Saturday, March 10, 2007

PMS, part I

Blogging has been sporadic of late. Have been extremely busy with paperwork, concurrent research projects and meetings. And am now attending a week-long 7am-8pm seminar hosted by my division. Also have been troubled by some career and financial issues the last few weeks. But anyways, I'm back now. And do I ever need to vent.
You have been warned.
Maybe I'm just stressed. But the one thing that bugs me is how this career in a place like this, can be so very demanding. Medicine in general is tough enough, but medicine in an extremely academic institution, brings it up a few notches. Take this, for example.
There are smart smart people. And then there are dumb smart people. I consider myself one. I'd call myself a dumb dumb person, except I know you're not going to believe me just coz I'm a physician and so by default I have to be smart (oh how wrong can you be, naive readers). So for simplicity I'll use dumb smart.
You see, being a doctor at a big institution, aside from seeing patients, you're expected to be up-to-date with current medical treatments. To be able to quote research papers from the top of your head. You're also expected to be a productive academician. Research.
I started my research year last July. In the meantime, I've published 2 papers (one of which an abstract), have another 2 manuscripts accepted for publication, authored a textbook chapter, and have another 2 manuscripts 80% ready for submission to a journal. I've also had 2 abstracts accepted for presentation at two national meetings. Maybe in another world, I'd feel satisfied, perhaps even pride. But no, I kid you not.
Being here, it's not only about publishing papers, but also what papers you publish (case reports vs metanalysis), how high the impact factor of the medical journal that accepted your paper, research grant money.
And when you're working alongside consultants with over 100-200 publications in their names, with R01 million-dollar research grants falling out of their pockets, who are world experts in their respective fields, it's easy to feel insignificant. Or lost, being in a lab full of PhD types. Made more apparent when even your good friend laughs at your lack of publications.
Put people together, and all they can talk about is their research and how they're going to be publishing some ground-breaking data. Me, talk about research makes me sick. If I could have it my way, I'd watch TV and relax on my weekends. But if I do, I feel so damn guilty not being productive. Really. I wish I could remember when I last slept a weekend away without feeling guilt.
Normally, I'd feel somemore pride, having run a free clinic at the local Salvation Army fortnightly for the last 2 years. Or having performed disaster relief work for a week. You'd think that that should amount to something. But sadly, it means squat to your career. It might mean the world to the patients you treat, but it usually elicits nothing more than a hmm, interesting to a professor. Not something that would get people to hire you.
And so, I plod along at this place. Blessed to be here, but really, feeling so extremely stupid or insignificant at times. Never been the type of person who remembers the exact month and year some paper was published, or understood biostatistics (ironic, seeing that I co-authored a book chapter about evidence-based medicine 2 years ago), or is able to grasp the subtleties of lipoprotein metabolism. Heck, half the time I don't even say the right things, and constantly suffer from the foot-in-mouth syndrome. If I didn't know better, I'd diagnose myself with dyslexia or ADHD or something.
Really, there are times I ask myself how on Earth did they mess up to let me into this place?

6 Comments:

Anonymous anigma said...

Aiyoh.. sounds so pessimistic. Not to worry. Just remember, you already did your best. Live life a little. do not regret what you have chosen. Think of the happier times when you helped patients and they came back to thank you for what you have done for them when others had given up hope.

Chin up, dude! I believe in you.

9:36 AM  
Blogger 4nOcean said...

What's interesting is I JUST posted on my blog about how LAZY I am. Now having read your blog, I'm truly the slug of the century. I had no idea you guys had such expectations. All I have to say is. . .THAT SUCKS. I realize that I've had small exposure to your medical practice, but for what it's worth, from my perspective, you are a very compassionate, intelligent and balanced doctor, and it was an honor to work with you. Life is short, and there is more to it than medicine, and for those that live it every minute of the day, are seriously depleted in the parts of life that you choose to enjoy (i.e., sliding down a snow covered hill on your ass, and driving other people's high-end vehicles).

9:09 PM  
Blogger flaminglambo said...

It all comes down to individual priorities. At times, we all feel like we're being torn apart in all directions from things that demand our attention but we can only do one thing at a time. It's important to remember that.

I used to think only losers say they don't have time for things but as responsibilities grow, time is always an issue. So, we have to make sacrifises. The way I see it, if I sacrifise something, I better be darn sure that it is what I want otherwise getting pumped up to do the task is going to be difficult in the long run.

Some people are just very responsible but the people who are passionate about things are the ones that sleep with a smile on their faces. Getting your priorities right moves you closer to the latter group.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous ront said...

somehow I know what you mean.....am in similar situation in a totally different profession...

5:19 AM  
Blogger PaulOS said...

You swinger you.. :p

Have always admired that in you.. i mean.. not the swinger part.. I mean about being real.

Am confident that, you will find solace in knowing that life is not about the stars, fame and acclaim of life today.. You may not think you've made a whole big impact in your life.. but you have made a world of a difference in the life of others.. Keep it real my bro..

As long as u achieve the purpose you have been created for..

The Lord give you peace :D

11:36 PM  
Blogger Deirdre said...

i feel much happier and satisfied having to serve the kampung people knowing that despite the lack of fascilities and that we make do with what we have, at least i could make a difference in their life rather than competing with colleagues in how many papers i have published.

5:50 AM  

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