So 2014 has come to an end – and before we begin our journey through 2015 in earnest, it’s traditional to reflect on the past year and think about what has happened and what we’ve learned.
Number one for me was:
“Don’t take on too much at once”
This is one of my biggest failures. The due date for my law degree dissertation was rapidly approaching, so I was working hard on that. Now, I work “week-on, week-off” nights (which means I get a week of days off to recover) and I was finding it difficult to keep track of where I was in the dissertation when I wasn’t touching it for a week at a time.
So, in trying to get as much done on it per day I’d spend the day reading, searching databases and scribbling notes. I’d play with the kids when they came home and then, when they went to bed, I’d sit down in front of the laptop and start typing. This was all well and good until I noticed the starting date for another degree course was a month before the deadline for my dissertation.
Fine, I thought, I can multitask: I can work on the dissertation most of the time, and then when a piece of work for the next project comes up, I’ll do that for a day, and then get back to the dissertation.
Nope. Didn’t work. I followed this plan and made a real mess of the first piece of work because I was restricting the time I spent on it (the new degree) due to the fact I was still working on the dissertation – so there was no way I could do my best… I restart later in the year!
Earlier in 2014 I started down the long road for a RCVS CertAVP by tackling Modules A and B. They are, at first look, a bit irrelevant to the task of getting more advanced in the subject(s) of your choice, but they are there for a reason – looking at work-life balance or work relationship issues is important, as is looking at learning styles.
Reading and watching the lectures supplied by the university made me pay attention to the way I think and learn, and that is having benefits even now, six months down the line. It’s not a revelation, but it has made me happier with my study.
Case-wise, the year has been pretty standard. Working in an emergency practice, feedback on case progression can be pretty sparse. Most colleagues don’t bother to let you know how cases get on, and when they do, it’s usually to blame you for something going wrong!
“Write everything you can remember down in some way”
Particularly when other colleagues (and practices) are involved, it’s easy for people to say “wasn’t me, guv” if something doesn’t go well. It’s easy to say “write everything down”, but much harder actually to do it – all too often you have multiple things you need to be getting on with as well as writing your notes!
Notes, recordings and photographs have all backed me up this year.
So to the year ahead… I’m waiting to hear if my law dissertation will be accepted or sent back for revision, and I’m on to the clinical phase of the RCVS CertAVP. I’m concentrating on doing one C-module in the next few months before seeing if I dare try multitasking again!
If possible, I’m hoping to leave the summer clear so that I can spend some time teaching my kids to ride their bikes in the park during the day and in the evening perhaps build Lego models and see if I can introduce them to a guilty pleasure of my own: computer games.
Not many people know this about me, but I was once ranked number one in the world at a particular game. It’s not something I advertise (until now) because when I achieved that I was at once giddily proud and ashamed.
Computer gaming is an industry comparable in size to Hollywood movies, and yet still carries a big social stigma. Yet in playing these games it’s a very social thing – playing in a team, with all the interpersonal politics and ego-management that that involves (particularly in the top-tiers) has armed me in many ways with experiences you can’t easily get otherwise.
In getting to the top tiers of anything – whether that be orthopaedic surgery, rugby, or Quake III – you need to be able to look in the mirror and be brutally honest with yourself so that you can tackle your flaws and become better.