I've seen a few examples of this in the last week and what with it being interview time, and me being in a contemplative mood again I thought I'd share. There are people that 'do' and 'can' when the situation calls for it, and there are people who 'can't' and 'don't' and I'm not sure you can really tell which category you fall into until the situation occurs and you are tested. To put this into context, last week I watched Junior Doctors on BBC3 and it mentioned frozen doctor syndrome where the new F1's freeze and don't know what to do when faced with situations that require quick thinking and fast actions. This is probably because of any number of very valid reasons - they don't want to be in the way, they don't know where things are, they haven't dealt with such an intense real life situation before or they are scared of getting something wrong. A few weeks ago, one of my housemates tore a ligament in his ankle jumping off something. The swelling hasn't really gone down and he was making do with strapping it and sort of keeping off it, but he's quite an active person and so has been going to the gym to do upper body work. Whilst at the gym with our other housemate he met a load of medics and they were skipping (as you do, apparently). For whatever reason, he thought he'd skip too to show off, and of course went straight over on his ankle and collapsed on the floor. The medics all stood around staring at my friend screaming in pain on the floor. One of them managed to mutter RICE, but by that time our other housemate had gotten some ice and a blanket and a bench and was coming back to pick our friend off the floor and ice his ankle. Both of my housemates do sport science, so whilst he was an idiot to try and be a hard man and skip in the first place, I'm proud of their quick thinking, and wonder whether the medics were kicking themselves for not thinking to do that themselves. I guess slightly on their side is the fact that they weren't in a setting they would be expected to use their skills and knowledge, but I think I'd still be a little embarrassed. Even though we know nothing, we are perceived to be knowledgeable and capable, and RICE is kinda first aid basics, no?
I have been tested myself in the past, though thankfully not often and nothing too bad. Back at Southampton my mentee had an epileptic fit on my driveway, sustaining a nasty head wound as he dropped. Then earlier this week I had a knock on my door at 2 in the morning from my house mate, blind drunk, terrified and vomiting blood. I'm happy to say that I appear to be a person who can and does, although inside I'm terrified and I have no idea where the strength and calm I display in the outside comes from. At least so far, with the situations I have been presented with, I am.
I think it's a difficult skill to interview for, because it's not about what you say, it's about what you do. I have visions of one of the interviews going into pretend anaphylactic shock or something to see how the candidate reacts. As if interviews weren't terrifying enough. I'm sure that not all Dr's require these sorts of skills in their line of work, and that the more you are involved in situations like that the better you'll be at handling them, but it must be useful to be a person that 'can' and 'does' from the outset. It gives you a base to work from and build in the actual knowledge of what to do to be useful.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs...you'll be a Man my son!
If by Rudyard Kipling