Changing an Attitude – The Worst Day to Fall Ill in the UK
1st August – the most dangerous day to fall ill in the British calendar. On this day, around seven thousand UK medical students walked into the wards as qualified junior doctors. Rattled with nerves, unfamiliarity and full of anxiety, it’s no wonder the death rates shoot up by nearly 7% this time each and every year. These poor souls have to bear the misery of being held responsible for this frightening statistic.
Perhaps it’s a little unfair to be pointing fingers at our new doctors, for their first day of work is also ‘the national handover day’. Many doctors across the board are moving up a grade, possibly onto a new ward, new specialty or even a new hospital. The blame of the grim reaper’s work load may not rest entirely on the junior doctor’s shoulders after all.
In the hope of reducing this statistic, the UK government came up with the idea of introducing only 4 days of compulsory shadowing for all new doctors; a frustration for some enthusiastic teaching hospitals which were used to providing a minimum of two weeks. Thus, it leaves us to wonder if a mere 4 days will prepare these novices for life on the wards. You would have thought that the institution that had trained them for over half a decade would have instilled the necessary skills to go out on the ward to care and treat patients competently.
More time in a clinical environment and less time in lectures and communication skills sessions may prove beneficial, many students say.
Being a patient on this day may be a daunting thought after having read these statistics. However, you may be faced with the advantage of being treated by a new, smart, ‘fresh-off-the-shelf ‘doctor who will ask all the questions and run all the tests out of sheer enthusiasm or more simply to cover his/her back. This is in comparison to their seniors – the semi retired consultant or the busy specialist who will have a preformed diagnosis with a quick glance at your medical notes. Worn out by years of experience, they will most probably order the tests familiar to them.
The enthusiasm of the new doctor could save your life. So let us reconsider, should we now rename the 1st August of 2012 from ‘Black Wednesday’ to ‘Magic Wednesday’ and lift the spirits of both patients and staff alike?
Naadirah Vali (young student in the UK with a passion for medicine), Usman Adam (Editor, JPMS Medical Blogs)
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