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Working as a junior doctor is a time when you need support and mentorship to guide you through the transition from medical school to state hospital. It’s a time when you may need assistance with a clinical query before undertaking a procedure, or you may need to talk through a proposed treatment plan before commencing treatment for an unusual case.

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Often, though, this support is just not available. You may find yourself working in an under-funded, overcrowded rural hospital. It might not be the shiny world of medicine you imagined in medical school. But whatever the conditions, your professional duty remains the same: you must not endanger your patients or work outside the limits of your competency. ‘Working without supervision’ offers some advice on practising safely in difficult circumstances – though there are no easy answers.

Dr Lynelle Govender takes an honest look at the average day of the average intern, and suggests some survival tips for avoiding stress and burnout.

On a brighter note, once the stressful intern years are over, it’s time to consider your options. Following on from our previous edition’s feature, ‘You’re hired’, on how to remain one step ahead of the competition, Professor JP van Niekerk provides some expert advice on how to choose a specialty.

With 30 specialties and 18 subspecialties now recognised by the HPCSA, it pays to start thinking about the different options available to you sooner rather than later. For those of you interested in specialising in family medicine, Professor Julia Blitz offers an illuminating insight.

As ever, do let us know your feedback on this issue – we welcome all comments and suggestions. If you’d like to write for us, or have a feature idea, please get in touch.

Dr Graham Howarth
Editor-in-chief, MPS Head of Medical Services (Africa)

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