Yesterday one of the people in my group went home with a “migraine” brought on by not wanting to sit through our afternoon group work. This really annoyed me for several reasons. First of all it was annoying that this person couldn’t be bothered turning up for a few hours when the rest of us made the effort. Secondly, people often use migraines as an easy excuse to be off ill (I suppose because they come on quickly and don’t last too long). I genuinely suffer quite badly from migraines, so much so in fact that I have to take propranolol daily to try to prevent them, although I still sometimes do get them. Since taking the medication I get them less often, but when I do get them I can’t do anything but whimper in bed and wait for it to go away. I get severe photophobia, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting, and worst of all is the pain which is unbearable at times, but because everyone’s always got a “migraine” I think that people don’t realise just how severe and debilitating they generally are.
If people call in sick regularly then other colleagues/students and managers tend to lose sympathy and start having the attitude that people are probably just pulling a sickie or exaggerating symptoms to have a day off. This leads to people feeling guilty when they genuinely have to take the day off due to illness and puts people under pressure to come in even if they are ill. This culture seems to be very prolific in doctor land where it’s often heavily frowned on to have a sick day - “letting the team down” or “not very hardcore”. Fair enough, doctors rotas and workload are often very tight in hospital, leaving the rest of the team to try to cover the sick doctor as well as carrying out their normal work, but sometimes people are genuinely too ill to be in work and need to take the day off without feeling guilty about doing so! Doctors look after everyone else, but it’s frowned upon to look after ourselves? And what about infection control and not spreading illnesses to patients?! It’s not just in doctor land that this type of culture exists either, from my experiences it’s also very prolific within pharmacists and nurses too. Last year I witnessed one doctor who was in so much back pain that she could barely walk down the corridor. A few of her colleagues acknowledged her pain and gave her some sympathy, but not one of them offered to help her or suggested that maybe she should go home, which is where she clearly should have been. Compassion and empathy anyone? I’ve also been reading accounts of pregnant doctors who felt pressured to carry on working and doing on-calls until very late in their pregnancy, beyond what they felt comfortable and safe doing. If a pregnant woman came into clinic, the doctor would be the first person to tell them that they shouldn’t be exerting themselves beyond what they felt was safe for the safety of both patient and baby. Basically, just don’t call in sick unless you are genuinely too ill to come into work, and don’t make people feel guilty for being off sick if they are genuinely ill.
The second thing that annoyed me today was a fellow student in my lecture this morning. We had a guest lecturer who was a consultant in the field he was speaking about and was generally a very good and interesting teacher. The lecturer made a point (about what’s not really important), to which this student put up his hand, and without waiting to be acknowledged by the lecturer, said “I think you mean……”. The lecturer seemed taken aback by this but then clarified his point, to which this student then interrupted again, saying “are you sure” and then at the end of the lecture went up and challenged him on it. I found this incredibly rude and disrespectful! If the student had a point to make about what we were being taught there’s a polite way of discussing it with the lecturer, without interrupting him and being quite hostile. The guest lecturer didn’t have to agree to come in to teach us today, but he did and personally I think that all lecturers should be treated with respect, but more so if they’re a guest lecturer as his behaviour reflects badly on the rest of us students and the med school and may mean that he may not agree to come and teach next year.