12 Important Tips For Surviving The Housemanship Year



When it comes to housemanship, it is a case of different strokes for different folks.

For some, it is just a piece of cake, while others feel it’s a very difficult endeavour.

In this blog post, we’re going to be looking at the essential tips you need in order to survive or make it through your housemanship without much hitches.

You may also like to read our blog post on the interesting benefits you get during your housemanship period.

How To Survive Housemanship In Nigeria

Housemanship is challenging for some and normal or easy for others.

This is because this is a critical period when a doctor is making a transition from being a medical student to being a full fledged medical doctor.

That transition from medical student to medical doctor occurs in an instant after you pass your final MBBS exam in medical school.

However, the reality takes a while to adjust to. This plays out for many people during the housemanship programme.

Some new doctors find it difficult to make the necessary adjustments and strike a balance as soon as possible.

We have compiled tips you need to know in order to do well during your house job. The tips are as follows:

1) Understand you’re still a newbie in the profession.

You are still very young in the profession. Some people may even call you “baby doctor”,” junior doctor” or even “student doctor”. Ha ha.

That’s the stage you are in and you should enjoy it. The advantage of this is that it removes a lot of pressures on you.

You’re not under pressure to impress anybody, neither are you under pressure to be a hero.

Understanding that you are still growing gives you peace of mind and then you are able build your medical foundation.

At this level, you need to understand the basics of the profession and then consolidate on your experiences.

You will not be a house officer forever. You will also not be a newbie doctor forever. As you keep growing and keep applying yourself in the medical field, you will know more.

Don’t allow people make you feel bad. Don’t let people’s comments about you demoralize you.

2) Learn to take care of yourself

As doctors, we are trained to take care of sick people, sometimes to the detriment of our health.

As a house officer, you should realize that it takes a healthy person to take care of a sick person.
As such, learn how to manage stress and maintain good physical and mental health.

When you are healthy and fit, you can take care of your patients very well. When you are not healthy or when you are sickly, or look depressed, you may even negatively affect your patients.

Utilize your off work periods, and even when you are on leave, to relax and unwind.

3) Be always on time

Many hospitals have a time for starting time for daily acivities. Most times, call hours are from 4pm-8am the following day.

This means that you should be at work by 8am on every day. Coming before the time can also be an advantage.

As a house officer, you will be expected to come and see your patients even before the other members of your unit arrive.

When other members of your unit arrive, there are questions they may ask you about the patients which if you are not on time, which you may not be able to answer satisfactorily if you are a late comer and you have not had the time to elicit those responses.

This may give a bad impression of you to your seniors.

4) Find out what is required of you when you begin the housemanship

The best thing to do is to be on time and stay for as long as you can and do everything that is required of you.

As you get into a new unit, find out what are the expectations of a house officer working in that unit. Ask people who have previously worked in that unit. Also ask the residents and even the unit Consultant.
This helps you become an effective team player

In some units the expectations of house officers are even more specific. There might be some things that are done in the units which they want the house officers to do.

For instance, some patient documentations, patient sample collections and examinations, and even some research.

When you come into those units, try and understand how the unit functions. Try and understand what they need the house officer to do. There are some things that if you don’t do as a house officer, it may be unpardonable by the powers that be in such units.

When you find out these things, take note of them in your booklet and keep doing them.

5) Have a checklist or to do list

This can be every week or every day

You need to have a list of the things you need to do. For instance, you have patients, you can put in your list what you need to do for your patients that day or within the week as the unit house officer.

Carry this list around. Look at this from time to time and check the ones that have been done.

For the ones that have not been done, take note of them and also take note of the time limits you have in order to do them.

This way you always have close to your mind the things you need to do and then you can strategize how to do them as soon as possible so that you get better results.

6) Do not argue unnecessarily with your seniors

During housemanship, you will come across a lot of personalities. Do not agree unnecessarily.

Remember you’re still in training so try as much as possible to avoid unnecessary disputes or arguments with your seniors.

These include your unit consultants and the residents in the unit.

