Inhuman hours, overflowing emergency rooms, poor resources and little support – this is the daily reality of most doctors and nurses in South African public hospitals.
Maria Phalime was once a bright-eyed young medical student with high expectations of what life as a doctor would be like and how she would make a difference. But then she went out into the field. During her tenure at hospitals in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha she was overwhelmed by the conditions under which she had to work and the physical and psychological needs of her patients. Medical school had not prepared her for the ethical dilemmas she had to face.
Maria decided to change careers, but for many years reproached herself for this decision. As she goes in search of answers, she also speaks to other doctors who have left medicine. Her conversations with former doctors like comedian Riaad Moosa shed light on some of the major problems in the public health sector.
“This is my story and the stories of other doctors who chose to walk away,” she writes. “Ours is a private anguish filled with the niggling suspicion that we should have been stronger, more committed, more able to handle the daily realities of practicing medicine in South Africa.”
A gripping personal account which exposes not only the deficiencies in the public health sector but also the personal pressures and expectations which come with being a doctor in South Africa.
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