My first day as Dr Aslam

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As most of my colleagues geared up for the infamous black Wednesday, according to my rota that was my day off.

Cue anticlimax and a few pangs of jealousy seeing the various social media messages about the first day at work.

It would be black Thursday for me then. Not quite the same ring, but equally as terrifying.

My day began freakishly quietly. I should have suspected something earlier.

The ward where I went for all of my shadowing was void of all doctors. They can’t all be late I thought. They weren’t — they were all in a different place. Cue mad dash, six flights of stairs later, and I finally made it to the right place.

Looking less composed that I had hoped to appear (outwardly at least) on my first day, no one seemed to notice me (thank goodness).

Back to the base ward to start any jobs, and get ready for the ward round. I had barely put my bag down when I was asked to prescribe an antiemetic for a patient.

Hardly the most dangerous drug, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by my compulsive checking of the British National Formulary.

The morning wasn’t so bad, until I offered to help someone out and spent around an hour trying to sort through a massive drugs list including those for Parkinson’s disease, which needed to be given at the correct time.

At one point, I felt like crying. A million drugs to write up, unknown doses, a confused patient and hypoglycaemia (that was just me, way past lunch time).

So, I started laughing and my new best friend, ‘Mr Ward Pharmacist’ joined me. Crying is time consuming and I couldn’t be bothered. Laughing made my first challenge easier.

Finally, I managed to get some lunch and chat with one of my friends, another F1, who was also flagging and had forgotten to drink water and so needed paracetamol for a headache.

Some STAT reading post work
Some STAT reading post work

Our patients were our priority and our own fluid balance and analgesia needs were definitely falling by the way side. If we were patients, our doctors would certainly be guilty of neglecting us.

Recharged somewhat, I went back to the ward. I was feeling quite happy at this point. Not too many jobs to do, just chasing a few bloods. But the problem is the abnormal bloods, which, as a doctor, are my responsibility to act on.

A low magnesium and several queries about setting up a magnesium infusion kept me more than entertained for the remained of the afternoon. As did the gazillion discharge summaries.

I finished at 6pm – two hours later than rostered — and would have been there longer if I didn’t say ‘I’m sorry you need to bleep someone else about that’. Ward work never ends. But my efficiency levels had by this point.

I can already see this F1 gig is going to be tiring and the monotony of ward jobs isn’t what most of us entered medicine for.

end of the week wind down
end of the week wind down

But there are definitely ways to make it enjoyable. I fully intend to celebrate every win — every successful cannula or blood take — because I know that there will be setbacks which tend to stick in the mind.

And remember to talk to patients (and say #hellomynameis) who will keep me going. There is always time to appreciate a patient’s fabulous dressing gown or slippers.

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