“Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability”. —William Osler
This statement sums up the life of a doctor quite nicely. Of course, there is no such thing as a “typical” day. Each day is different, and there are many types of doctors. There are gynaecologists, endocrinologists, oncologists, gastroenterologists and the list is endless. S, it is very natural that their life can’t be the same. So, here is a description of how a day of a doctor really looks like.
A Typical Day in the Life of a Doctor
Well, the eight or more hours of work are all about back-to-back meetings. A doctor’s bread and butter is seeing patients, and each appointment is essentially a meeting with a client. You check the details of the case, try and get a sense of what’s going on, and then figure out the medicines–often trying to do this within a half hour.
The thinking process is a lot like troubleshooting a broken device, only it’s from a foreign manufacturer. You possess thousands of different but crude tools, and you can only try to fix the device so many times. When someone comes in with a complaint, you think of a bunch of things it could be (your differential diagnosis) and then ask questions to try and narrow it down and separate it from similar problems. Then you choose your tests and hope that you can pin down the source of the problem to something in particular (your diagnosis). Then you figure out if the problem is fixable.
The finer details of the job depend on the work setting. If you work in a hospital on a medical team, it’s like being an officer in the military, or a middle manager in a large company. Middle managers don’t do the grunt work–you’re paid to figure out what work needs to be done, make sure that the work is done, and bear the responsibility of right and wrong decisions. It is accomplished by a lot of paperwork–meeting patients to find out their issues, documenting your findings and your thinking process, writing orders, communicating those orders to other healthcare professionals to act on them.
If you work in a clinic, it’s more like being a small business owner. The work is the same, but you have a bit more autonomy and control over the setup, though you aren’t able to get your results or make changes quite as quickly. We spoke to some doctors to understand what their routine is to better understand the point in question.
Dr. Sheryl D’souza
“I work four days a week for about 10 hours a day. I have my own clinic as well as work for a well-known hospital. My day usually starts at 9 am, and I prefer taking new patients first as they take more time than follow-ups. Since I am a neurologist, I have to sometimes rush for emergency cases to the hospital and take care of the patients. I spend a considerable time in reading up the patient history before I start my day. After having back-to-back patients till 1 pm, I come home for quick lunch. I go the hospital in the evening, and it’s the same routine of seeing patients.
I am also involved with my children’s schools and sports activities, so I make it a point that I squeeze in some time for it. I enjoy my work but I work hard, and then in late evenings, I spend time with my family and friends.
I also travel for meetings and conferences. I usually take my family with me on these trips so they can enjoy the experience of new cities.
Dr. Akshita Shetty
“I don’t have a typical day. I generally begin the day performing rounds at the hospital. This involves going to various patients (such as the newborn nursery and paediatric ward), where he/she visits with the patient’s family members, takes vitals and checks the patient’s status. After two or three hours of rounds, I go to my private office to begin patient appointments. The busyness of the day sometimes depends on the season – for example, wintertime tends to be a busier season for paediatric appointments due to flu season and other wintertime ailments. Throughout afternoon, I am generally signing forms, writing prescriptions and conducting other necessary paperwork. Most of the times, I end my day around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., but this varies.
Overall, my day is very busy. Patient appointments are one small part of a paediatrician’s job – but that small part impacts the lives of many people. I try not to schedule anything work-related on the weekends, but we occasionally have community outreach events that take some time.
This is how it’s like to be a practising doctor. It’s hard to describe one day because every day is very different. As long as doctors come equipped with a great attitude and a stethoscope, their is exciting with many opportunities to learn and develop their clinical skills.
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