The sudden realisation of what I’m getting myself into

I always look forward to Tuesdays. Tuesdays is Desperate Housewives day, when I can reward a good day’s work with catching up on the scandal in Wisteria Lane. On  Tuesdays I have no violin, piano, music class or singing so I have the whole afternoon to study. On Tuesdays the Irish Times publishes its Health Supplement, which I started reading last year when trying to decide is medicine is the course for me. The Health Supplement two weeks ago had a very interesting article on how much Junior Doctor’s were being paid in overtime.

The basic gist of that article was that a Junior Doctor was paid €100,000 in overtime and various TDs spoke out against it. You might think I’d be delighted at the thought of someday earning in excess of €100,000, but no. Junior Doctors can often spend 80 hours working in a week, on a salary of less than a primary school teacher who works from 9-2.30. €100,000 is a lot of bags and shoes, but with 80 hours of work to be done the only place to be wearing those 4 inch slingbacks would be around the wards, and I don’t think that would be entirely appropriate (until I break my ankle in the shoes that is, in which case I can’t think of a better place to be).

No, I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of earning all that money I’d have no time to spend. In career guidance class the other day the teacher said she was confident that working hours would be reduced, and that many med students are confident of this too. I spoke to my dad about it over breakfast today and he said the government had been talking about this since my uncle was in med school, over thirty years ago.

Coincidentally, I stumbled across this blog just a few minutes ago. It’s basically a NCHD outlining the hours s/he has to work and the conditions s/he has to work in. Some things really surprised me, like NCHDs don’t get a lunch break even though they’re supposed to, and now they’re being paid an hour less for the lunch break they don’t take. What shocked me most of all though was how underhanded the HSE is in its dealing of criticism. The way it reacts to doctors speaking out against how hospitals are run is akin to that of various corrupt government around the world. Anyone who speaks out is labeled as a troublemaker and often cannot progress in their career.  That blog is well worth a read, at the moment there’s just one post, but what’s in the post will probably make your blood boil as much as it did mine.

Despite how awful the working conditions are and how badly NCHDs are treated I’m still determined to do medicine. I’m still pretty sure research is the way I want to go, so thankfully if I still feel the same way in a few years time I wont have to spend too long in that horrible, horrible system if it’s still the same shambles it is today.

12 thoughts on “The sudden realisation of what I’m getting myself into”

  1. The first link you gave doesn’t work.

    I remember hearing about some doctors working 120 hours a week, which doesn’t even give you the accepted amount of time for [i]sleeping[/i].

    That second link is very interesting (though the writer really needs to work on the length of her posts). I’ll have more to say about his praiseach of a health system. Why does it seem like most people in the private sector are paid to do nothing?

  2. Nah most people in the private system are paid to work, they’re just paid a lot of money and work decent hours. It’s the admins in the HSE that are paid to do nothing.

    Thanks for letting me know the first link’s broken, I’ll try and get that fixed!

  3. As a fellow Medicine hopeful, this was an eye-opening read… hasn’t quite deterred me though, and who knows what might happen in 6 years!

  4. Brilliant post Elizabeth!

    TBH, I can’t see working hours being reduced in the foreseeable future. Not unless there was a great deal more doctors, which judging by the fact that they’re not exactly doubling places in colleges, there won’t be. And of course, as was mentioned, more doctors would need to actually be employed and administration cut!

    The blog was an eye opener, but definitely not a deterrent.
    It won’t be glamorous or very nice all the time, but it will be rewarding.

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