How do you talk to a doctor?

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username5020800
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#1
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#1
Ok, weird question, but as a medical applicant, I really want to talk a doctor and gain a much deeper insight into medicine. But I know no one who is a doctor - much less medical applicant.

How do you talk to a doctor to find out more about their career? Do you email them? The only person I would email is my GP - but isn't that too awkward? 😭😭

I'd appreciate any help
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ecolier
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#2
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#2
(Original post by anonymouse333)
Ok, weird question, but as a medical applicant, I really want to talk a doctor and gain a much deeper insight into medicine. But I know no one who is a doctor - much less medical applicant.

How do you talk to a doctor to find out more about their career? Do you email them? The only person I would email is my GP - but isn't that too awkward? 😭😭

I'd appreciate any help
Ask us... some of us are doctors here on TSR!

What do you want to know?

P.S. Remember, some questions (e.g. what's it like to study at med school, do you have time for other activities etc.) may well have been asked and answered before - please do a search and browse through https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=684 before asking!
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username5020800
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#3
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#3
When you're put on the spot like this, you forget all the questions you ever thought of - ah!

1. What would you consider your hardest challenge? Both as a medical student and a doctor?
2. What would you say was your hardest patient to deal with? And how did you solve the issue/problem that they might have been facing?
3. What is the greatest joy you get from your job?
4. What would you consider the easiest part of your job?
5. How hard is it to separate your work life from your personal life?
6. When people say you have no time for yourself, is this true?

I might add some more questions as I try to remember them (the struggle of having the memory of a goldfish. I have a very good question in mind but then forgot it when I read your post aha) - but thank you so much!

EDIT: I feel like most of these questions might have already been answered before so thanking the heavens that a search button exists
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ecolier
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#4
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#4
(Original post by anonymouse333)
When you're put on the spot like this, you forget all the questions you ever thought of - ah!

1. What would you consider your hardest challenge? Both as a medical student and a doctor?
Communication

2. What would you say was your hardest patient to deal with? And how did you solve the issue/problem that they might have been facing?
Oooh many patients so far - it usually resolves around communication as said above. Patients with difficult-to-manage diseases e.g. functional neurological disorder that you'll need to tell them; or breaking news of a life-limiting diseases.

Sometimes the problems aren't solvable, and it may take a while to understand that this is OK.

3. What is the greatest joy you get from your job?
Cliched, but helping people (through making diagnoses and making management plans).

Saying that, personally I enjoy teaching > clinical work. Improving medical education is my ultimate goal in my career.

My greatest joy is inspiring trainees to do neurology, seeing an FY1 getting into ST3 neurology will really warm my heart.

4. What would you consider the easiest part of your job?
I love teaching, so I'd say that.

Even though I said that, my day time specialty is pretty good work-life-balance-wise so I do enjoy working mostly Mon - Fri 9 - 5.

5. How hard is it to separate your work life from your personal life?
Not easy, but for many people your job defines your life. Once you tell someone you work as a doctor, you'd just face questions about your work and have endless medical Qs (especially from family!!).

I know some of my colleagues who deliberately don't tell people that they are doctors :lol:

Having said that, I do enjoy hobbies like https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6689812 and without my job I wouldn't be able to go to things like https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6124108

6. When people say you have no time for yourself, is this true?
Nope, as a junior doctor things can be tough but it will get better. If you are good at time management and organisation there's no reason why you could continue your hobbies and interests.

Feel free to ask more questions, and I am sure other doctors will come and pitch in at some point!
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username5020800
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#5
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#5
(Original post by ecolier)
Communication
For some reason, I was expecting the "the workload is atrocious" answer - maybe because the last video I watched was about a medical student ranting about how hard the workload was aha. But yes, communication can be very difficult - especially, if the other party doesn't listen to you.

[No idea how you separated the quotes but I've been trying and failing at doing it for the last few minutes lol]

"Sometimes the problems aren't solvable, and it may take a while to understand that this is OK." This really resonated with me! I wish I could like your post again because this is such a wise quote. Definitely going to take this approach more now.

