What I’ve learned
Guest Blog: Jenni Galloway, ski field doctor at Mount Hutt, New Zealand
My first day of working for the NHS was the first day in my life that I didn’t have time to check my phone. Lots of kind friends and family had sent me texts to say “all the best” which I never read. I also don’t remember stopping to eat, drink or use the toilet and I cried the whole 20 minutes of my cycle home. That’s what my first taste of stress did for me.
My first patient had needed an operation to remove a foreign body from his rectum. I saw the gruesome x-ray and then dutifully wrote his discharge letter (as all good foundation doctors do), along with probably 20 other discharge letters of patients I hadn’t laid eyes on! Not the glamorous life they promised me at medical school.
If you find yourself in a job as unhappy as my first one, please don’t despair – it gets much better.
Over the last 3 years of working in the NHS I have learned how to
- get ready for work in 7 minutes
- relieve pain and suffering with words and medicines
- be polite even when I feel overwhelmingly stressed
- cry with grieving families
- staple heads back together
- swallow my pride and ask important people for help with things that I probably should be able to do by myself
- reassure worried patients when they are at their most vulnerable
- recognise warning signs
- stop people from dying
- research and improve quality
- appreciate kind and skilled doctors and nurses after my first experience as a patient
- cope with things that I previously couldn’t
- speak honestly about prognosis
- work in teams
- function at 4am without coffee
- make life-long friendships
- travel the world
- cannulate successfully (almost) every time
- relocate dislocated shoulders
- improve morale through the medium of supplying baked goods
- laugh to stop myself from crying
- remind myself of the bigger picture
- be very thankful for the National Health Service.
It has also allowed me an interesting and flexible career. I currently find myself having landed on my feet in New Zealand working for a company called Medical Rescue. My job title is “ski field doctor” at Mount Hutt (NZ’s best ski resort for the fourth year running). It’s a hard job but somebody has to do it. So far it has involved skiing almost every day, working in the beautiful Southern Alps, calling in helicopters to transfer critically injured patients, skidoo rides at high speed, training for avalanches, using real-life walkie-talkies and reassuring people that their injury is just a sprain…(most of the time.)