Thursday, 3 November 2016

Leaving On Time?

I wrote some time ago about the conundrum of leaving workon time.

On one hand, I'm contracted to work from 9 to 5. On the other hand, that is not necessarily the reality on some days.

There are 4 junior doctors on the ward. As a rule, at least 2 doctors have to be on the ward. This usually works out as everyone is on a different schedule for weekend, nights, on call shifts and annual leave. By the time all that's done, it's usually trickled down to two people. Depending on the day, the consultants see their individual patients and then leave us to finish off the ward round and the remaining jobs.

Sometimes, 2  is enough to handle the ward: if everything goes according to plan and there are no acutely ill patients. How likely is that? The odds are usually against us and the days when it's half the team, are the days where things go wrong. If one of us has to take care of an ill patient that leaves the other person with 20 something patients. Seems a lot for one person.That's why I get nervous on a two person shift. 

The dilemma is when the clock strikes 5 and you have blood results to chase, a potential discharge summary to write, a request for a procedure that isn't urgent, a cannula and the list can go on and on. Is it my duty to make sure all of those things are done, even if it means leaving after 6.

I should also mention that the list isn't static. The longer you stay the more jobs magically appear. One nurse will remember something that needs prescribing and the other will ask you to have a look at a rash on a patient's leg, all at a quarter to 5.

If I stay late and keep staying late every day, will it become the norm? Will it give the impression that the workload is manageable and that it's acceptable? No one will realise there's a problem and nothing improves.

I don't mind if it happens occasionally but I'm opposed to staying late regularly. I don't want to do it every day. To get home tired and frustrated. Too tired to go running, too tired to read the book that's on my table. Too exhausted to do anything else but eat my dinner in silence, then fall into bed only to wake up another day and let it start all over again.

This doesn't happen all the time. I've just had several days like this in a row and so it feels like it's never ending. It just feels nice to have a moan.

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