For the fifth question about how hard it is to separate your work life from your personal life - I wasn't expecting your answer either. I thought it might be hardest leaving your cases at the hospital and not thinking about them when you come home. If it was me, I'd be up all night thinking about what went wrong/what could have gone better/etc.

Thank you so much for your answers! They were really insightful~
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ecolier
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#6
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#6
(Original post by anonymouse333)
For some reason, I was expecting the "the workload is atrocious" answer - maybe because the last video I watched was about a medical student ranting about how hard the workload was aha. But yes, communication can be very difficult - especially, if the other party doesn't listen to you.
That depends on your seniority, I definitely had a rotation / job where "workload was atrocious" was a problem.

A particular shift stood out to me: covering the ward cover bleep on a bank holiday, being the only ward cover doctor - I was literally a glorified switchboard, answering calls from all over the hospital but only able to do a handful of the most urgent jobs. It was very tough, both for the patients and my mental health.

[No idea how you separated the quotes but I've been trying and failing at doing it for the last few minutes lol]
Put [quote] and [/ quote] <- no space between the / and the q to quote!

"Sometimes the problems aren't solvable, and it may take a while to understand that this is OK." This really resonated with me! I wish I could like your post again because this is such a wise quote. Definitely going to take this approach more now.
:yy:

For the fifth question about how hard it is to separate your work life from your personal life - I wasn't expecting your answer either. I thought it might be hardest leaving your cases at the hospital and not thinking about them when you come home. If it was me, I'd be up all night thinking about what went wrong/what could have gone better/etc.
Initially I did that, and I bet you a lot of junior, junior doctors do that. But as time goes on, you've just got to know you have tried your best.

Constantly ruminating over decisions that you have made is not healthy for you, and your mental health. And if you're not in a good condition to work (e.g. because of lack of sleep, or you are distracting thinking about another patient), then your other patients suffer too.

Thank you so much for your answers! They were really insightful~
:hat2:

P.S. I myself also had absolutely no help when I applied (no one from my family are remotely medical) so I understand how hard this can be, and I do want to assist you guys in any way I can
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username5020800
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#7
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#7
A particular shift stood out to me: covering the ward cover bleep on a bank holiday, being the only ward cover doctor - I was literally a glorified switchboard, answering calls from all over the hospital but only able to do a handful of the most urgent jobs. It was very tough, both for the patients and my mental health.
That sounds very stressful, I hope you treated yourself and got some nice rest afterwards!

P.S. I myself also had absolutely no help when I applied (no one from my family are remotely medical) so I understand how hard this can be, and I do want to assist you guys in any way I can
Ecolier, you are actually so sweet. Is there a Ecolier Appreciation Club I can join :jumphug:

EDIT: ICT instincts kicked in and instead of [quote], I used <quote> lol
Last edited by username5020800; 3 months ago
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ecolier
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#8
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#8
(Original post by anonymouse333)
That sounds very stressful, I hope you treated yourself and got some nice rest afterwards!
I did, thankfully I don't do ward cover shifts any more (excluding when I was redeployed during the first wave of COVID but that's the story for another day!

Ecolier, you are actually so sweet. Is there a Ecolier Appreciation Club I can join :jumphug:
It's [quote] rather than <quote> and :ta: :hugs:
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Helenia
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#9
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#9
(Original post by anonymouse333)
When you're put on the spot like this, you forget all the questions you ever thought of - ah!

1. What would you consider your hardest challenge? Both as a medical student and a doctor?
2. What would you say was your hardest patient to deal with? And how did you solve the issue/problem that they might have been facing?
3. What is the greatest joy you get from your job?
4. What would you consider the easiest part of your job?
5. How hard is it to separate your work life from your personal life?
6. When people say you have no time for yourself, is this true?

I might add some more questions as I try to remember them (the struggle of having the memory of a goldfish. I have a very good question in mind but then forgot it when I read your post aha) - but thank you so much!

