Video of NUH junior doctor sharing struggles & demands of his job draws mixed reactions

A glimpse into the working life of a young doctor.

Alfie Kwa | May 29, 2022, 01:32 PM

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A new alumnus of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine shared how physically and mentally demanding it is to be a junior doctor in an interview published on the school's Facebook page recently.

The one-minute video featured a junior doctor from the National University Hospital named Calvin Tijo.

The purpose of this video was to give viewers an insider look at a life of a medical officer.

However, not all viewers took Tijo's candid sharing positively.

The video clip drew some criticism, with one saying that it is a "terrible video for the medical profession".

What was shared in the video?

The video began with Tijo sharing that he had completed a 20-hour shift and had not slept for two nights at the time of filming the video.

Tijo went on to say that sometimes he and his colleagues had to work for 30 hours or more without sleep, and they're expected to make crucial decisions that affect a patient's life.

Tijo also highlighted how stressful it can be to make such decisions, and it's not just about doing their best.

Tijo said:

"At each hour of the day, you are expected to make a decision that affects a patient's life whether they get better or worse. Possibly whether they live or they die. Despite your best efforts, the patient might get worse, the patient may not truly understand how much efforts you put in."

This kind of stress, for a long period, is something Tijo believes doctors can never be prepared for.

Tijo also shared that what the junior doctors had to deal with such as seeing deaths on a regular basis can change a person.

"Medicine and work will change who you are as a person. It is not normal to see death on such a regular basis. It changes your personality because you have many nights spent wondering whether there's something that you could have done better for that patient that passed on."

Therefore, it is important for junior doctors to be able to pace themselves well to meet the demands of the job.

Commenters divided

The Facebook video left commenters divided.

Some applauded Tijo and others in the profession for their efforts. One said: "Love how he shared. Hats off to you and the entire medical team of doctors. Thank you."

Others also praised Tijo for his honest sharing of what struggles doctors face.

On the flip side, some disapproved of how Tijo had been working long hours and is still responsible for a patient's wellbeing.

One wrote:

"Please do not glorify working long hours. It's bad for doctors and this old system needs to be remodeled. No patient wants to be checked by tired doctors who only know medicines but not wellness."

Others questioned if doctors are capable of making "sound decisions" when they've been working for hours without sleep.

NUS medicine school responds to concerns

Two days after the video was uploaded onto Facebook, the medicine school came out to address concerns shared by viewers in the comment section.

The school elaborated on the intent of sharing this short interview clip, here's their full comment:

"New junior doctors have steep learning curves and deal with many challenges. We made this video to give medical students and those considering pursuing a career in Medicine insights into the working life of a young doctor. As a new alumnus of the School, Dr Tijo speaks candidly about his own lived experience. We hope his sharing encourages and inspires those whose hearts are set on helping to make a difference in the health and well-being of people."

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Top images via NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine/FB.