First month of a new life

- 3 mins

No coding in this post, just rambling!

So I’m now a few weeks into my new life in research, and it has been a revelation.

I now have my very own desk in an office working alongside other people doing various interesting research projects ranging from Primary Care to Mental Health to Perioperative Medicine. This is the first time since I graduated from Medical School (7+ years) that I have my own assigned deskspace and locked drawers to use. I no longer have to wait my turn to use a computer in a cramped room shared by 5-10 other doctors, nurses and allied health professionals and worry that if I don’t save my work it would get overwritten or deleted by someone else. I no longer have to worry that if I step away from the desk, someone else would come and occupy my seat. I no longer have to worry about getting my thoughts interrupted a million times by people asking clinical questions about a patient just as I’m thinking intently about solving problems related to another patient.

It’s sometimes really just about the simple things we take for granted.

So far I’ve not been horribly productive, just getting to grips with my IRAS application and protocol/study documents. But the newfound independence and autonomy I now have is quite liberating! Project-based working is very different from the daily ritual I used to have of coming into hospital to find the list of patients for surgery and quickly going around to pre-assess them for their anaesthetic, then putting them off to sleep. Granted there is some autonomy with regards to clinical decision-making, but that pertains to the individual patient I’m caring for, in other words, the daily tasks were broadly similar, just that the details required refining. Now my choice of task for the day isn’t dictated to me: I may spend the day working on the protocol documents, or reading the literature, or learning the statistical analysis methods, or skilling up on coding in R.

Another big change is the clinical component of my work! I now do 24-hr on-call shifts at a private hospital’s ICU. Even though the shifts are longer than what I’m used to in the NHS, the workload and pace is vastly reduced. For an 11-bedded unit, we are barely ever half-full. Granted I have only had 3 shifts so far, and the pace may pick up, it is a far cry from the horrors of the 809 (senior ICU reg on-call) or 699 (senior anaesthetics reg on-call) rotas at King’s College Hospital, where I was last at.

The nature of private work probably changes how the clinical decisions are made somewhat, but I think at the moment, at least for me as the resident fellow on the unit, my role hasn’t changed that much, the work intensity is the main difference. The private sector does seem to treat employees better though. My on-call room is almost like a hotel room and they provide me with 3 meals a day from the room service menu! I’m sure it doesn’t cost them that much to provide these little perks, but it really goes a long way towards morale. The NHS can definitely learn from that.

So, overall it’s been a good start to the research. Hopefully it stays positive!

Danny Wong

Danny Wong

Anaesthetist & Health Services Researcher at the NIAA-HSRC & UCL-DAHR

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