Each episode is a snapshop, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. Season one talks to our 2020 graduates about how things are going, or not going, for them. In episode twenty three we meet MBChB graduate Elson.
Each month we meet five more graduates. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about this weird and unpredictable time.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
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Music: Since When by Mise Darling.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 0:07
This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season one, class of 2020.
Elson Musenga, a recent grad from Edinburgh, studying medicine, so graduated last year, sort of April, March time because we were made to graduate early. And since then I've been working as a junior doctor in Edinburgh, and in Glasgow as well. At the minute, we are feeling the pressure quite a bit, because everyone knows winter's always a lot of pressure on the NHS and then you add a pandemic on top of that. So I think everyone is feeling that, when you sort of walk around in the hospital, you can kind of feel it, sort of like tension. And then everyone's sort of waiting to see what happens for the rest of the year, because I think everyone was hoping that 2021 would be a lot better. The way the hospital sort of react at the moment is quite different from the way it reacted last year around this time. The first wave of the pandemic, everything was quite different. A lot of... I think there was a bit of a panic, everyone thought it was going to be a lot worse than it was and they redeployed a lot of staff and they just rejiggered a lot of their services. But now everything is still functioning as it used to be, but then you've got a pandemic, and there isn't the same level of support that we had in the first wave. It's a lot more sort of pressured an environment.
We all graduated early, which meant that there was quite a lot of extra support for like the junior doctors, because we had medical students who had recently graduated and were sort of acting up. But now everyone is sort of fatigued by it and really fed up with it. And I think that's how I feel about it. And like where am I mentally with the work...it's sort of hard to conceptualise because we started work in a time when the way people work is very different to what it used to be. But we did have that experience of what it used to be. So this is our experience of us. During the summer, I plan to go back to Zambia, where I'm from to work in the hospitals there and just see how healthcare is there compared to here, gaining greater like sort of clinical skills and exposure, and then bring that to the UK and have a different perspective. I was also thinking of going down some of the public health route, and I plan to do some projects in the community when I was down in Zambia, but obviously, none of that happened. So all of our electives got cancelled, so I didn't get that experience.
In terms of working, it's actually not that different from what I would have expected, the actual day to day work is similar - medicine doesn't really change. It's just, I think it's more of the social aspect, like outside of work that's drastically different from what I imagined it would be. So for example, like socialising, like meeting new people socialising, like new colleagues, meeting up with a lot of my old colleagues who a lot of us sort of moved to Glasgow from Edinburgh. So that would have been quite a nice thing to do. But I haven't seen a lot of my classmates from Edinburgh, I haven't really gotten to know a lot of the team in the hospitals in terms of the junior doctors... it's hard to socialise, you can't really socialise and then we could only just see each other at work. And I live alone....so we just, I just work - I don't really do anything else than work, because there's nothing to do outside of work.
When I was in uni, I did sort of a bit of politics, I joined like a mai tai club, and I was trying to carry a lot of those things over to when I started work in Glasgow - I got quite excited about joining different clubs and things. But then everything is closed, you can't really go to the gym, you can't really do a lot of indoor sport activities, which is really what I'm in to. So that's, that's been a bit difficult to change your 10 year routine and work out what I can do. The other thing is reading. I'm quite a big reader, I've always been, since childhood. So that sort of always has been a natural, to give me a bit of a break from reality. I've planned this year to get back into that, because I haven't really been into it in a while. So that's something that I'm sort of looking into, because there's not really much else I can do.
