I’ve written a similar post about whether I should quit or stay. My previous post was written as if I knew, or as if I was comfortable with my choices. I hope this post is more raw.
My other blog post was written one year ago. While I have stepped away from full time clinical medicine, I still haven’t completely closed that door.
Completing residency was a huge achievement. I felt so proud of myself. For me it was the hardest two years of my life. It was an epic struggle emotionally and physically. My relationships were strained, and in pictures I looked a shell of myself.
It may sound dramatic, but it’s true.
The decision to not apply for a job this year was made in May 2021. While my colleagues were getting their resumes ready, I did nothing. An active choice to do non-action.
Why I didn’t apply for a job
The main reason was that I was miserable in my situation as a junior doctor. I couldn’t face the idea of another year doing the same thing.
I didn’t know if medicine was for me, let alone what specialty to do.
Burnout was also a major factor.
My year “off”
The first two months away from full time work was spent lying about at home, living off my savings. I didn’t want to do anything, nor did I have the energy to.
There were no future plans, but I was enjoying not working in the hospital.
Then my savings began to dwindle, and living expenses were going up. I had to work. So I went back to what I knew, and began to work in the hospital as a locum.
Locum work – a dream come true?
Being a locum seemed a great gig – work less and get paid more. I can choose my shifts and decided where and when to work.
Part of me thought my hospital work was mainly unbearable due to the difficult hours. So locum work was a solution to that.
However, quickly I’ve realised that it wasn’t just the hours that made it hard. It was clinical medicine itself.
Why don’t I like medicine? This question has been plaguing me for years now. The reason is formulating more clearly now. My main issue is the fear it generates. I worry about the patients I see and if I made the right choice.
Keeping my foot in the door – what do I do next?
This year I haven’t turned my back on clinical medicine. I’ve also been setting myself up to apply for general practice. Though I didn’t apply for a job this year, I’ve been half in-half out.
My recent experience in ED has made me question all my choices.
General practice involves caring for all ages. I need to be comfortable treating children. But I don’t.
Why I want to leave
The other night I couldn’t sleep, that terrible insomnia you get where you question all of your clinical decision making.
It’s a scenario that I’ve lived many times before.
Is that patient okay? Did I chart that medication? Was the diagnosis correct?
Then a scary thought crossed my mind. If I made the wrong choice for a child I wouldn’t be able to live with it. I began to think about how I would end my life.
It genuinely scared me.
I’ve never thought like that before. It isn’t just a job anymore. Now my life was at risk.
If I become a GP it will be more of the same. Becoming a specialist will be beneficial for many reasons, but at what cost?
That’s when I began to realise that leaving clinical medicine is likely necessary for my own health.
So I cancelled my upcoming shift. How can I care for others when I’m contemplating ending my own life?
Deciding not to work in the emergency, and allowing myself not to do general practice training has lifted a weight off my shoulder. Almost immediate relief.
Now what next?