Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Pursuit of Happyness

I'm a year older today, but for the first time in I can't remember how long, I don't feel it.

I made the decision to improve my situation in late 2016, when it became clear that I wasn't valued and the work environment was affecting my health.

It took a year to find the right place to move to, and another 6 months before I finally started my new job. So far, it's proven to be one of the best decisions I've ever made, and has done wonders for my physical and emotional well-being.

I also bumped into a number of former colleagues at the new place. It's pretty amazing how they still remember me after so many years, including a urologist who was my registrar when I was a house and medical officer. Despite being famous for being strict and extremely hard to please, I managed to make a good impression on her and she paid me a great compliment when I met her in the ward a few weeks ago. Her opinion still means a lot to me. :)

There are many who call the private sector The Dark Side, but I beg to differ. Of course, the main obstacle will always be cost, but that's reality, even at public institutions. Many factors affect patient care, from doctor seniority to ward class. And based on accounts from multiple friends, even paying top dollar at public hospitals doesn't guarantee you'll see your consultant daily.

Public hospitals still serve an important role as a safety net for vulnerable groups and those with financial concerns, especially when multiple chronic and/or serious illnesses develop. But everyone is aware of the need for significant improvement in many areas, from manpower to service delivery. Or even something as basic as agreeing to see referrals, instead of passing snide remarks when you call, or discharging patients who fulfill criteria for admission.

Anyway, enough about that. I don't need my blood pressure to go up on my birthday. :D

Working in a different system has been liberating. Everyone is happy and always ready to help. You can order any scan you want without hitting a wall, and the specialists are never displeased when you call them, even for a phone consult which doesn't incur a fee.

The patients are pleasant, well-informed and comply with treatment instructions. The positive impact is significant when you don't have Hokkien vulgarities and f-bombs hurled at you on a daily basis.

Most of our patients may not be in the P1 category, but the casemix has been quite stimulating, especially in the paediatric population, whom I rather enjoy seeing. Even succeeded in setting an IV on a toddler on the first attempt, which was very rewarding!

My non-clinical duties are also interesting, with my long experience in the public sector coming in handy. And many thanks to my EM colleagues from various institutions, whom I contact regularly, for openly sharing information and offering great advice. :)

On the personal front, my energy level has bounced back, and I no longer feel ancient, probably because I have no more night shifts on my roster, yay! The shifts are manageable, and supervision is minimal since everyone in the department is experienced. The headaches, chest and epigastric pain and giddy spells have completely disappeared. Everything was work-induced.

Many continue to slog it out at public hospitals and clinics, and kudos to you for persisting. But the Facebook posts about stress, unhappiness and exhaustion continue to appear, and I'm saddened by them. Not just because these people are my friends and I care about their welfare, but also because they reflect serious issues in the healthcare system which need to be addressed urgently, but never seem to be.

My only advice to you all is: if your health starts to go downhill, it's time to consider leaving. The healthcare landscape is changing and other options - better options - are available.

I, for one, almost forgot how wonderful it was to wake up in the morning and not feel like crap. To have the energy to go out, cook, exercise, or stay awake long enough to read or watch a show. To regain my sense of humour about life. TO LOOK FORWARD TO GOING TO WORK!

Last year, I celebrated my birthday in Paris, catching Bruno Mars in concert and the French Open finals. It was probably the best birthday I ever had, but this year, despite keeping it low-key ( I actually worked a shift today - something I haven't done for ages as it would depress me severely ), I am equally upbeat.

My new bosses always say that nothing happens by chance, including the fact that all of us have been brought together at the same time for a reason. I fully agree, as I believe my departure was made possible only through divine intervention, and that while certain doors were closed, it was meant to steer me in the right direction.

Thanks for reading! Till next time...