I mean, I've had days off, I think, of downtime, but I haven't really had a proper break in that sense. Because I didn't really have a summer holidays, I just went straight into work. And then August came and we started our new jobs. So I haven't had a gap where I could sort of sit down and reconsider and think about what I'm doing. It's always just been sort of work, work, work, work, and just waiting to sort of stop and reflect about what's happened the last year, which I haven't really had the time to do. I'm planning to get a moment to reflect so I'm thinking of taking a year out after I finish my current training programme and I can think about what I've done in the previous two years and what I'll be sort of hoping in the future. Once everything has sort of calmed down a bit and everything returns to some sort of normality, whether that's a new normality or an old normality. So after my two years of foundation training, then I'll take a third year, probably I'm thinking somewhere like Australia, New Zealand, sort of go there, work in a different environment, take a break a bit of a holiday, nicer weather, and then reconfigure my career plans and come back to training with that sort of new perspective about what I want to gain out of life and where I'm going. Of course at the moment, it's very hard to plan it's very hard to think about, because we don't really know what's going to happen month to month.
See, I'm from Zambia moved over here around 200,7 sort of lived in the UK for more than half my life. Most of my immediate family are over here - sisters, and mum and dad. And they're working. They're based in Edinburgh, my sister's here in Glasgow. So they're close enough that I see them, we keep in touch. Like my dad's a pharmacist, so he's dealing with healthcare stuff, my mom's a nurse, she's dealing with the same thing, both sisters are nurses, dealing with the same thing. So we're all I guess, in the same sort of headspace with regards to work, because we understand each other when I come back from work, and I'm talking to my mum about the things I'm dealing with, she understands because she's dealing with the same thing.
I've been a doctor for quite a while now. So I'm kind of used to that idea. So the idea of being a student and being back in that sort of mental space of or I'm just about to graduate, the sort of excitement, the novelty of all of it, that's sort of worn down. I do regret the fact that we didn't really get a proper ending, sort of looking forward to graduation and graduation as sort of an endpoint for us that we never really reached properly, or had a proper conclusion to. So it still feels up in the air. But then, because we're working, we've been working and being in healthcare for quite a while, we have sort of moved away from that sort of mentality. It's a half and half emotion. And it's hard to envision that we'll be able to have a proper graduation ceremony, summer 2021, the way things are now. So it's just how things are gonna be.
Outside of all the sort of doom and gloom, it's actually been quite a good year for me in a lot of ways as well, because getting the option to start work early, was quite useful in terms of like getting my clinical experience and clinical exposure. So when I actually started working as a proper foundation doctor, the transition from being a student to be a doctor was sort of blurred, so it was a lot easier transition, like working as a doctor has been a lot easier than it probably would have otherwise been if I didn't have that early experience. And I'm at a point where I've gotten a better understanding of what I want to do with my life and what I don't want to do. And where I see myself, I can see an obvious sort of endpoint and an obvious sort of path to take from here.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 7:51
We also asked our graduates to share a place. Somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this has finished.
There are a lot of potential places. The one thing that I keep on returning to within myself as well, sometimes when I'm feeling a bit stressed...so prior to the work, I was like... it must have been 2019 was the last time I went on a proper holiday so to speak, me and a classmate of mine went to Croatia for something called like an October break. And we went to Split and Dubrovnik. And there's a sort of...we went to a beach in Split that I remember quite vividly. That was a really nice day, really nice weather. Everything was very calm....there wasn't really that many people around because it was around the time of the year when most of the visitors have gone, because I think it was an unusually long summer. So it's very quiet, um.... and it was the last place I remember feeling like completely at peace with myself and the world. And I completely relaxed. And since then everything has sort of moved very quickly because after that summer, we went straight into exams and then graduation, then working. And so everything has been very quick and very pressured. And that was the last days I felt like everything was good in life and everything was.... like the future was bright, and we're looking forward to so many things um..... I think that's where I would return to, that point.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 9:12
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten Roche 9:26
Feeling inspired by what you've just heard? Take the first step to getting the career you want by contacting the Careers Service. As a recent graduate, you can continue to access all of our services, including access to vacancies on My Career Hub, practice interviews, our full calendar of online employer events, and online appointments with one of our careers consultants. Find out at ed.ac.uk/careers
Transcribed by https://otter.ai