How is life as a doctor like after graduating from medical school? What is a typical work day like? What are the challenges faced? We hear from Dr Cher Yuqin (Paediatric Resident) on her joy and challenges as she lives her love of Medicine in SingHealth after graduating from medical school.
As Residents in
SingHealth, we often get the opportunity to rotate and be exposed to different subspecialty postings. So, depending on which posting we are currently doing, a typical workday usually differs. For example, as general paediatrics is more ward-based, we will usually start the day by doing rounds, attending to patients, followed by another combined round with the consultant, to decide on the eventual treatment plans for the patients – so as to name a few.
Throughout the day, we will also admit new patients, review referrals, and discuss as part of a subspecialty team on the preferred treatment plans for the referred patient. There are also non ward-based postings like the children’s emergency postings, where we work in shifts instead, handling overnight calls.
Definitely. The transition from a medical student listening in the lecture theatre to a full time working adult, with actual patient responsibilities can be quite challenging. But at the same time, it’s also very fulfilling to know that I can make an impact on someone else’s lives too. Knowing that my decision can affect and change my patients’ outcomes, I find myself thinking and weighing my decisions a lot more as a senior. But not to worry, as a Resident, there will always be someone whom you can turn to and ask for help. In fact, regardless of your seniority, there will always be someone, who’s even more senior than you are, to ask for help.
I must say there is a very loving working culture and atmosphere within my department. Regardless of your level or rank, there is always someone to help you out. We are also attached to a Residency mentor whom we can always go to for help. I personally have a very close bunch of friends in SingHealth Residency, who makes going to work enjoyable every day too. There is also a robust and structured training system in SingHealth Residency, where we are guided along our learning journey with protected teaching and studying time.
There are a lot of things in Medicine that we may not have an answer to at times. In our line of work, we tend to see our fair share of deaths, making those days more difficult than usual. No matter how hard we try, there are days where we will feel defeated and helpless, and we ought to learn from these experiences and ‘bounce back’ from it. We may not be able to save every life, but we can try our best.
A recent experience with a young patient suffering from a terminal illness left a profound impact on me as I was deeply involved in care, seeing her through her first diagnosis till her last breath. On her final day, I was the one who accompanied her home to be terminally extubated, where her breathing support was removed at the comfort of her home. I witnessed how the parents went from denial to acceptance of their child’s illness and passing. Being with them through this entire journey was heart-breaking but meaningful at the same time, especially since we were able to grant them the opportunity to have their child pass on at home.
It is okay to feel defeated and helpless, but most importantly, to find someone whom we can speak to and share about these feelings. We need to understand that we have tried our best, and to learn from the experience. This is a learning process and also the essence of how medicine has improved over the years as well.
Keeping mum about your thoughts and struggles will eventually take a toll on you. So, always remember that no matter what you do or what profession you are in, make sure you always have someone whom you can turn to instead of bottling these feelings inside.
There is always this mind-set that doctors have the ability to help everyone. Although that is a good thought to have, I have come to realise that this may not be the case. In fact, having that thought might actually burn us out. There is this rule in Medicine – “Do no harm”, which I find to be the most important. We may not be able to help everybody, but we should have the willingness to help our patients to our best ability.
This interview transcript is contributed by the Singapore Youth Medical Forum and copyedited by SingHealth Education Communications. For more information on Dr Cher's experience as a Resident in
SingHealth Paediatrics Residency Programme, visit Singapore Youth Medical Forum's Instagram (@symf) to watch the full interview.
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