This may give a bad impression of you or make you appear “untrainable”.
When you have something you don’t understand or something you need clarification about, you need to ask politely.

When you feel you have a better opinion, discuss it politely with your unit members. Don’t brag or be condescending about it.

You need to harness your communication skills. You need to be seen as a good team player.

Yes, you may occasionally disagree. You may not understand everything that is said, but then the way you pass the message across is going to determine a lot of things.

7) Ask questions and make them intelligent

As a House officer, remember, you are learning, so you’re going to come in contact with a lot of things you don’t understand.

When you meet any challenge, write it down in your paper.

Also, at the nearest opportunity you have, ask other members of your team.

This is important because once they answer and clarify those questions and you meet such issues again tomorrow, you are better equipped to deal with them.

Overall, this makes you a better doctor. When you have any queries, do not hide them. Ask questions and ask as often as you can.

Also, try to ask your questions in an intelligent manner. After all, you spent up to six years in medical school, so you are not a dull learner by any stretch of the imagination.

So when you want to ask questions, hit the nail on the head and let them understand clearly what you mean.

8) Keep on reading

As a house officer, you don’t know it all. In fact, you are still at the early stages of your medical career.

Therefore, you need to keep on reading and learning

Lay your hands on relevant textbooks, articles and journals that will help you learn more.

Also, try to avail yourself of departmental seminars, ward rounds, clinics, discussions, symposiums and so on in order to learn more.

As you keep availing yourself of these opportunities, you see that your wealth of knowledge and experience will keep on increasing.

9) Network with your colleagues

As a house officer, you need to network with members of your team. These are the people you work with every day. You’re going to learn the ropes of the medical practice from them.

You’re going to pick up a lot of skills too when you walk closely with them.

Apart from members of your team, you also need to network with other house officers so that you can share experiences with them and also know how to respond in different situations.

You also have other healthcare professionals which you should be on good terms and also know how to communicate effectively with these ones.

You need to be a team player. That is what it boils down to.

At the end of the day, you’re going to achieve more and better when you network with people, and you’re going to be exposed to more opportunities for development both personally and in your professional career, when you network with people.

10) Always have the big picture in mind

When we talk of Housemanship, that is not your end point, even though it is the starting point of your medical career
At every point in time, continue to look at who you want to be at the end.

Maybe in ten years time, or in 15 years time as a doctor, the heights you may want to achieve should be enough motivation to keep you going.

At the end of the day, this will help you to motivate you to put in more effort and more drive into becoming a better doctor.

11) Know your limits

Some doctors run into problems because they don’t know their boundaries. They don’t know their limits.

As a House officer, you’re not trying to be a hero. You are still learning.

So when you come across patients both within and outside the hospital, realize the limits to which you relate to them or the limits to which you can act in the medical capacity.

For the person or the people asking for your help or opinion, direct them to the rightful channel to get the solution to their medical problems.

This is because it is unethical if you begin to attempt what a Consultant, for instance, should do at the level of Housemanship.

Secondly, when a trouble comes out of it, you are going to pay dearly because it’s going to put a lot of stress on you and even your seniors will be angry with you.

At the end of the day, you may be sanctioned or disciplined by the authorities. So, this makes it imperative that you don’t take on what you are not qualified to do.

Also, when you’re overworked or you feel so much pressure, cry out for help so that the other members of the unit can come to your aid.

12) Learn from your Mistakes

During Housemanship, you will make mistakes. Some will be inevitable, while others will be outright silly and unnecessary mistakes

However, where the problem is when you don’t learn from your mistakes.
Whatever mistake you’ve made, learn from it and move on. Don’t dwell on your past mistakes.

However, those mistakes should be stepping stones for you to aim higher.

Whenever you make a mistake and are corrected, take note of that mistake, learn the lessons from it, and strengthen yourself in that area.

This can be opportunity for learning and performing better.

Wrapping Up

In this blog post, we have discussed the eleven essential tips you need to know in order to survive housemanship and have a wonderful house job experience

Which of these tips did you find most interesting? Are there any of these tips you have tried and they worked for you?

Kindly comment below.


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