Saturday, May 7, 2011

I think I've got it all figured out!

Okay, so a big claim to make... but at times, amongst the choas and confusion that comes with having to make a million and one choices about life, career, holidays, etc, there are moments (probably short-lived) when one feels like they've got it all figured out.

For starters - application for medical internship positions in NSW opened yesterday. It's been a horrendous task deciding how to preference the 15 or so networks on offer because really, at the end of the day, you could end up with preference 1 or preference 9 (for the past 3 years 100% of first round allocations were within the first 9 preferences). So you have to be realistic about deciding which places you'd be happy working in, even if they're not your first preferences. I chose to preference based on geography (hospitals close-ish to where I live), but also taking into considerations places that have accredited vocational (specialist) training programs that you're interested in. At the end of the day, I wouldn't be thrilled getting preferences 7, 8 or 9, but it wouldn't be the end of the world either. I haven't put in my official application yet as I need to get a letter from the university confirming my enrolment and potential graduation status, so hopefully will do that in the next couple of weeks. Beyond the anxiety and stress of this completely random allocation system, it's so exciting to be applying for a "real" job (and really, for me this is the first job that I have applied for since getting my job at the pharmacy 10 years ago!).

Next up - thinking seriously and realistically about specialities. Still a bit early, but it does help to have an idea as it could influence where you preference higher for internship hospitals (ie some hospitals have better a reputation than others when it comes to certain specialities). So I've been going backwards and forwards between emergency medicine and O&G; but since starting my anaesthetics rotation 2 weeks ago, I've disregarded both!! Anaesthetics is it, really I just know it! A few years ago, at the end of my first year of medical school, I went on a 2 week elective to Fiji where, while on a surgical rotation, saw anaesthetics in practice for the first time. It was then that I thought anaesthetics could be for me; but with little exposure since, I hadn't really considered it to any great deal. Having just finished gynae surg in the rotation prior to this, I'm now fair sure that at least the G part of O&G is definitely NOT for me. I was so disinterested and just plain bored by the end of the rotation; even though I applied myself as much as I could (I really did!!).. but it got me thinking and moving away from O&G in light of this. Also didn't help that I went to Phuket straight afterwards, which then got me thinking even more about how much I value my holidays and travelling, that I truely appreciated how offensive a career in O&G would be to one's leisure time :-S Anyway, this rotation couldn't have come at a better time. It's been priceless having consultants and registrars on board to talk to about the training program and what is involved in the way of time commitments during and after training. Also the rotation itself has been a good mix of the practical and theoretical. I got my first ET intubation this week! I tried 3 times without success but can now proudly say that I have done a few (4 in fact!) successful intubations. I've also gotten some invaluable practice in other skills (more essential for an intern) such as supporting an airway and ventilating in the correct way using jaw thrust, sealed mask and bag; as well as some much-needed practice in cannulating. Between cases, my supervisors have all gone out of their way to give me tutorials on the basics of anaesthetic theory which have helped demystify what is otherwise a potentially complex area of medicine. I wish this rotation was longer than just 4 weeks - I would love to go into greater detail with the theory and learn new skills.

This brings the third area which I've (sort of) finally organised - my elective term. It'll be my last elective as a medical student, I always thought I would go somewhere totally out of this world; picturing in my mind an imagine of my hands buried elbow-deep in someone's open thoracic cavity, heroically performing a cardiac massage (I have no idea where I even got this image from - I don't even want to become a surgeon let alone a CT surgeon!). Lots of people from my year are going to Africa, some even braving the likes of Bara in Jo'burg - but now that it's come to it, I've found myself not really that ready or compelled to take on such an adventure. So I thought long and hard (well, not that long and hard as you will see) and have decided to return to Fiji one more time, to where it all began, and complete an elective in anaesthetics - this time with a little bit more knowledge and wisdom than last. I'm very excited actually, it almost feels like a home-coming. I made a lot of friends and met some wonderful characters when I was there last, so it will be nice to see them all again. Another thing, this time I plan on travelling around and experiencing Fiji culture away from Suva. I've set my sights on booking a 7-night diving trip with Tui Tai expeditions, to venture out away from the tourist tracks that tend to be quite numerous around Fiji.

Anyway, much to look forward to! On a toned-down note - I have a mid-year exam in about 10 days that I have done absolutely no study for. So on that note I will leave you, and probably check back in again before I head off to Mudgee for my third John Flynn Placement.


  1. It was great reading your post. I definitely hope you get the preference you prefer most, if that makes sense. There's definitely a lot on your mind but I won't remind you. All the best for your upcoming examination.

  2. Good luck with your preferences! I'd be really interested to hear more about why anaesthetics is 'the one' for you, other than the lifestyle factor... as I am also considering emergency, and will be checking out O&G in a couple of weeks. Congrats on the ET tubes, and good luck with your exam!

  3. All of this is fantastic news, Miss PS! Most particularly your happiness in finding a specialty that 'fits' you! I hope the internship lottery treats you well, though with the goal of becoming an anaesthetist I suppose that means you can be a bit more flexible than some of your peers? Of course I will cross every finger I have for you to get a hospital close to home.

    Would love to know more about why you love anaesthetics so much :)