Friday, 5 May 2017

31 thoughts whilst watching 'Confessions of a Junior Doctor'

If you haven't heard of Confessions of a Junior Doctor, it's a real-life TV series on Channel 4 showcasing the lives of junior doctors and the current strains on the NHS. Some of my friends have told me to watch it, and others have warned me against it in case it puts me off being a doctor. This evening I decided to take the plunge and watch the first episode, and here are some thoughts that I had whilst watching it:

1) Oh God, this is going to be my life from August.
2) Oh God, I start work on the first Wednesday in August.
4) "They'll [the junior doctors will] welcome us into the world. They will be there at the end." The circle of lifeeeeeee! (sorry)
5) How will I cope with my first cardiac arrest?
6) "To survive as a junior doctor you must have courage". What happens if I'm not brave enough?
7) What will we do if the NHS collapses? It can't survive the way it's going at the moment.
8) What if I can't cope with the pressure and workload?
9) What if I can't cope with the long hours and lack of sleep?
10) I'm going to have patients' lives in my hands.
11) What if I can't get blood from a patient and it's really embarrassing?
12) What if I make a patient cry?
13) What if I cry?!
14) I might be the only doctor on my ward on my first day. What happens if I don't know what to do?
15) I've never inserted an NG tube and this F1 is doing one by herself on her first day...
17) Much more dramatic than in real life. Cardiac arrests and acute situations in real life can be quite underwhelming.
18) What if I really hate the job and it gets too much?
19) What if I get depressed again because I can't cope with the stress?
20) What if I get attached to a patient and they die?
21) What if I could have done more?
22) I don't like that I can't take the time to sit down and listen to my patients as a doctor. It's a luxury that I have as a medical student at the moment.
23) What if I'm so busy that I can't do my best for my patients?
24) It never feels this busy or under-staffed when I'm on placement. Perhaps this is over-dramatised, or perhaps I just don't notice it as a medical student because I don't have as much responsibility.
25) Am I going to have a social life?
26) This is going to be such a hard job.
27) I hope I can really use my own experiences and help people with mental health problems.
28) Breaking bad news to patients and their family is going to be one of the hardest parts of the job.
29) What happens if I'm so tired that I miss things or make mistakes?
30) Palliative care is such a rewarding specialty. I would seriously consider it as my future career.
31) Being a doctor is such a privilege. Patients open up to you and trust you with their lives.

Overall, the programme did not put me off being a doctor in the slightest. As we go through medical school, we are warned about the hard side of being a doctor, but we also receive so many positive stories too. Most of the doctors I speak to love their jobs. I know that the NHS is going through a really hard time at the moment, and that something needs to change (i.e. it needs a lot more money and staff). But I also know that Confessions of a Junior Doctor is part of the media, and it is going to over-dramatise certain situations to make good TV.

I liked that the programme really showed how hard junior doctors work, and some of the situations that they have to deal with. It is going to be a really difficult job, but I'm hoping that at the end of the day I will come away feeling like I have achieved something, and that I have helped someone. At the end of the day, that's what being a doctor is all about.
Listen to your own voice, your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world, instead of themselves.


  1. Ah girl, I'm not so close to being an actual doctor but that show gives me all these feels and more! I low key feel like I'm gonna cry whenever I have to give a patient bad news, I have too many feelings sometimes! I'm sure it's something that comes with practise though :) x

  2. A few of my consultants asked if I'd watched it and what I thought. To me, it's seems edited to make things look far more dramatic than they really are day to day. First cardiac arrest? Most likely to actually be a vasovagal!! And if not, you're never on your own. Yes, sometimes the hours are long but actually it is definitely possible to go home on time once you've learned where to be efficient and predict what needs to be done. Yes we "have patients' lives in our hands" - but we're sharing that with our seniors and the nursing staff and are never acting alone. I've missed getting blood lots of times! Patients almost never mind if you just say sorry, politely ask if you can try again. And if you miss again? Just ask someone else - we've all been there and sometimes just a fresh pair of eyes is all that's needed. It's ok to cry, it's a emotional job at times and you're human. My bets on that NG tube? It's either not really her first day, or she's got a registrar off camera talking her through it! As an F1 it's fine not to have done things before, just show willing to learn and ask to be taught to do things. (Plus basically all the NG tubes at my hospital are done by nurses anyway). I've had weeks where I genuinely hated the job. When my FY2 friend asked how I liked the rotation, I was honest. Turned out she hated it too right then! A bit of moral support and a good deal of googling other jobs helped me realise I was not alone in this and that there were other options. Then things got better again and I realised I did quite like the job after all! It's really sad when a patient you know well dies, but there's a satisfaction in knowing you took good care of them and actually it's a reminder that we're all human - it's feels weird when someone dies who I didn't know well and I don't feel anything much. Even when you're busy, you'll recognise the patients that you need to spend time with and you can do this. It's as an important use of time as anything else. If you're getting so busy you feel care is being compromised, tell your supervisors. Yes, the show just put back to back drama! Most of a junior doctor's working day would make very boring TV. Who wants to watch me write discharge letters or call the microbiology lab?! Yes, you can definitely have a social life - and make sure you do. Sure, it's demands a little more flexibility but it's important. Again, everyone makes mistakes but because you don't work alone they get spotted. And if you're genuinely feeling too tired to work safely, stop for a few minutes. Eat, drink and just rest for a bit. The palliative care nurses are my favourites and the palliative team are amazing. Learn lots from them. Yes, there's no job quite like being a doctor. Every now and then I reflect on it and have a moment of "wow, my job is awesome!"

    Jennifer x

  3. I'm so glad the show didn't put you off! As scary as becoming a doctor would be, I imagine the rewards will be incredible. Good luck for August!

    Steph -