Medicine was a career choice that I made when I was nine. I had no doctors in my family. In fact I didn’t know that much about it at all, but somehow there was never another option. It was always medicine. And so, I did what I had to in order for that to happen.
At school I applied myself, worked hard and got good grades. At university I did the same. Medicine excited me. There was a passion that I can’t describe, a love of everything that it represented.
After I graduated and began working on the wards, I maintained the same excited enthusiasm. I would happily pick up extra shifts, not for the money, but for the feeling of belonging to a team and pitching in. I genuinely enjoyed being there. I relished the relationships with patients and their families. It gave me a sense of purpose, of worth.
Over time, my experience in the NHS opened my eyes to a different facade of medicine. I am not naturally a leader, certainly not in a social setting, in fact I try to blend into the background when sitting around a busy dinner table. Somehow on the ward, that social anxiety completely dissipates. I become a leader and thrive on it. I strive to improve patient care, to support my colleagues, to teach the medical students. I am engaging and confident. Well, I was…
The current climate of NHS began to grind me down. The hurdles, the barriers, the tick boxes. I was morphing into a service provider. My individuality was being stripped away. I felt more and more like a fish finger on a conveyor belt to consultancy.
The general negativity on the wards fueled my pessimism. The moaning, grumbling and reluctance among junior doctors and nurses were growing. There were significant rota gaps, an obligation to cover colleagues who were off and a sense of having to perform and behave in a certain way. As a thirty odd year old professional, I felt like a school child. Being a doctor no longer felt like a vocation or a passion. In fact I had grown to despise my job and everything about the system that I worked in.
I was burnt out. Worn out. Exhausted. Depressed.
A year later, as I embark on my return to medicine, I wonder whether I can reignite the passion, ambition and excitement that I used to have.
How much passion do you have left for medicine? Can being a doctor just be a job?