Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Career Diaries: What It's Like Being An ER Doctor Who Also Does Teleconsultations


Name: Dr Sanjeev Shanker
Occupation: Emergency Medicine Specialist (ER Doctor), Family Physician
Age: 36
Years of experience: 10
Education background: MB BCh BAO (RCSI), Masters of Medicine (E. Med). MRCEM (UK), GDFM, GDOM, GDSM, DWD
Years with International Specialist Medical Services: 2
Top 3 skills: Multilingual, Med-tech savvy, Empathy
Best lesson learned on the job: There is nothing wrong with being OCD when looking after patients.

Why did you become a doctor?

I wanted a profession where I dealt with other human beings directly and my actions had a positive and visible impact on their lives

What is the one thing that keep you going?

Every day is different. Event patient is different. The only constant is change.

Growing up, what did you want to be?

I wanted to a be a lawyer for the longest time. However, just before I was going to start law school, I realised that reality was not what I had seen on TV shows and learned that the sheer amount of paperwork that law actually involved was not for me.

What are some of the reactions you usually get when you tell people what you do?

Right now, sometimes it’s fear. Some people think I’m a walking disease-carrying petri dish. However, most people think I must be very intelligent. My wife will attest to the fact that that is not at all true. I make up for it with persistent hard work.

How would you describe your job to someone who has never heard of it?

My specialty is about 50% accurate based on what you see on TV shows like ER and maybe even Grey’s Anatomy. The doctors and nurses in the A&E really do see patients at their worst.

What are the expectations of being an ER Doctor?

Quick-witted, decisive, able to handle high stress situations and able to lead teams of healthcare professionals.

What is the best thing about being an ER Doctor?

When you intervene in a very sick patient and see the improvements immediately, it can be very rewarding.

What was one thing about the job that surprised you after you joined?

Dealing with social issues was not something that was taught in Medical School. However, it is often important that we deal with the home situations of the patient to ensure that they can go home and recover safely.

Here's what a day in his life is like.

6am – I wake up and go for a 1-hour run. I come home, brush my teeth, shower and change into my scrubs.

7.30am – I do 30 minutes of telemedicine consults to start the day.

8am – I drive down to Marina South Pier or West Coast Pier to take a small boat to the large merchant ships to see sailors who need medical care. I bring along advanced medical equipment like ECG machines, ultrasound machines and medications as required. It’s almost like a mobile A&E.

12pm – I spend the next 2 hours either at my clinic with scheduled patient appointments or doing house visits. I work with partners such as Homage to deliver hospital quality care at the comfort and convenience of the patients’ homes. This can involve simple routine checkups to more advanced care such as intravenous drips and medications, ultrasound scans, blood tests, catheter insertions and even minor surgical procedures. The house visits are mainly for patients who are either too weak or sick to make their way to clinics or hospital. Especially during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, home-delivered medical care is rapidly become the preferred choice for many patients. It also helps offload the burden of healthcare away from the hospitals so that they are better positioned to manage outbreaks of disease.

2pm – The next hour or so is spent with more telemedicine consults.

3pm – I spend the next eight hours at one of the Restructured Hospital’s Accident & Emergency Department as a Visiting Consultant. I supervise junior doctors under my charge looking after large numbers of patients. These include patients from newborns to even those above 100 years of age. No A&E shift is the same and its always exciting wondering what kind of cases I would have to deal with for the day.  My only meal for the day is usually squeezed in at an opportune time during the shift.

11pm – I hand over the A&E to the night shift team and make my way home. I spend 45 minutes weight training at home while watching my favourite Netflix shows. This is also usually the time when I discuss the events of the day with my wife. When the day only has 24 hours, multitasking is essential to accomplish all I want for the day

12.30am – I have a shower and hit the sack. I usually have no problem sleeping and the moment my head touches the pillow, I am fast asleep. That’s a real blessing.

During the day when I have any window of spare time, I try to rush home to spend time with my four-month-old baby girl. It is the thing I look forward to most every day.

More from mosAIC:

What It's Like Being A Healthcare Assistant In Community Care
What it's Like Working in Community Partnerships in a Community Care Organisation
What it’s Like Being a Physiotherapist in Singapore

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