EDIT: I feel like most of these questions might have already been answered before so thanking the heavens that a search button exists
Just quoting as a reminder to myself to come back and answer this more fully tomorrow...
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Reality Check
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#10
ecolier threads like this remind me of what a superb TSRian and all-round decent chap you are. Not that you'd ever accept it, but you really do represent the very best of TSR giving as you do so freely of your time to help-out applicants who have little or no means of getting this information elsewhere. Your clear, inspirational and realistic posts make people who have never thought that medicine might be 'for the likes of them' believe that it is possible.

Thank you
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Turning_A_Corner
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#11
Something to just add to this. I often get asked about my job in speech therapy and people are desperate to talk to me as it’s probably harder to get work experience in this than it is in medicine. The thing I always make sure to tell them is that due to the way that different specialisms work and the way that the career structure works, no two professionals are entirely alike. Medicine and the allied health professions have such internal diversity that you’re never going to get exactly the same answer twice. A pathologist, a paediatrician and a dermatologist are all doctors, but they’ve got very different jobs. Even two paediatricians may not be alike. One of my patient’s mums the other day told me that a paediatrician she’d consulted for her son’s allergies had diagnosed the cause of her son’s language delay (she hadn’t!), despite not being a) a neurodevelopmental specialist and b) not a speech and language therapist (yes, bit of a bugbear I’m shoving in here!).
My advice? Read! You’ll cover far more ground this way. Read Rachel Clarke’ account of being a palliative care doctor. Read Adam Kay’s account of being an obs and gynae doctor. Read Henry Marsh’s accounts of being a neurosurgeon. Read Matt Morgan’s account of being an intensive care specialist. There’s so much out there and they’re often exquisitely written. Try to get a sense of the breadth and scale of medicine. A doctor isn’t a doctor isn’t a doctor.
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Democracy
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#12
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#12
(Original post by anonymouse333)
1. What would you consider your hardest challenge? Both as a medical student and a doctor?
2. What would you say was your hardest patient to deal with? And how did you solve the issue/problem that they might have been facing?
3. What is the greatest joy you get from your job?
4. What would you consider the easiest part of your job?
5. How hard is it to separate your work life from your personal life?
6. When people say you have no time for yourself, is this true?
1) As a medical student the hardest thing is the constant thought that you don't know enough and always need to be reading more and improving your knowledge.

After a few years as a doctor you begin to feel more at ease about what you're doing, which isn't to say you become complacent or work on autopilot, but eventually you figure out a way to just do the job comfortably.

As a doctor, I would say the main challenge is working in a system with limited resources (time, especially) and finding a way to help people and meet their expectations whilst also being realistic and pragmatic and not sacrificing yourself to the system.

2) Patients with ongoing self-destructive/chaotic lives are unfortunately very difficult to help in a long term meaningful sense. Similarly, a lot of people nowadays have very unrealistic expectations about how the NHS (and indeed, the human body) work - they think it should be like Amazon Prime, but it really, really isn't. Good communication can help with the latter. The former is a social/political problem which needs a social/political solution rather than the health service just patching people up and sending them out again to carry on slowly killing themselves.

3) Definitely seeing people get better and occasionally making an interesting or unusual diagnosis. Cognitively intact very elderly patients are usually great

Teaching medical students is fun and keeps things interesting.

4) It's not really "easy" but I do feel happy in the thought that this is a stable career and in my specialty there is lots of work.

5) Mostly it's become easier over the years due to what I said in my answer to quesiton 1 about becoming more used to the job. Of course there are busy periods and in postgrad training there are exams and assessments which take up a lot of time, but overall I've become better at time management and not allowing things to completely take over. Whilst I am fine with general reading and studying at home, I don't do anything directly work related out of hours unless I've been given admin time to do so.

