My Stint in ‘Forever-Land’

Flashback #4

▪ 4. -I decided Paediatrics is my Passion & I was born to treat kids & perhaps be a Paediatrics HOD somewhere, someday!
-He showed me there’s more to Medicine & I was born to be a holistic doctor as long as I am in this profession.
-We both concur that I was born to be a safe, Good, ETHICAL doctor. . and (*fingers crossed*) a Specialist.

*

PART 1 : My District Posting

# Specially DEDICATING this Post for all my ex-colleagues, making up our Selama-geng#

Confession: Those 18 months were my pon-vasantham (GOLDEN Spring…oooopsieee too much of Tamil movie)! 😀

*

There was a trend among us House-Officers from Tin-City GH. It was an open secret that our application form for Medical Officer (MO)ship posting is often ignored, and ends down in a pile, that is often  thrown away or recycled (I hope the latter). As such, during the final posting, we HOs used to make an appointment with the then seconnd man holding the office, the person in charge of MO postings to discuss our preferences, and try to negotiate a win-win situation for our postings.

***

I will never forget my session. About 6 of us went to JKN. Most of our requests were denied, citing shortages.

I did some homework before applying. Truth be told, I always thought I have a passion for Paeds. But, was undecisive, for many a reason (will write more about this in Part 2).
One thing that I was certain was that I wanted to be in a medical based department (Medicine or Paediatrics) – and at that point of time Medical department in Manjung GH was short of MOs. The HOD was even willing to give a supporting letter, if the JKN needs one.

Knowing my hometown, I was denied the GH, citing it was full. My arguments that there is vacancy in medical department, especially with (the then) recent dengue outbreak – fell on deaf ears. And he offered me the island hospital – *gasp* – that would defeat the reason for applying back to my hometown!! I will be island-arrested -> LOL.

He offered me Selama (will mention as ‘Forever-Land’ henceforth) or Gerik. And that a ‘poor boy’ from my hometown is there for too long, and needs a replacement so he can get into Surgical department in a major hospital. He was my ex-classmate, and a senior in Housemanship. Me & my ex-classmates knew the existence of that forever-land thanks to him being posted there! :p
He continued promoting the place by describing its a scenic drive from my hometown, via trunk road, etc etc…
Am I a vegetarian? Ohh…it is hard to find vegetarian food in Gerik. etc etc…I dunno what he was blabbering about (that’s how I felt about the man-in-charge trying to market Forever Land to me!)

*

Forever-land is well known as one of the least favourite options to be posted to, besides Gerik. These two places were considered as interiors, from what I have heard from senior HOs & MOs who have previously fought so hard not to be posted there!

*

Back to my story. Option: Forever Land or gerik? Gosh!
Will I never ever get what I want?!!
– In retrospect, God knows best – 

I was totally dumbfounded. Looked at my colleague who was next two me, perhaps STARED is a better word.

Man-in-charge: I won’t be mean to send you all alone to the faraway place. Who is your good friend here? (As I was ‘staring’ in disbelievement at my colleague sitting next to me! I went with hopes that our requests will be entertained, as per some HOs prior to us)
He went on:
PY, is it? Okay, I will send both of you there. (scribbling Forever-Land on the piece of paper he was holding, next to both our names!)

*

As I walked out of the room, I was dazed. He DECIDED for me! I wasn’t actually even given a choice 😦
And I felt super guilty for dragging my friend, PY into this exile too! But guess what, she was excited about it. She needed a change after living in her hometown during HOship I guess 🙂

*

In Forever-land: There I was driving my (the relatively new, little car)…my fuel indicator was blinking. I was driving round and round the little town trying to find a petrol kiosk, in vain. There was NONE!! OMG….I am doomed. I knew this was the middle of nowhere! I should have appealed and NOT followed JKN doctor’s decision. I should have appealed
;( And then, I woke up with a start! I was in such a disbelievement the entire day, that I actually had a nightmare. Sigh…

*

So, I told my friends, I have to VISIT this place! Though I am a kampung (village) girl, actually a small-town and Not truly a village :p…
I had to ascertain that this place, Forever Land was habitable. I knew I would be stuck there for at least a year, as no new batch of HOs will be graduating as MOs, due to some policy changes from one batch after us.

