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I took to heart the message in November's blog by a radiology colleague. It was a refreshing reminder for me regarding collegiality, and its roots in honesty and humility. 

When sourcing for a topic, I recalled sitting down to clear the backlog of Residency administrative work. Fellow Residents may be familiar with this query in the programme evaluation form: "Has the rotation ensured that your clinical education will not be compromised by excessive service obligations?"  The oft-censored corner of my mind was chuckling. While Residency makes a fair attempt and we are getting a better balance compared to the BST days, service requirements (such as 30-40 patients in a morning clinic) seem like an unavoidable reality.

As my 'service' year in R3 drew close, I found myself contemplating the increased patient load versus the need to provide comprehensive care. What is it that keeps me going as a doctor in the public sector?

To fellow healthcare professionals, I would like to share this paraphrase from the great Lord of the Rings trilogy.

"Our healthcare system is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair; and though in [my walk as a doctor] love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” 

I will always appreciate the colleagues who helped to clear the 70+ patients in the ACC clinic, the senior who took a case off my toppling ED pile and ensured that I took a lunch break. The nurse who talked to the difficult family and offered to pack supper on call and the patient who entered the consultation room with the words, "You have been working hard, thank you."

Every experience has given me a greater understanding of what it means to be a doctor. I believe that career resilience requires that physicians reflect on and define the sources of their own intrinsic motivation, as a doctor and as a person. A scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy resonates for me. Standing at the stairs of Cirith Ungol (a dark, despairing place), Frodo asked, "What are we holding on to, Sam?" Sam replied, "That there is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for."

My journey as a young doctor has truly been a privilege only made possible by the efforts of many others. There have been wonderful seniors, who through their incredible patience imparted skills and values. They have inspired me to soldier on and to pay it forward. Teamwork and mutual support amongst colleagues has sustained me through some dark days. I am constantly humbled by patients who place their trust in me as their physician.  I am reminded that it is a calling to serve. This has been my motivation - to live up to the duty entrusted by my training, to take personal responsibility for providing comprehensive and continuing care for my patients, when I say "I will take care of this." 

For everything there is a season, and whatever life brings, I believe that there is always a time to serve.  To cherished friends and colleagues, mentors and patients, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas Season. May the coming year bring timely opportunities to serve with a joyful heart.