the deanery about it yet?”
“Yes,” I reply. “I’ve already asked them what I need to do to transfer my number and I’m going to fill in the application form this weekend.
“Could I put you down as one of my referees?”
“Yes, of course you can.”
“Thank you very much Dr. Lin” I say once more and stand up and head for the door. I’m half way out when Dr. Lin says
“Oh, Michael.” I turn to see her with a conspiratorial smile playing on her lips. “Do you think that she’s the one?”
I give her a broad grin in return and say, “We shall see…”