The office

The plan was to write part two on career pathways but how can I write about anything else after all this?

I started an office job this year. Haven’t got over the novelty of coming and going from work at your own schedule, and being able to swap part-time days around without too much hassle. How good it is to wear nice shoes without worrying if your feet would hurt after being up in them all day, or put on clothes without needing to risk assess how likely it is for blood or urine to be spilt on it! Being able to make tea and munch on munchies all day long is delightful.

For years I’ve deliberately avoided everything that relies on too-many-gadgets and having an-app-for-everything. I’m more than content with a paper calendar, a USB on my key-chain, and Facebook for my social media needs. But if I’m so inflexible now, what will I be like in twenty, thirty years? So when I started at the office I learnt to organised my paperless life on Google Docs, iCal, Evernote and Dropbox, and explored the curious worlds of LinkedIn and Twitter. I finally understand what people who have office jobs mean when they speak of clearing work emails with a sigh.

But you get all that with any office job.

Specifically, I love working in an area where words and numbers matter as much as the science itself. I love making a case for or against papers at the dreaded meetings, which can go for hours like a lengthy medical ward round. Of particular interest to me is that pieces and viewpoints from younger doctors, who are not age-old academics, are not immediately dismissed without fair assessment for merit. Fortunately these endless journal clubs are so much more interesting than the sterile hospital equivalents where consultants expect only NEJM quality journals to be presented – which of course, have little scope for discussion that’s not already covered in the paper’s own discussion. Raw manuscripts include eyebrow-raising phrases from waiting for old doctors to “fall off the perch”, to using “losing one’s virginity” as a metaphor for attaining a health indicator.

Equally fun is reading all day long and having a pile of journals delivered to the desk each fortnight, so that I can read some more. From prominent international medical journals, to specialty college journals, to medical newspapers and more. Skim read, that is! Occasionally we sit with the production team to browse through pictures to match the articles, and wonder if anyone would actually notice, for example, if the generic theatre picture would do or if anyone is going to scrutinise the image and say hey, that’s not the right procedure! And too bad if you’re looking for anything on Indigenous health because medically relevant stock images mostly feature young, attractive, Caucasians (in white coats).

It was meant to be a short term stint to begin with, but this time of bliss is ending prematurely. Ah, love anything and sadness is bound to follow! I’m most saddened by the loss of a small community of colleagues who work together incredibly well and are excellent at what they do. To my disgust, I’m also seeing the very worst of the corporate world – of money trumping everything else, of those being in power being individuals who specialise in hopping from one company to another without any real affiliation for the people they deal with, of power plays and personal agendas being pushed, of deceit and outright lies delivered with utmost sincerity, of “PR” being a nicer term for controlling freedom of speech.

Making hard decisions and being pragmatic is one thing. Lacking integrity in intention and execution of these decision is another. I’m not quite prepared to know that the self-interested do indeed thrive in this world.

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches… But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. – Psalm 73:12, 16-17



  1. I read about that story and realised you may have been affected. I totally understand what you mean about the executives being company hoppers with no genuine investment in their organisation. They get such a large renumeration package regardless of performance, and since they’re at the top we can’t hold them to account without a full on coup of sorts.

    So with this journal derailing are you returning home sooner than planned?


    1. Did you see it in the news? Yeah exactly, one of the people involved was working at a similar capacity in reorganising a previous company (to put it mildly). And received a huge payment for their services.

      I’m not sure yet, but I will hang around here for my coursework things until at least June.


  2. that’s terrible.
    so is that it for mja with a proper office based in Australia.

    as for hospital journal club..
    often NEJM quality is not god enough. lol.


    1. How are you going? Changed rotations yet?

      Haha what sort have you been presenting? I thought it was so silly during hospital presentations that if you critiqued a paper well but it wasn’t a landmark study (even if it was a good study), it wasn’t good enough. As if it was your problem that the study had limitations (which one that has real and applicable data doesn’t?) So then my co-interns found the huge RCTs and made up cases to go with them. They were happy for a few weeks. Then complained that we always used certain types of articles (mostly from NEJM) and weren’t looking for papers based on real clinical questions and cases…


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