I can still remember my first day as a doctor very clearly. It is something that I had been looking ................. (1) to since I first chose my A level subjects eight years earlier. Now the actual day had
finally come I was absolutely shitting myself and wondering if I wanted to be there at all. We spent most of the first day having induction-type talks. These consisted of a fire safety talk and an
introduction ................. (2) a medical lawyer on how best not to get sued.
Not particularly confidence boosting.
As the induction day drew to a close, most of the other new doctors went to the pub. Not me though. I was doing my first ‘on call’ on my first-ever night as a doctor. This may have been the short straw for some but, ................. (3) frightened, I was excited and keen to get my first on call over with. This night would be the making of me, I thought to myself. By this ................. (4) tomorrow, I would
be feeling like an old pro and be regaling heroic stories of my life-saving antics to my admiring colleagues in the pub. It was going to be like losing my virginity all over again. My brand-new
shirt was ironed and ................. (5) a couple of sizes too big, my white coat was starched and gleaming. I had a sensible haircut and a stethoscope round my neck. I looked at myself in the
mirror astounded that I really was a doctor!
I picked up my pager at five that evening and sat there looking at it timidly. This small black
box would come to be hated by me during my future years as a hospital doctor. This box would
wake me ................. (6) sleep and interrupt my meals. When completely overloaded with work and feeling
like I couldn’t cope, this small inconspicuous little box would bleep and tell me that I had
another five urgent things to deal with. Of course I was unaware of all of this on that first
innocent evening. Instead, I had a naïve excitement that I was finally considered important enough
to have my own pager and that it might actually go off. I had been practising ................. (7) I should best answer it:
‘Hello, it’s Dr Daniels, vascular surgical house officer.’
That’s right, my first job was as the junior in the vascular surgery team. I didn’t really know
what vascular surgery was, but I liked the sound of it. Perhaps I could drop the house officer bit
and just answer by saying: ‘Hi. Dr Daniels, vascular surgeon.’ Hmm that would sound much
more impressive. I could just picture the attractive nurse swooning ................. (8) the other end of the line.
To my surprise, at about ten minutes past five my pager did go off. I took a deep breath and
answered the call: ‘Hi. Dr Daniels, vascular surgeon.’ There was a sigh from the other end of the
telephone. It ................. (9) my consultant and new boss. ‘You are not a vascular surgeon, you are my most
junior and least useful helper monkey. Some poor bastard has popped his aorta and I’m going to
be in theatre with the registrar all evening trying to fix him. I need you to order us a chicken chow
mein, a sweet and sour pork and two egg fried rice. Have them delivered to theatre reception.’
The phone went dead. That was it. All those years of study and my first job as a doctor was to
order a Chinese takeaway. Consultant surgeons have a wonderful way of ensuring that their junior doctors don’t get ................. (10) themselves.