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Finding Your Feet

Dr Audrey Guo is an advanced trainee currently working in the Northern Territory.


Moving hospitals is hard. New people, new systems, new commutes, new routines. New pagers, new titles, new responsibilities. This hospital is number 6. It’s still just as hard as it ever was. The first time, it was an adventure – a peek into how another hospital worked. The second time, it was stressful – how to be “perfect” every day at work, to impress at a new job. This time, it’s a little bit of everything – an adventure, a bit exhausting, a bit anxiety provoking.

The familiarity of the ICU routine is superseded by the new faces, the new names and new equipment to learn. How do I get to ED? How do I get to the anaesthetic recovery bay? Why doesn’t my swipe work? Where have I left my pen, and my list?! A familiar procedure, done countless times, now feels foreign – the CVC kit has a different needle; the ultrasound is large and unwieldy, the drapes and even the dressing are different. My regular glove size isn’t available.

After a few days, some of the foreignness wears off. I begin to notice the differences in practice, and appreciate the consideration behind it. I remember where the stairs to ED are, first go. I get a couple of the names of nurses mixed up, but eventually, I get there. I remember vaguely where the probe covers live in the storeroom, even if I don’t find them immediately. Finally, I look out of the window of the unit long enough to notice how beautiful the view is.

After a few weeks, it doesn’t feel completely foreign walking through the gates of the hospital. I recognise enough faces and remember enough names to smile, through my mask. I know what to expect from the shift, how to ask for help, where the best coffee is. My senior resident confides that today, she was so pleased she felt like she’d progressed, by bringing order to chaos at a MET call. It feels wonderful to have a junior colleague feel safe and encouraged enough to share their achievements.

The transition from one hospital to another is tiring, but as the dust settles, it becomes clear that pushing myself out of the comfort of a tertiary centre is good for growth. The new people are incredible clinicians, the new patients are humbling; the new systems are at times clever, at times frustrating. The new commute is 3 minutes, the new responsibilities are rewarding. The new pager is still unwanted.

Today, from resident to consultant, the whole team is female. Although there are more and more as I go through training, there are so many days where this isn’t the case – and every time it is, it’s always special – encouraging, inspirational, aspirational, and enjoyable.

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