I was terrified prior to my ED rotation. My only ED experience was at the beginning of third year at uni, i.e. my first clinical placement, when I had no self-confidence and felt like a moron the whole time.
Thankfully, the term was much better than expected. I enjoyed it (mostly), and ED even jumped into my list of possible careers. In hindsight, I’m not sure whether it’s still in the list, but we’ll see.
The one sticking point for me would be the hours – actually, not the hours so much as the inconsistency of the roster. You’re rostered for 80 hours a fortnight, and these can be rostered in any combination of days (8am-6pm), evenings (2pm-midnight), and nights (10pm-8am). I was constantly exhausted throughout the term. I never felt well-rested. Weekends off were rare, and we were so short-staffed that there were always additional shifts up for grabs, especially on weekends. Some fortnights you could work over 100 hours. Great money, of course, and I liked having days off during the week, because I could get things done like seeing my doctor, dentist, accountant, etc.
I was pleased with the level of support for interns. After working up each patient, we had to present to the staff specialist on duty (or one of the registrars if it was ridiculously busy), which meant that we were never working completely alone. If we were working in the Fast Track area (where you see patients who present with issues that should be dealt with quickly, such as traditionally GP-like problems), there was always a registrar to discuss the patients with.
I loved doing real medicine – taking histories, performing examinations, and doing procedures. I got on well with most of the nurses, although I found many of them intimidating at first!
With the good comes the bad, of course. There were several days where I berated myself for getting something wrong, or sounding like an idiot. After one particular night shift, I sobbed in the car for half an hour before driving home, and I cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion.
During the term, I got to spend some time in Paediatrics ED, which I loved. However, my worst moment of the term was performing CPR on an 11-year-old. It was unsuccessful.
If I'd written this post back in November, just after I'd finished the term, I'm sure I could've shared more interesting stories. But they've faded into the background now, as I'm focusing on my current rotation.
I’ve got another ED term coming up in June – my first term as a resident. I know I’ll feel much more confident heading into that term. And hopefully I’ll decide once and for all whether ED is in my future…
Term 3 is General Medicine in a rural hospital. Stay tuned.