***

Made an appointment with my ex-classmate, and with 3 other friends (PY being one of them) we made a road-TRIP to Forever-Land during a weekend! Upon alighting from the highway and seeing a teeny weeny local petrol kiosk, I was animatedly excited :p At least my nightmare had NO basis.
I can be a real kid at times. LOL. Guess what? There was a Shell about a kilometre before the hospital & a Petronas right next to the hospital *slaps forehead*. Of course I was teased about it…haha!

A rainy day, very chill out Accident and Emergency department. My friend was away sending a case. The other on call MO actually had the time to give us a quick tour of the hospital. It seemed not busy, we suspected due to the rain.
And later, both of them took us for dinner & a quick tour around the quiet little town, I think. A conspiracy to paint the bestest picture of the place so we would not appeal elsewhere, so that they can earn their way out ASAP, no doubt!  :p

***

  • Petrol kiosk – Checked
  • Accessibility by road – Checked (though it had narrow winding road, we were told that there are better alternatives) – mentally noted to myself NO Driving after Nightfall
    (Yeah Right! For all that we did in the months after being posted there :p)
  • Food – Checked
  • Habitability – Checked.

Do not be fooled into thinking I accepted my fate just like that. I tried to contact the Medical HOD in my hometown hospital, but he couldn’t challenge the doctor-in-charge-in-JKN’s decision to not post any new MOs to that hospital for time being – SIGH. And that was when I gave in to fate…so, this’ it until further notice.

redirected to something better

***

Trust me, the bulk of my time there was the icing on my cake of working life in Silver-state. Pon Vasantham (golden spring), remember?? 😉

I dubbed the town as ‘in the middle of everywhere’. Being a border town between 2 states, it was half an hour from our main town of referral, and 40minutes from the one in the adjacent state. .45 minutes from yet another border town (encompassing 3 states!) & the Pearl of the Orient was an hour + away. Not too bad, as we realized over time, these CITIES became our weekday hang-out spots..to unwind :p

*

More than ONE junior has mentioned to me that I have inspired them to give District Posting a go 😀 I am always full of praise for my own experience, and Enthusiasm is Contagious 😉

I will try to summarize:

