Saturday 29 April, 2006

Know your limitations

Posted in Advice, Michael Tam at 23:35 by Michael Tam

Original article by: Michael Tam :: Printer friendly

Exhaustion

We’ve all felt like this after
a gruelling night shift.

First and foremost, take this advice to heart if you are to be a “safe” doctor.

You are not expected to have the clinical knowledge of a consultant (unless you are the consultant). You are expected to have the clinical knowledge of your level.

“Knowing your limitations” go beyond just clinical knowledge. Without your physical and mental health, you cannot perform as a doctor. In a way, we are our own worst enemy. The idealised doctor is an image of a supernatural being; selfless, energetic, compassionate, and wise. The reality is that we are all only human and we succumb to fatigue and illness. A doctor who makes errors due to exhaustion or passes on a viral infection to their patients is not helping anyone.

Furthermore, just about every year there will be a junior medical officer in NSW who dies in a traffic accident on the way home after a gruelling shift or commits suicide after having difficulty coping with the demands of their personal and professional lives.

DO

  • use sick leave when you are sick;
  • ask for help when your work load becomes unbearable;
  • refuse overtime if it is unreasonable;
  • spend time with your family and friends;
  • take time to continue your hobbies and interests;
  • ask for help even if it is to clarify something trivial.

NEVER

  • start therapy you have little or limited knowledge of unless supervised;
  • perform procedures that you have little or limited knowledge of unless supervised;
  • pretend that you know more than you do (to anyone including patients or family);
  • not ask for help because you think it will affect your “reputation”.
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