August is a transitional month in the medical world. For many it represents the end of their time in one locale as they start anew in a fresh place of work. New hospital. New people. New systems. New responsibilities. The metaphorical leaf has been turned.
This is most apparent for the new doctors, many of whom enjoyed their first day as fully-fledged clinicians on August 5th. Often they’re akin to Bambi on ice; uncertain, unsteady, unsure. The extraordinary events of 2020 have, however, given ice skates to many of these fawns. After working in hospitals for the past few months in interim roles, they are more certain, steadier, more self-assured. Whether skating or sliding, a warm welcome to the new clinicians across the nation.
There was a novelty to hospital induction this year. No longer was it merely drawn out, vague and hopelessly disorganised. This year it was socially distanced too. Gone was the packed, hot, narcoleptic lecture theatre. In its place – Microsoft Teams.
The administrative staff tried to coax Teams into working. What is surely now part and parcel of daily office life seemed insurmountably difficult. The staff did battle; they were routed. “Everything that could go wrong is going wrong” we were told. If there was any faith in the induction process left, it was in that moment crushed.
Yet they regrouped and managed to get Teams working! Broken sound, check. Laggy video, check. The lecture on fire extinguishers – back on track. Then the laptop died. Nobody had thought to plug it in. The rout was complete. The war had been lost, all hope abandoned. A mercifully early end to the day.
The new academic year also marks a renewal of professional subscriptions. Hundreds of pounds paid just to stay in the game. A big sigh and muttered grumblings mark the occasion. I remind myself that I’ll see some VAT back at some point – it adds something of a silver lining. New role, added responsibilities, added expectations, added pressure. Stagnant pay. Another sigh, more grumblings.
Workplace chatter is often repetitive, on occasion inane. The opinions of every Tom, Dick and Harry on the future of the Covid situation can get slightly wearisome. PPE this, AGP that. As such, the reversion to the true British conversational trope was somewhat welcome – the weather.
The hospital’s air conditioning plant had failed because the weather was too hot! A hopelessly redundant piece of equipment then, it would seem. The wall thermometer read 30’C. With PPE on top the environment was tropical. And not ‘piña colada on a beach’ tropical, either. More like ‘wading through Amazonian jungle being eaten by insects’ tropical.
Cooler weather might bring some reprieve – colder weather will bring none at all. I hear the hospital is full, even though it’s the middle of summer. The winter months seem daunting already. Is it ‘flu? Is it norovirus? Is it Covid? No, it’s super
man resistant bacterial infection! Fantastic.
I hope that everyone medical is settling into their new jobs. May your inductions have been short, your subscription fees be minimal, your workplace be well cooled and your PPE be adequate. I’m sure 2020 has more to throw at us yet, so look after yourselves and each other. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.