Dr M graduated from Ain Shams Medical School in February 2023. She spent her younger years in the UK and eventually moved to Qatar – her home for the past fifteen years. Fresh out of high school, she came to Egypt to pursue her medical studies, leaving her family behind for the very first time.
Fast-forward to six years of medical school, the end was finally in sight. It was a long-awaited moment. “I could hardly believe it, I was counting down the days. It came as a shock to my system that I was finally done”. Dr M traveled back to her family in Qatar and spent much-needed time catching up.
However, the joys of graduation were temporary, as Dr M was now faced with the reality of post-graduate life. She found herself missing her busy routine and full schedule. “I had an exam every other week or month and now I had no set deadlines”.
Dr M also missed the early morning adrenaline rush; waking up to an alarm and running to take her attendance. I spent many days on Facetime calls with Dr M, as she paced around her room. I could tell she was missing her friends and her life here in Egypt.
A month later, the internship was due to start. Dr M had to make a choice – whether she would come back to Egypt and start her internship or stay and apply for the internship in Qatar. In Egypt, her internship would cost another six thousand dollars. In Qatar, she would not be getting paid. It was not an easy decision to make, but Dr M decided to start her internship at Demerdash Hospitals, cognizant of her colleagues’ experiences.
Start of Internship
“I started my first rotation in Immunology, not knowing where to go and being sent around to different people. Eventually, I found the resident in charge of my group, and straight away, I was given 3 blood samples to hand to the lab and told to take bloods from a patient in a different ward. I was baffled. It took me ten minutes to find the ward and I had hoped they would show me around as it was my first day”.
“I don’t know how to take blood either”, said a nurse who Dr M had asked for help. Eventually, she took the blood and Dr M spent the rest of her day sending samples to the labs and taking vital signs. One patient needed an ascitic tap and Dr M was sent between the ER and Radiology, several times, as doctors argued about the correct paperwork. “It felt good to be interacting with patients, but I wasn’t really learning much. I was basically the middleman for doctors and all these different departments”.
Dr M was exhausted by the end of the second day, running around with paperwork and averaging 33 thousand steps a day. On her third day, Dr M was given her fourth request that morning and was told to hand in some papers to the lab. However, the lab was not open, but the resident still insisted Dr M try to hand the papers in. “It felt like she was fighting the system through me, but the lab would not budge”.
Three Day Trial
A friend of Dr M, who was a new resident tagged along for some of these jobs. She was surprised to see how they were treated as the new interns. Dr M found herself under immense pressure, as the patients were at the mercy of interns operating as messengers.
“Nothing was explained to us, we felt like robots sent around with multiple jobs, non-stop, all day. We were sent with important paperwork, that at times would take hours to be completed. I felt helpless, as I was unable to speed up the process for patients.”
The Final Decision
“On my third and last day, I sat out in the sun for over 30 minutes, waiting for a paper that was in a locked room. I contemplated what I was doing here and how helpless I felt as a doctor. My friends who were interning abroad often told me how they were learning about the cases they saw and actually ‘saving lives'”.
Drowning in her own thoughts, Dr M opened Whatsapp to see her resident typing. She felt another request incoming. She quickly typed up her resignation message and let the resident know she could no longer continue with her shift. It was not the resident’s fault that the system worked this way, but Dr M struggled to be a part of it. Dr M sent her farewell wishes and left the hospital for the last time.
Between Qatar and Egypt
A week later, Dr M traveled back and decided to apply for her internship in Qatar. She spent her days exploring Doha and living a few weeks of peaceful graduate life, now with a clear plan in mind. Once again, she found herself missing the hustle and bustle of Cairo and the studying environments she was familiar with.
Dr M has since returned to Cairo and is now preparing for her IELTS and IFOM exams. She hopes to become a Paediatrician in Qatar. She dreams of traveling the world one day and returning to her homeland to give back to her people.