One of the most exciting phone calls I received this year was from a past MBA student of mine, a qualified anaesthetist, who had decided to return to work in public health after working in the business world for ten years. He had decided that working as an anaesthetist would more personally satisfying than being a well paid commercial executive in the pharmaceutical industry.

On the 1st of September this year, he returned to work in a large government hospital. I spoke to him after his first day and asked how it was. He had not worked as an anaesthetist for ten years, and so he imagined that he would be inducted slowly. However, he was assigned to paediatric cardiac surgery as an “observer” to an experienced anesthetist. His first patient was a 9kg baby who underwent a 4 hour open heart surgery. The second patient was 6 weeks old and only weighed 2.2kg. She also underwent cardiac surgery. Although there were other anesthetists in adjoining theatres, my ex-student was left on his own at times during each operation to manage the patients. He was understandably terrified and rattled by this but fortunately the anaesthetics and surgeries were uneventful and both patients were fine.

I am sure there are constraints and reasons why this situation happened. I am not sure if there is a solution for it though. All I am hoping is that the very system that desperately needs people like this, does not succeed in alienating him sufficiently that he loses heart and leaves again.