Sunday 30 April, 2006

Help each other

Posted in Advice, Michael Tam, Wards, Workplace at 13:34 by Michael Tam

Original article by: Michael Tam :: Printer friendly

Help each other

Everyone can do with a little bit
of help sometimes

No one knows the difficulties of being a junior doctor better than your fellow junior doctors. You must as a group try to help each other out. If you are not in a particularly busy team and the general medical intern is struggling, offer to help with their ward work. If someone needs to swap out of an overtime shift, try to be accommodating.

If you look out for each other, hospital work will much more pleasant. By working together as a group, you will reduce the amount of “burn-out”. Everybody will have their rough patches and their “bad” weeks and terms. It’s part of the job. However, knowing that you can reliably fall back on someone to pick up or swap a shift when you’re just exhausted from your day job is very comforting.

Of particular note, the AMC (Australian Medical Council) graduates, i.e., the overseas trained doctors working as interns sometimes have a significantly more difficult time. Many are older and may have to support families. Many may be unfamiliar with the Australian medical system and some may have been somewhat removed from the general medicine and surgery that is encompassed in internship (e.g., it isn’t unusual for some AMC graduates to have been specialists or GP for many years in their native country). Try to be nice and understanding and give these colleagues a helping hand.


  • help with other’s ward work if you’re free;
  • pick up or swap overtime shifts if you can;
  • try to “clear the boards” so the overtime people don’t start with busy wards;
  • try to sort out medication and fluid order charts so that they don’t run out on overtime;
  • give a brief handover of patients that you’re worried about to the overtime ward team.


  • just lounge around in the library or RMO room if you’re not busy;
  • deliberately leave tasks for the overtime team to do that can be done during the day;
  • ask the overtime team to do tasks that can wait until the next day;
  • “turf” jobs to another team just because there is a transfer in care (e.g., the surgical team expecting the rehabilitation team to arrange for surgical follow up after transfer).

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