By Ovundah Nyeche.
Weeks ago I was so hungry at work, that I decided to get a bite somewhere. As I was eating, I was also pondering on things I had left to do, there and then a patient walked in and said something I am still trying to decipher the meaning.
“Doctor you dey chop too?”Iya, afraid catch me, was this a question too? Truth however is that the expectations from the public is usually so much that many times you can burn yourself out trying to meet these expectations.
Not too long later, I got a call from someone, this time a colleague, another colleague was going through a traumatic experience and I was close to this person and I did not know or even see the signs or symptoms.
After the call, I called the colleague who was going through the traumatic experience, visited, talked with the colleague, offered spiritual support and had the phone number of my colleagues who were Psychiatrists on speed dial, just in case these measures failed.
The mental torture of the doctor starts from medical school. Many times with no guidance from and proper orientation about the medical school, people are thrown into the lion’s den and expected to survive.
From the first day you discover you are on your own, the orientation done by the medical school gives you more fear than hope. ” All of you here looking fine and happy, I assure you that more than half of you will not be doctors, some of you will be thrown out, as a medical student make sure you don’t party, make sure you don’t… Just read you books, you know you are special breeds and we are here to trim you”, the person holding the microphone says. You are not told where you should run to when you have issues.
And true to his words after the first year exams a lot of people are weeded out. There is no emotional support for these students weeded out and even those still in the programme don’t know what a guidance counselor really looks like.
Second year, you prepare for third year where you take your first major MB, other University students know about this and then you read, read, read, attend tutorials, tutorials, tutorials, do mock exams, Pray, Pray, Pray if you believe in prayers and boom the exam comes, a lot of people are weeded out too. Many times the lecturers are actually sad if the pass rate is high. An MB result is not an MB result if there are no failures or waff ( in English language this means withdrawal from the medical school).
Those that resit or repeat are in a state of torture, brilliant students from secondary school now so insecure, some already frustrated. The same cycle happens till you graduate.
You learn greed, your learn to absorb so much pressure, you learn to be on your own, and to do everything to pass, many times even at expense of your colleagues. You either learn how to hoard or distribute pass questions, depending on which school of thought you belong to. You also learn first hand how to do eye service and you learn how not to let your lecturers know you do anything apart from reading.
You graduate and the rat race continues, prayer point to do house job (Internship), you get the house job and the work load is too much, the psychological demands you go through when you lose patients; you are trained not to vent out, you are in the midst of suffering and you have to behave as though all is well.
Work, work, work, shout, shout, shout and sometimes extension, extension, extension with meagre or no pay. Meanwhile your folks out there think you are a big boy.
Then you are done and Youth service happens, the Medical officer routine and if you are lucky, residency and then the rat race begins all over again. Work, work, work, marathon calls, exams, no money to pay for a lot of things and then the exam failure, no one “Sends you”, no support when you fail and when you do not meet the demands, you are thrown out of the programme.
Many times you even complete the programme and discover that the fellowship you have just like a fellowship does not define your life. Like fellowship, you discover that “No be only you waka come and you ask yourself was all this worth it?
Depression is real, many doctors also never visit the psychiatrists or even access healthcare themselves.
And then with the gradual erosion of all forms of social support, with society becoming more westernized, with people learning how to carry burdens alone, with social media taking over family and friends the unexpected happens.
In another news
Somewhere this morning a colleague is all alone, as he faces his battles, if anything happens social media will be agog, but they watched when he swam the river alone.
Physicians heal thyself and be thy brother’s keeper.
Physician seek help and speak out.
Physician think not only about thyself.
God bless and keep you, do not look another way when you can offer help to someone, do not keep quiet when you need help.