Doctors’ first experiences
Two doctors reflect: a first day and a first night
- By: Richard Smith, Sarah Jones
The BMJ’s social networking site, doc2doc, has just published an e-book that resulted from an online discussion on how to survive as a junior doctor. Download the whole e-book for free at http://doc2doc.bmj.com.
I started in the Eastern General in Edinburgh on Sunday, 1 August 1976, and experienced my first death from medical error on the Monday. Maybe this explains the rest of my career—as an editor and busybody rather than practising doctor.
I wasn’t totally terrified on that Sunday because I had done a couple of locums, but I was painfully aware of my many deficiencies. Interestingly, in retrospect I saw those deficiencies as entirely my fault. It never occurred to me that it was a failure of the system to leave somebody so inexperienced with so many responsibilities. Indeed, I knew about body systems but never had considered that the hospital might be a system.
That first day