  • Increased confidence in managing Alone – The very reason why I declined Health Clinic postings, and requested a hospital posting for MOship.
    With no A&E exposure during my housemanship, this was where I picked up managing acute emergency cases.
  • I was never alone – We had NO in-house specialists, but there were senior colleagues and fellow colleagues to discuss and share opinions with. When we were in doubt, help was just a phone call away.
  • We had visiting specialists once a month from the nearby hospital, from almost every department. We then had CMEs and mortality etc etc discussions, besides the specialist clinic. Assisting the specialists in the clinic was a wasy to market ourselves to the department we were hoping to gain entry into! :p
  • The best of both hospital & clinic worlds as we saw in ward patients, as well as outpatients 🙂
  • I became a better person & Paeds MO (later on) – compare any Medical Officers in any specialty, and I can assure you that majority of those who have served in a district setting would have a more holistic approach & be more realistic of their expectations from referring MOs.
    (No offence to anyone – true experience)
  • Refining soft skills with our daily contact
  • Friendly support staffs, not only pharmacies & nurses, but the office staffs, drivers, guards and cleaners as well. I used to remember most of them by names. It was a small community we had there.
  • Our 1001 day-trips after work, some were for celebrations…mostly, for whiling away time (lepak-sessions) – this was essential for our mental health, trust me. That was the good part about being in the ‘middle of everywhere’ – we had options. A typical outing would be driving all the way out of the town to civilization…dinner & movie…and driving back, often reaching home close to midnight, if not past – daredevils we were!
  • My driving skills improved by leaps and bounds! At some point of time, I almost knew by heart where the next turning, and even the potholes were – in the darkness of night, on unlit windy roads. *Often I am amazed by what I/we did in those months. Crazeeeee!*
  • Badminton sessions – both doctors and pharmacists used to get together, in line with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while we were rotting away there. I took pleasure initiating and booking the court. Planner, nah? :p
  • And Oh! Did I mention all those house parties – from house-warming up till house-cooling in our house alone…and then some in other colleagues’. Many were just for some celebrations…and even some for no reasons! :p From Malaysian food, to Western, to Chinese steamboat – we had them all! Even had an indoor picnic when our waterfalls-picnic plans failed due to unfavourable weather.
  • And THAT one Waterfall – It was a Breather for me! When I was bogged down by exam stress, I found it! 😀 And me running towards the fall full of joy was mistaken by some local people as someone suicidal *OMG!*
  • We found an Indian uncle’s stall & satiated our palates on prn basis 😀 He & his family are my friends still.
  • And so are some other staffs from the hospital (I can still rely on them for assistance) – either via FaceBook or in real life! 🙂
  • But the BEST of ALL were the colleagues I had! The camaraderie among us colleagues. We were more than friends, and I guess the word Selama might actually refer to the bond formed among us. I doubt if any batch prior to us, nor after us shares the same as what we did/do. We had our differences, yet were best of friends. NO ‘absconding characters’! That was of paramount importance as we had such problematic ones during HOship 😀 – My FAITH in Mankind was further reinforced! Our Unity was generally preserved, except for some frictions on & off.
  • Special mention goes to my 2 ex-housemates! PY & TLY, u gals rocked! TQ for putting up with me, I guess I was undeniably the craziest :p
    Hahaa…when I was shifting to Forever-Land, my mom who accompanied me to lend a hand gave me some pearls of wisdom. I will never forget amma’s words:
    “Don’t fight with your housemate. Learn to give and take”.
    GOSH! Even my mom thought I had attitude problem?!! All thanks to my Uni years *roll eyes*. Especially after a year and a half of being housemate-less, I guess she was genuinely concerned, but…
    I learnt two things by living with these 2 girls:
    – Both are truly nice girls. Almost angelic, I would say 🙂
  • I learnt a great lesson. I had to admit with myself probably afterall…I did go to University & mixed with a bunch of atypical breed of people! I don’t have to ALWAYS blame Myself for everything that goes wrong in my life…now, that was reassuring 😀 After years of blaming myself…and that lingering doubt if something/everything is wrong with me, that I was unable to do simple things like maintaining friendships with people (except those from my hometown) I meet along the journey of my life.My Selama-geng indirectly thought me that I am a normal, human being. And I am definitely capable of maintaining ties 😀 Miss our good times…Love y’all!!

***

When everyone around me was studying and sitting for one exam or another, I was still ‘lost’. Initially, I thought of signing up for Diploma in Family Medicine course (surprised myself after joining ~2years ago to realize that I have previously applied for the course in early 2009, but due to insufficient work experience, I didn’t fulfil the criteria) merely for the reason that assignments and exams will make me STUDY! Did I want to pursue Family Medicine? My district experience did slowly change my perception about that field.

Finally, during a national park (Taman Negara Pahang) trip, I decided. It felt like a soul-searching trip…and I thought I found my calling. Finally, I made GOOD use of my time in district by studying for an exam, and attempting it for the first time – MRCPCH, Part 1.

any regrets too late to turn

*

Job satisfaction was there up till one year, after that, rooting for my transfer was a very draining mission. The then Pengarah (Director) was a common enemy for everyone from every level, working there. That itself was a great bonding factor!

*

And then…I FINALLY (after 18 months), paved my way Out – to the next phase: Part 2 – coming soon..

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One Response to My Stint in ‘Forever-Land’

  1. Pingback: Paeds & I | Mad Med Journey

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