Just the other day, I saw a patient who exclaimed, “You look so young! How many years have you been practicing?”
I, of course, replied, “Well, for about four years now, going on five.”
Looking back, these four years have quite been an experience for me. Before I went into private practice, I rotated through various departments of different hospitals, as is the system for all junior doctors in the public sector. Some of my postings included Pediatric Medicine in KK Women & Children Hospital, Family Medicine in Tampines Polyclinic, Orthopedics in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Public Health in the Ministry of Health, Internal Medicine in Changi General Hospital and Accident & Emergency in Changi General Hospital.
One of my favorite postings is the Accident & Emergency (A&E) in Changi General Hospital. In my last post, I mentioned the war between doctor and disease. A&E is really on the frontline of this war! It’s the place where doctors have to tackle with the problems on hand immediately– the patient comes in on a stretcher and the ultimate aim is to help him walk out well again! Talk about being triumphant.
Another reason I like A&E is because you can truly see the appreciation in the eyes of the patient and of his or her family when you manage to solve their immediate problems. People tend to panic in emergencies and once you manage to tackle the situation and their fears, the relief and gratitude on their faces is priceless.
One more reason that I shall mention is that A&E offers a good blend of both basic surgical and medical work. Patients who only require simple surgical procedures can get them done at the A&E; those who need medical treatment and attention can also receive it at the A&E. Internal Medicine specialists often joke that surgeons do not know anything about medicine. Surgeons, on the other hand, joke that internists poison the whole sea to try to kill a fish; they can’t accurately target the problem. It’s amazing that there exists an arena of medical practice that incorporates the best of both.
A&E practice made me realize that I like to use both my hands and my dispensary. The only drawback about A&E was the irregular shift hours, especially the overnight ones. I find I much prefer more regular hours so I can spend more time with my family. That’s how I decided on primary care instead. Family practice is a little like A&E— it is also very much in the frontline of the fight against diseases; there’s a lot of medical work involved and occasionally, the need to employ your surgical skills for minor procedures in the outpatient setting arises too. We specialize in being expert generalists—our work covers most areas of medical and surgical specialties, including aesthetics (which, truth be told, is fast becoming a need rather than a want.)
So wish me luck for my exams in June this year! This reminds me, I really should start studying already…