‘I am destined to be an Emergency Medicine Specialist’
Posted on 30 April 2018
Mediclinic Vergelegen emergency doctor Laurica Bailey explains why her profession is a vocation – and how she knew it was always what she wanted to be.
To be honest, I’ve never considered another profession. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. Every time school friends fell or hurt themselves, I always rushed to their aid. I spent a lot of time putting plasters on teddy bears and dolls too. And in Grade 1, I tried to give a drowning bird CPR.
The real turning point came when I was ten and my father was diagnosed with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and was admitted to hospital. This is a rare condition, when tumours, called gastrinomas, secrete large amounts of the hormone gastrin, which causes your stomach to produce too much acid.
I remember feeling very respectful and unafraid of the doctors and nursing staff when we visited my dad. They were so calm, efficient and knowledgeable. The behaviour sparked my curiosity in medicine and I began reading some of the medical books that my parents had at home.
Fast-forward eighteen years and I am now a doctor in the emergency centre of Mediclinic Vergelegen. I love the fact that every hour of every day is different. Feeling challenged – and constantly learning – is very important to me.
We recently treated someone who had been electrocuted where we could see the wounds caused by the electricity entering and exiting the body. While we were busy with treatment, the heart went into an abnormal rhythm and we had to use the defibrillator to correct the heart cycle. It was amazing to know the individual walked out of the emergency centre in good health. Not all cases have a happy ending though. X-Rays of a young patient treated after a car accident revealed multiple fractures of the cervical spine. This meant the person would never walk again – and when we said goodbye I knew the road ahead in rehabilitation and coming to terms with a disabling permanent injury would be a long one. Some days are really very hard.
We work long hours, and we miss many family functions and social engagements because of our shifts. It’s always difficult when we lose a patient – and although we cry in private, we need to be strong when we have to tell family members. It’s human nature to question whether, as a doctor, you could have done something differently. But that’s where our colleagues come in. We debrief and talk things through.
Of course, I rejoice every time I play a part in saving someone’s life or improving the outcome following a trauma. Being a doctor is definitely a calling.