Friday, 2 March 2007

Our World Is Crumbling Around Us.

I was asked, 4 years ago, at my interview for medical school; "Why do you want to be a doctor?" The answer I gave had been well rehearsed but it was the whole truth. I mentioned a desire to help people, an interest in science and medicine since childhood, a wish to use my abilities to benefit society and a thought that a career in medicine would be challenging but rewarding at the same time which would suit me.

I was also asked "What do you think a career in medicine entails?" to which I replied something like this; "A lot of hard work and commitment for starters. You must have a desire for what you do, a wish to help people and an interest in life-long learning. A career in medicine is a long ladder from start to finish whereby you must progress up the ranks by furthering your knowledge. It is a secure career with safe job prospects.

Was I really that naive? When I applied I thought medicine would be a job for life. I was filling in my UCAS form whilst MMC was but a lightbulb above some bigwig's head. I look back now and think why did I even bother. Now in my fourth year, MMC has taken a firm hold of our profession and ripped it to shreads. I sit here wondering what my answers to those interview questions would be? Would I have even bothered entering the dragons den that is medical school had I known what I know now? Do I even still want to be a doctor?

Fortunately I can say with certainty that I do still want to be a doctor, whether or not i'll make it won't be so much up to me, more how the system decides. Many people would say I'm mad to still want to be a doctor. You only have to look at fellow bloggers to get an idea of the huge problems facing junior doctors today. HospitalPhoenix, is obviously a great surgeon, he has a passion for medicine, he was fearful of his future but was one of the lucky ones. Shiny Happy Person was less lucky her life in tatters, she faces an uncertain future. Dr Crippen has done a number of MTAS related posts outlining some of the discrepancies in the MTAS process.

In and around the hospital it seems everyone is aware of the problems, among them the MTAS disaster. Nurses keep saying "Get out whilst you still can!", midwives are asking "Why are you bothering?" Junior doctors, some of whom have interviews some who don't are heard debating emigrating, unemployment or changing career. Consultants are just as disapproving and can be heard ranting about the ludicrous methods of scoring application forms. One particular junior doctor was seen crying quietly in a corner on Monday, coming to terms with having no interviews and perhaps no career. She was in clinic at the time and had taken 5 minutes to check out her future on the MTAS website, 5 minutes after learning her fate she was back seeing patients, doing what she wants to do, what she deserves to do, what she is needed for but what the system might stop her doing come August.

I think the angry medic sums it up well:

"Some of my friends have advised me to switch to law and run whilst I can.
I'm seriously thinking of listening to them."

I keep hearing similar comments, perhaps we should all consider our future before its too late, we've already devoted years to this but with good doctors being kicked in the knackers at all stages of their careers why are we even bothering? Junior doctors are being treated atrociously and we as medical students have it all to come in the future. We [those of us who don't leave now for a better, more secure future] can only pray that the system is sorted by the time it is our turn. We should also keep our fingers, toes and any other appendages crossed for those currently drowning in the MTAS/MMC pool.

12 comments:

The Angry Medic said...

Thanks for the plug!

I forgot about that job security thing until I read this post. I'll readily admit (and so will any medic worth his balls) that job security and great career prospects were one of the factors that drew me to do medicine in the first place. Never in my wildest dreams did I realise that medicine in the UK would fail me in this respect.

Medicine, man. In the friggin UK, man. We're supposed to be the seat of medical education and bastion of learning and all that crap. Now we're just crap.

HospitalPhoenix said...

Ah... well... what can I say?

It's all about the way you look at it. I have interviews, but not in my own region, so I'll inevitably be selling up in the summer. SHP is in the same situation.

Those going into the second round could potentially have a great choice of jobs if the first round allocations f*ck up.

Then again, maybe not.

But once we've all accepted that our lives are being turned upside down and there's precious little we can do about it except look on the bright side, life will become a little more relaxed.

I think a good vintage Bordeaux is the way to deal with all of life's ills. It hasn't done me too badly so far at any rate.

Cal said...

Horrendous, and so unfair to everyone.

I hope the system changes by the time I go through it...

Harry said...

I have an interview on Tuesday and was thinking of saying something along those lines if they asked me. I guess I could instead talk about current affairs with the MMC problems. Thanks for highlighting that one for me!

Then again, is it even worth going to med school??

ShadyCharacter said...

Why don't you guys simply come over to the US? You'll make great money and hold a respected position in society. You'll make enough money that you can hop a flight every couple of months once you start pining for the UK.

ShadyCharacter said...

I do have a favor to ask though. Once you get here make sure you vote Republican. If you vote for the Democrats you'll just usher in the NHS socialized medicine nightmare over here too.

DundeeMedStudent said...

hmm maybe a PhD may have been a good plan.

The Angry Medic said...

I was thinking of moving over to the US too actually. But dang, are the Democrats really for socialised medicine? Oh bollocks. I thought that Obama fellow seemed like such a nice guy.

Little Medic: congrats on the BritMeds mention!

ShadyCharacter said...

angry, they sure are. In fact, they hold the UK, Canadian and even Cuban =) systems up as beacons of perfect and equitable medical systems. Hillary Clinton's most famous political initiative was the failed HillaryCare plan in the mid-nineties. Her husband put her in charge of a health care panel which came up with a complete one-payer health system ala NHS. Completely demolished by the Republicans and doctors groups.

We'll see what happens if she gets the nod in 2008.

On the positive side, just as gun owners in the US can look to the british experience to see the end game for "sensible gun policies" (i.e. complete confiscation and no guns for any reason, hunting, sport shooting or self-defense) and thus fight tooth and nail against even minor restrictions, so to doctors in the US can look north to Canada or across the pond to the UK to see the horrors of a single-payer system.

Ian said...

Hey nice blog you have here, would you be interested in featuring on our student blogroll?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to life - in many areas of work, people study for years and then the jobs dissapear becuase of technology. At least you'll still have a job.

Aphra Behn said...

Anonymous, that's the point. For doctors who have already started their specialist training, it was a one-chance saloon. They cannot reapply next year

I've read a lot about MTAS and MMC these last few weeks. Every now and again a specific story makes me cry. This one did that today.

>> One particular junior doctor was seen crying quietly in a corner on Monday, coming to terms with having no interviews and perhaps no career. She was in clinic at the time and had taken 5 minutes to check out her future on the MTAS website, 5 minutes after learning her fate she was back seeing patients, doing what she wants to do, what she deserves to do, what she is needed for but what the system might stop her doing come August.

Aphra.