Housemanship: Just about my week in urology

Behind every cloud is another cloud.” – Judy Garland

It has been a terrible week.

Sorry, I could not think of how else to define/describe the past 7 days I put myself through, or rather what I have gone through.

First off, 15 house officers left the surgical department to the next, with only 2 entering the department. Only about 10 house officers working each day since the start of this week. There are seven working teams: Hepatobiliary, Colorectal, Vascular, Upper GI (or MIS), Urology, Neurology, and Endocrine & Breast, with the former three being a major team. This week, I have been allocated into the Urology team and likely to remain for the coming week or so. It has been one hell of a week. I alone covered the entire urology ward with an average of 13-14 patients per day, an average of 4 discharges per day and 4 admissions per day. Not to mention patients who come in specifically for trial of void (TOV) where they too are considered admissions. Speak of more work! So yes, it has been a very tiring week.

Literally my schedule every day now looks like this:

DayScheduleSupposed Working HourActual Working HourHours Spent in the Hospital
MondayAM7AM – 5PM5.30AM – 9PM15.5
TuesdayAMX7AM – 9PM5.30AM – 10PM16.5
WednesdayAM7AM – 5PM5.30AM – 9PM15.5
ThursdayAMX7AM – 9PM5.30AM – 10PM16.5
FridayOncall8PM – 12AM6PM – 12AM6
SaturdayPostcall12AM – 9AM12AM – 9AM9

Officially worked 79 hours in my first week of urology!

In spite of the terrible working hours, the specialists and the MOs were very nice and supportive. I supposed that makes the working environment all the less hectic, considering they too played a working role in the ward. For example, there was a day where I had concurrent admissions and discharges to do, I did all my admissions but only managed to start doing the discharges at 6PM, my MO literally sat down and told me “look Darien, no worries, we are going to focus on doing all the discharges now”. I looked at him with a sign of relief and I felt my shoulders relaxed a little.

I supposed one must wonder why this had to be pointed out. Typically, MOs in the urology department take on the lead to see peri patients and ED patients, so they too are held up with a lot of work. Other surgical departments may play a similar role, but not as busy. So in spite of my MOs being super busy, they were able to spend some time in the ward to help finish up pending tasks, and that everyone, deserves an applaud. Because you cannot imagine one house officer juggling 14 patients, with multiple requests, referrals, blood taking, admissions and discharges all going on at the same time. It’s just an impossible workload made possible, nevertheless.

Suffice to say, the department has been very hectic but it has been very enabling at the same time. And that is what makes it possible to work in. Thankful for the team.

Steep learning curve, but it has made me learnt to work efficiently and effectively.

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