6) See above. I live in a city I love and where there is lots to do. Once I finish specialty training I intend to work in a way that allows for a good work-life balance - as much as I enjoy my work, there is more to life than being a doctor.
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GANFYD
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#13
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#13
1. What would you consider your hardest challenge? Both as a medical student and a doctor?
As a med student, imposter syndrome.
As a Dr, it used to be feeling I was failing at everything, because there were not enough hours in the day to be the best mum/wife/friend/etc I could be and the best Dr as well. The realisation that I might be setting expectations of myself a bit high helped immensely, as have trusted friends and colleagues who kick me up the rear end at regular intervals to remind me of what I do well.
Now it is trying to meet the expectations of patients which are frequently wholly unrealistic. "Why aren't GPs seeing people face to face" says the person sitting opposite me, in my consulting room! "What exactly do you think this is?" "Yes, but it's not proper face to face, is it?" I always tell them I'm sorry if they don't like the face I have, but it is the only one I've got.
But we are lucky to have a pretty stable patient and staff population, so we have got them fairly well trained now, and it tends to be the newcomers who cause the problems! Our long term patients generally go to war on our behalf and are the most amazing, loyal, supportive group of people imaginable.

2. What would you say was your hardest patient to deal with? And how did you solve the issue/problem that they might have been facing?
I think with age comes the realisation that none of my patients are difficult to deal with, they are just fallible and sometimes scared, anxious and ill human beings. I have almost no "heartsink" patients, and though I am also human, so enjoy interaction with some more than others, the ones I find heardest to deal with are the ones who are just not nice people, eg known paedophiles, violent offenders, etc. But they are luckily few and far between

3. What is the greatest joy you get from your job?
I have looked after some of my patients for over 20 years, so have seen them fall ill, get better, fall ill again, have children, become old, and getting to share in all those experiences is a privilege and a pleasure.
I still love the "puzzle" of medicine - is this cough covid? Another infection? Their medication? Acid reflux? Lung cancer? Functional? So many hypotheses to run through for every patient through the door, all needing a tailored and personalised approach. I mean, what is not to love?

I also love teaching, and that is another facet of my job - watching someone "get it" when they never have before is a heartwarming moment. We recently had a rather cocky would-be neurologist who told us at our first meeting, when we asked how they wanted to do the teaching that "I don't think there is much a GP can teach me". 4 weeks in, he came and apologised, saying he realised he had never understood so many things until he saw them put into practice with a real, whole patient (not just their respiratory system, or heart, or bones) and his feedback comment was that he had learned more in his time in GP than he had in the whole of the rest of med school. Even considering a change of career-plan! I mean, he'll go back to being an idiot again, I'm sure, but gave us great joy whilst it lasted.

I also get joy from working with the team of people I am fortunate enough to have around me. My GP Partner is now one of my best friends. I love watching other staff develop their skills, and helping them to do so, and I love the team ethos we have built, where everyone genuinely looks out for one another and will do what ever they can to make other people's lives a little easier.

4. What would you consider the easiest part of your job?
Again, with great age comes great experience, and I am fortunate not to find my job challenging in a negative way any more. I wouldn't say it is easy, but I no longer have anxiety that I might not know what to do when a patient walks through the door, nor that I am not going to know what to say, or not be able to make things better.
That is not because I always know what to do or say and I certainly don't always make things "better", but I have also come to realise that sometimes, that is not possible and you can usually improve things in some way, even when the overall endpoint is disastrous.

5. How hard is it to separate your work life from your personal life?
Very easy. Except when you run into a patient outside of work who wants to ask about their piles in the Spar, or tell you about their bowels in the butchers.... I do work from home, but I am a Partner in a GP Surgery, so I can choose to work from home or the Surgery, and I prefer the laptop-on-my-lap approach at times to being formally "at work", as I get no interruptions and can take a break whenever I want. But when I turn it off, it goes off and my work mindset goes with it!

6. When people say you have no time for yourself, is this true?
Not at all. But then I now only work part-time! When I am at work, it is sometimes hard to find time to stop and reflect, but if I need it, the staff hold the phone, barricade the door and let me get my head together. Outside of work, I do my own thing
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