Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Cushy Number

When I was a junior hospital doctor (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as Gsog would say) we worked ridiculously long hours, often while distinctly sleep-deprived. You would be involved in medical receiving, clerking in multiple admissions, have about 1 hour's "sleep"; have to take all the blood samples from the patients that you had admitted (phlebotomists hadn't been invented); then present them to the nicely rested consultant on the ward round. Surgical house jobs were not any better, and I well remember almost falling asleep standing up while assisting at an emergency cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). Although these working conditions were deplorable and in some cases downright dangerous, they certainly made sure you knew what was happening to your patients: primarily because you rarely left them! There was also a definite camaraderie, a "war time spirit", engendered between juniors on the same team.

I was interested to read this article about how beneficial the reduction in junior doctors hours has been, and there is no doubt that, in many ways, it has been A GOOD THING. I think it is true, however, that continuity of care is less good with juniors working a shift system, and I don't think there is the same team spirit that we had in our day.

Old fogeys, like myself, tend to feel that juniors these days have a pretty cushy number compared with what we had in our day, but in general they don't seem any happier than we were!