Wednesday, 23 April 2008

What goes around

I was interested to read that one of my Australian colleagues (Jellyhead) has had similar feelings to mine: “Last night I thought about the week ahead and it seemed that my life stretched ahead of me in endless weeks - work, work, weekends, work, work, weekends. Occasional holidays - long anticipated, over in a trice - then more work, work, work.” You may recall me writing something similar earlier this month. I'm glad to report that I've been feeling a lot happier over the past week or two.

There are a number of reasons for this. None of the doctors has been away for several weeks, which means that the backlog of appointments has been cleared, and surgeries are not full to bursting. I have more time to think about problems so that they become an interesting challenge rather than an onerous burden. I am getting through a lot of stuff but managing to finish within ten hours each day. The days are longer and it is still light when I get home, so I don't feel that I am spending almost all my waking hours at work. I went on a study day last week which got me out of the practice, taught me a few things, and let me chat to some interesting GPs I had never met before. And the fact that I intend to retire in two years allows me to adopt a more sanguine attitude to the turmoil in general practice. It's not that I don't care exactly, it's more that the threats have no power over me. I recall the wise words of an extremely non-PC paediatric consultant who taught me at medical school. “When you're young you have to take everyone's money” he said, “but when you get older you can tell them to bugger off.”

He was a lovely chap. Two policewomen came into a teaching session once about a child protection matter. He evidently thought them naïve, for he referred to them as “spiritual virgins” after they had gone. And he would usually end his teaching sessions by saying “it's my drinking hour, haven't you had enough?” He also memorably advised us; “do try not to kill anyone by accident”. This was in the 1970s when doctors would still sometimes do unofficial “mercy killing”, long before Fred Shipman gave the practice a bad name. Nowadays there is a strong euthanasia lobby which would like doctors to be able to do it officially. What goes around comes around, as another consultant told me in those days.


Anonymous said...

It's amazing that one can remember exactly what individual teachers said decades ago. It makes ones own teaching seem worthwhile.

As a student in the 70s I saw a young woman with a urinary tract infection. The consultant told us "The trouble with women is that the exhaust is near the starter". I remembered that.

The consultant has done well. He has a title. I now sit on a committee with him. I have been advised not to remind him of his little joke, with an important learning point, all those years ago. But I think he would be pleased.

Jellyhead said...

My eyes are still bulging from reading what 'anonymous' wrote about his long-ago consultant's take on female anatomy!

Thank you 'Andrew', for leaving a comment on my blog. I came to your blog last night for the first time, and spent about an hour just reading further & further back into your archives. I love your attitude to work and life in general, and it was fascinating to read of all the myriad situations and people you have encountered.

And now to be quoted on your blog to boot - woo! My head has swollen to enormous proportions!

Glad to hear your blues have been chased away... mine have been wrestled to the ground as well.

All the best to you,

The Shrink said...

"I have more time to think about problems so that they become an interesting challenge rather than an onerous burden."

This resonates with me and was precisely why I left GP land.

It's amazing how a very very modest difference in having just a couple more minutes changes consultations from being a real toil to really stimulating.

Dr Andrew Brown said...

Anonymous: Yes, I hope that some of my trainees remember a few things I taught them. And positive feedback to teachers is always welcome, I think.

Jellyhead: I'm really glad you like the blog. I'm too close to it to assess how good it is, but people seem to like it. And I like yours too - I'm glad to see that I've sent at least one of my readers your way. :-)
Finally - my Dad is getting better in the land of the sandgropers, so as far as I'm concerned Aussie Docs Rule OK!

Shrink: Yeah, it's a real bummer not having enough time. This job would be a walk in the park had we a world enough and time.

Anonymous said...

Re Memories of old consultant teaching. I remember the then Queen's gynaecologist, Sir G P ("Goldfinger" ) telling us that to minimise the risk of urine infections, ladies should always wipe from "fore to aft" rather than the reverse. I have stopped using that phrase now as no-one seems to know what fore and aft are nowadays!

Dr Andrew Brown said...

No, we're not really a seafaring nation any more.

Weren't the old consultants just spectacularly wonderful (and non-PC)!