tangled

22:25


From osteoblasts to osteo-casts. 

Half of orthopaedics completed. Half of M3's over - which also means that I'm 50% done with medical school. 

OHMY. 

We've scrapped past the last few years with our fair share of setbacks and emotional burdens but 
going into clinical years was on a whole different scale of FML-what-did-I-sign-up-for. 

It was as if someone had thrown me right into the deep end, left to struggle afloat all by myself. No, it wasn't the 1001 things that we were expected to memorise that made me jaded. It was the social dynamics. 

No one ever mentioned how complicated the hospital hierarchy could be. No one ever hinted at how ridiculously easy it is for someone of position to screw you over. 

I treaded real carefully, being polite, diligent, and basically bowing my head down to everyone else because I'm merely the tiniest fry in the great big ocean. It paid off, most of the time, when tutors have a good impression of you and treat you decently. 

I loved my NTFGH orthopaedics team for that. Dr P.M. is really the best consultant you could ever ask for, inviting me along for team breakfasts and lunches, taking time off his schedule to slot in an extra tutorial with us, allowing me to run his clinics by clerking patients, doing physical examinations and even engaging in procedures. 

I am really quite glad that most of my tutors for my past few postings were amazing, passionate individuals who were extremely pro-teaching. 

Everything would have been rosy and perfect, if it weren't marred by someone who just decided that a grand total of less than 2-hours of face-to-face interaction would warrant a complaint to the school... and she wasn't even in-charge of us for the later half of the posting. In all honesty, I had no idea what warranted blowing up an originally-minor issue to such a major thing that required our Associate Dean to step in for an investigation. 

Our first ever conversation didn't start off too well and I suppose that gave her a bad impression. We tried messaging our HO and MO in the late afternoon regarding morning rounds but we received no replies. Being worrywarts who were absolutely terrified of turning up late/ at the wrong venue and incurring the wrath of our associate consultant, we messaged her in the late evening to ask the same question. Her reply was curt. "You are not supposed to message me after office hours."

OHSHIT. Her tone didn't sound pleased at all. Though all our other previous tutors did not tell us off for messaging them in the late evenings, we figured she was just a rather particular tutor with her own set of rules, so we apologised for that. 

No one actually told us where and when to meet so us poor students had to go around blind, wandering around the place trying to find the team. Finally, our HO picked up our call at around 8am and I could find him to get some patients to clerk!

I went on like the kiasu-mugger student that I was, clerking patients and doing procedures (No idea where my CG partner went though). That night, I even went on call with the colorectal team. I ended call at 3am and I figured I wasn't in shape to go for rounds at 6.30am - I was literally a walking zombie, so I messaged the associate consultant in the morning to explain to her. She acknowledged my reason, and subsequently, I went on for her clinics that afternoon, despite being sleep-deprived and half-dead. We were about to go for tumour board when we received news that we had to find a patient for our bedside tutorial with our Prof the next day (because horror of all horrors, our first patient was discharged and we would be left without a patient if we didn't find a replacement in time.)

Apologetic about having to miss tumour board, we immediately messaged her to explain to her our predicament. She didn't sound pleased (What's new? That seemed to be her default mood.)

The next day, I went for morning rounds after catching the first MRT train (and the first bus). The very first thing that greeted us at 6.30am was a yelling. She exploded. In the middle of the wards. During ward rounds. It was humiliating, getting insulted and accused of being "inadequate", "lazy" and "irresponsible" in front of all other staff and patients. Professionalism at its best, I see. I imagine it must have been extremely entertaining for the patients to see such a dramatic sight unfold in front of their very eyes. Behold! The 6.30am show!

The reason for her outburst? Because we did not have a patient list with us. Based on regulations, students are not supposed to print out patient lists on our own. The only way for us to have a copy would be to ask for them from our HOs. We had just reached the wards with barely a minute to catch our breath and request for them from our HOs, and we were completely thrown off guard by that unprovoked tirade. 

She went on to ask us for patients that we had clerked, expecting us to say none, no doubt to prove her point that we were indolent bastards. Sorry to disappoint - I named her my clerked patients but she was unimpressed since our team's patient was just discharged and the other guys weren't from our team. She went on to ask us to clerk a few other patients. 

Thanks for directing us, that was the most useful thing I've gleaned from her short 3-day stint as our tutor. 

After clerking our patient who was planned for operation, we followed our patient into the operating theatre. However, it took too long for her to be inducted and we had to rush off to a suturing workshop, hence we couldn't stay for her operation. We informed our MO and left the theatre, and we even messaged her to tell her our whereabouts. 

The next day, we didn't even see her around. She flew overseas for some conference and we were handed over to another consultant. Apparently our "reputations" have preceded us. The first thing the other consultant said when she saw us was, "oh, so you two are the lazy students who didn't clerk any patients." 

EXCUSE ME. I was busy clerking patients all the way till 8.30pm at night. I was indignant at the accusation but being a lowly medical student, I can't possibly justify myself to the consultant (in case she gets offended that I'm refuting her point and there are certain holier-than-thou consultants who absolutely detest it when people contradict them). 

Thank goodness it was the only time she was passively-aggressive. For the rest of the next week when I appeared for rounds and clinics, she was mostly fine. I interacted the most with the nice registrar, MOs and HOs of the team. After all, they were the ones who saw the effort that I've been putting in since I was around them most of the time. 

During the end-of-posting feedback session, I was awfully tempted to write a comment on how unreasonable our very first tutor was but my "live-and-let-live" attitude convinced me to let it be. I decided to let it slide, but she struck from her side. There's this Chinese phrase that perfectly summarised what had transpired - 恶人先告状. 

I would have to admit that I'm certainly impressed at her ability to hold a grudge. If I had known that she would strike 2 weeks after the end of that posting, I would have kept all conversation records as evidence that I was clean of all blame that she was trying her hardest to point at me. Being the OCD individual that I was, I just had to clear my whatsapp chats. DAMNIT JAS. Why the restless fingers?! 

I'm not worried about the investigation yielding incriminating evidence of any "misconduct" since I was present for most activities and any absence was accounted for. I'm plainly exasperated at the inconvenience of heading all the way back to the SGH office for an "interrogation" and the constant phone calls from the office just to corroborate my account of events over and over again. 

For goodness' sake, it has been more than 7 weeks since we left the posting and she's still hounding me. That behaviour is exactly what you would expect from a playground bully, except one uses his physical bulk to intimidate you and make your life miserable, whereas the other uses her rank to bear down upon you and screw you over. 

All I want right now is for this whole thing to be settled. Peacefully. Without having me to resort to means I would rather not use to justify my innocence. 



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