Monthly Archives: September 2011

Competency

When I had completed a surgical rotation under a very wise and kind surgeon whom I deeply respected, he told me that throughout my career I will meet incompetent doctors including consultants. I was stunned. Partly because I was naive and had just assumed that all those who made it to the top had to be pretty damn good at what they do given they had to get through all those grueling exams. Partly because it was also the most honest statement I have heard someone from the top utter.

The past few days I have been working under superiors who made me seriously rethink my career in medicine. Who made me very sad, frustrated and angry at their recklessness, egos, ignorance and incompetency. Today the point really slammed it home. When someone superior starts becoming defensive and attempts to shift the blame on you the junior doc, it becomes pretty damn obvious.

I was angry and depressed. And demoralized. This rotation in particular has seen me strongly dragging my heels to work, a phenomenon that rarely happens to me.

Then I was having dinner and I heard a page over the system. I sighed inwardly wondering why I can never get the break I need. Only to find out it was a patient’s relative. Who wanted to convey their gratitude and appreciation for my effort. And suddenly it dawned upon me. I may have been doubting myself and skills (because am I really experienced enough to say that a consultant is wrong??), but you know the most honest feedback comes from the patients and I must be doing something right. My relief and release of tension was almost palpable.

And I remembered the parting words of the surgeon. If that person is causing you a lot of grief, don’t feel alone. Everyone else probably knows that person is difficult.