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Showing posts from January, 2015

A letter to my patient with cancer

Dear patient, 

I hope this letter finds you well. 
It seems foolish to ask if you remember me. I'm sure you couldn't forget me if you tried. I'm the centrepiece of the worst memory of your life. I was the doctor who broke the news you were dreading, that you had cancer. Stage 4 cancer, incurable cancer. 
I'm sure you'd recognise me if you saw me in a crowded room. My face was the last thing you saw before you lost hope. My face destroyed your world. 
When you're a doctor, telling a patient they are dying gets easier. It does. In fact, with time some doctors seem to forget that even though this is the hundredth or the thousandth cancer for them, it's their patients first cancer. You didn't know this then, but your cancer was my first cancer as well. Since that conversation I've diagnosed many more cancers, and I've told many more patients they are dying, but your story has stayed with me. Your story, I'm sure, will stay with me for the rest of my…

About to become a real doctor?

Here's a little list for the panic attack you'll have the night (or the week) before starting internship. Things you need to do to prepare for your first day as a real doctor:

1.   Find your 'system' 

Remember when you used to imagine that after graduation it would be all life saving & meaningful doctoring? I hope this isn’t the first time you’ve been told that’s not the case. The best quote I can use to summarise internship is this:

‘I’m okay at treating heart failure, but I’m excellent at sending faxes’ 

The best interns aren’t the most brilliant clinically, they are the most organised. Hopefully you spent a bit of time in final year med school observing junior doctors systems and have seen what works and what doesn’t. The same system doesn’t work for everyone, but these are the basics: A paper-storing mechanism  Option 1: Lots of people use 'nerd boxes' like this which have a handy clip to attach your patient list at the front, and can store various papers…