Yup – that’s me weeping uncontrollably in my Doctor’s chair, trying to wipe my face with haematology investigation forms and my patient comforting me. You’re probably wondering how I got to into this mess of a state? Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
It’s Saturday the 27th of April, the first day of my 48-hour weekend on-call. I’m the only intern doctor on call covering the Medical emergency, all medical wards in the hospital as well as receiving consults from other surgical and obstetrics & gynaecology teams. (There’s a serious shortage of doctors, don’t let any Minister tell you otherwise). I’m staying positive and up-beat, trying my best to attend to all patients in my usual jovial self, but by 12.30am this energy is waning and I still have a whole Sunday to get through. The night remains active but I’m fortunate enough to get 3 divided portions of 1 hour naps so I’m grateful – wasn’t half as lucky on Sunday night – only got one hour of sleep – and had to resume straight into a busy clinic first thing on Monday morning.
I get to clinic, my chief got me a bottle of pepsi to put a bit of a spring in my step and sugar in my veins to be able to think clearly and see to the outpatients effectively. Things are going alright till I receive conflicting orders, requiring me to be in two places at the same time, which we all know isn’t feasibly possible – next thing I know, a very senior colleague is raining defamatory words upon me in a voice so loud, the entire normally quite rowdy clinic, actually fell silent to hear all that was being said to me. I wished the ground would swallow me in that moment. You’d think that would be it? Nope. As I immediately went to apologize for the misunderstanding that led to being misread as being ‘rude’ and ‘insubordinate’, I was briskly rebuffed with the statement: “I will finish you to the point that there won’t be a next step. I won’t merely give you an extension, but I will have you removed and there won’t be any coming back from that”.
To say I was taken aback, is a grave understatement. I haven’t been face to face with such a great display of dislike from someone I’ve been nothing but respectful towards, in my life. Coupled with my piling stress from working the whole weekend day and night…I just couldn’t be strong anymore.
What’s even more frightening about this, is that when I shared a tip of this experience online, so many other doctors had saddening similar and even worse experiences whilst being interns or residents in training. Apparently this sort of behaviour is rampant across medical training in Nigeria.
I’ve wiped my tears and I’m trusting God that the threats remain as words alone and not actually become acted upon. I’d really like all my fellow medics reading this post to make every effort to not be like the medical elders we have suffered underneath during training. Be better. Don’t transfer aggression, don’t threaten to squash the little careers that have been painstakingly difficult to build – remember what it was like being an intern and how you wished your superiors were – then be that person.
Till next time,
Dr. ETP xo