Thoughts and opinion from the wards
Taking your work home with you
As Industrial action gets underway today I thought it apt to raise an issue which most of the public are completely unaware of...
Most professional careers involve an element of taking you work home with you if you want to get to the top of your field. Architects and designers will work in the spare time to polish the project they are working on, teachers take home marking and lesson prep work, but most professionals I've spoken with think I'm lucky, because as a doctor its clearly not possible to take your patients, and therefore your work home with you.
How wrong they are...
I will agree that I can't, don't and wouldn't want to physically take my patients home with me (well perhaps an occasional cute baby but thats just the hormones talking), I only live in a small house and my partner certainly wouldn't approve. But at the end of a day, it's difficult to switch off completely from work. There will be the problem patient who has stumped your diagnostic abilities who you want to go home and puzzle over in the hope of having a House MD moment and becoming the star of your team. There will be the patient whose management you didn't know or understand and so you are intrigued to go and read up on. And there will be the homework from your consultant who when you asked "why are we doing X for that patient", your boss replied "well why don't you read up and you can tell us all about it tomorrow".
But everything I've described so far is mainly semi optional work. But then there is the real work you take home: the journal club article to find and research, the audit data to analyse and convert into pretty graphs for your department meeting, the revision for post graduate exams, and at this time of year especially with ARCPs looming there is the E-portfolio.
I've lost track of the number of times I've been told that this should all be achievable within my 48 hour working week, but for doctors in most hospital based jobs this simply isn't possible. Evidence must be collated, reflections written and curriculums filled, which even with high speed home broadband can take hours for each of the subject areas. It's not being done for patient safety or hospital targets, but simply for ensuring a successful ARCP and progression to the next year of the training scheme.
So next time a non medic points out that you leave you don't take your work home with you then simply smile and nod, and raise a glass of something alcoholic to leaving your work at work when you sit down that evening for another session at your computer in the name of the NHS.
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