Housemanship rants: settle your own shit

It’s no secret that housemen work their asses off doing what we call ‘joblists’ and scurrying around like rats frantically trying to complete what has been planned for the patients before their superiors do their rounds, day in and day out.

Sometimes, one would come across something a task in the joblist that was planned the day before or the shift before that hasn’t been done, and when that happens, one can be forgiven for grumbling and silently cursing the previous HO who didn’t do it. It’s what I call leaving your shit to other people.

Why does uncompleted joblists evoke such a big emotional response? Because the HO in charge for the day would face the consequence even if he or she know nothing about the plan for the patient the day before. No such thing as “not my patient” or “I didn’t review the patient yesterday”. Because ultimately every patient is your patient. So if something wasn’t done, and you have the luck to be the one who’s taking care of said patient, then be prepared to either pull a Superman stunt to do it before rounds or swallow the wrath of the MO’s or specialists.

“Why wasn’t it done?”

Why indeed.

Never mind the fact that we are humans and we can’t duplicate ourselves.

Fact is, leaving shits to other people is a daily occurrence. I have been guilty of it, and I have also been at the receiving end of it. Most of the time I would just do it and not complain. Why? Because why bother getting yourself worked up over something that would take your two or three minutes to settle rather than confront others.

Granted, there are certain species that regularly leave behind nasty excrements for others to clean up, and these people deserve the scolding.

I recently got to know that FY house officers in UK can just handover whatever is left in their joblist to the next shift and go home.


Maybe it’s because UK people are generally nicer. Or the fact that its way easier to do things there, everything is computerised etc.

It doesn’t work that way here unfortunately. We still have to send bloods manually by walking to the lab 3 mins away, and trace the results manually ourselves via the only computer and take photos of the result through a glass screen like some kind of Paleolithic age cavemen (at least that’s how it is in SGH).

And whatever happened during your shift, you have to complete everything, even if it means staying beyond your working hours. Never mind the fact that we don’t get overtime pay.

It’s manageable if you have good rapport and have a deep sense of teamwork. When you have teammates or friends that understand you’re exhausted, and they cast the yoke upon themselves and pull the weight together with you, facing the shitstorm together – when it happens, housemanship becomes something quite enjoyable. All because you have friends that do understand what you’re going through, and you’re not alone.

But when you’re working with selfish people who grumble or disappear for no reason and you’re left all alone to settle all the pending jobs, and at the same time getting scolded for not getting things done fast enough, that’s when your morale would drop like a stone, and going to work feels like torture. I’ve been there and it’s not a nice feeling.

Housemanship is a tortuous journey. Everyone is tired. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone leaves shit for others. But it would be slightly more bearable if everyone sacrifices just a little bit to help their fellow colleagues. Teamwork is key. Life wouldn’t suddenly be a bed of roses, but it wouldn’t suck that bad either.

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