There comes a time in every South African doctor's life which is very very scary. It induces hyperventilation, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
It's called the "What the hell do I do after Community Service???" conundrum.
You see - us medics are notorious for being a really responsible bunch. We go to school for twelve years. Study hard and get into medschool. Then we are handed the next six years of our lives in the form of obtaining our MBChB's. While we are doing this we watch the business graduates and BA students partying up a storm. We think really long and hard about changing to Bcom or business science - but then decide against it cos we're too far down that "becoming a doctor" road and what the hell are we going to do with three or four years of a six year course? Nobody is really going to give you credit for that, and there's no bridging degree!
After that we are instructed as to the next three years of our lives in the form of two years of internship and a year of community service. We accept all of this without question, and do as we are told.
So effectively - after school, the last almost decade of our lives have been set out for us, cast in stone, inscribed on our foreheads, tattoed on our eyeballs.
"You will do this, then you will do that and then you will do this!'
We haven't been in charge of our own lives at all! Our daily schedules, amount of free time, where we work - whether or not we can attend that birthday breakfast on a Saturday morning or not -- have all been determined by health authorities and on-call rosters.
But that's all coming to an end in under 7 months.
So now what?
What the hell are you people asking me to do? Actually make a decision for myself? That's LUDICROUS! You didn't teach us how to do that!
Now I have to make a decision on my own, and go and apply for jobs, and go for interviews, or not go for interviews and go overseas. Or not go overseas and stay in SA where the government is constantly finding novel ways to make our working conditions worse and having a rate-limiting fixed amount of overtime payment - despite working far more than the required overtime hours.
Also - what jobs should I actually apply for?
Should I specialise?
If I specialise then I'm committing to five years of hard grafting. Furthemore - what specialty should I choose? There are like three hundred thousand options. Actually 299 998 because I will never do paediatrics or obstetrics.
Should I not specialise and open up a gp practice?
Also - I have OVARIES. These ovaries are busy shutting down as we speak. If I specialise then it would be prudent to put off having a child until I've finished. But then I'll be 59 years old or something and my baby-making capabilities will have passed. Why don't men have to deal with this problem. Oh yeah - cos they can still inseminate when they're 79.
AND - do I actually want a child? (But that's another blog post waiting to happen.)
Deep deep sigh. All of these questions are now constantly lurking under the surface of my usually crystal clear pool of a mind. It's unsettling.
The hubby suggested we take two months off to travel through India. At the moment this seems like the most perfect option!
Any ideas, anyone?