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A Day In The Life Of A Vhi SwiftCare Doctor

Dr Anell Louwrens is a South African medical professional living and working in Ireland. Here she talks about her typical day and getting that work-life balance right in a high-stress profession…

I was working in London when I started coming over to Ireland. It was the friendly Irish hospitality that kept me here! At SwiftCare, we don’t really do a lot of normal days. It keeps it interesting. 

It’s an urgent care centre so you never know what’s going to come through the door. The good thing is there’s always support around. You’re never alone on the floor. 

Sometimes it’s sore throats, ear aches… lots of sports injuries. We get some interesting ones! People will never cease to surprise you. 

Most of the time I really, really enjoy working with people. But you do get challenging ones. 

PREPARING FOR ANYTHING

It comes with the training we get in medical school. We don’t think about it that much. It’s our job and part of our daily life. So I don’t really do much to “get ready”. 

Just get enough sleep so you’re as bright and sharp as you possibly can be for the day ahead to make good decisions and treat people as best you can.

CHANGEABLE HOURS

I’ve always been a night owl, so mornings are not my strongest! When you start in the afternoon, if you’re extremely busy you might get out of there at 11.30pm. It’s hard to maintain a normal sleeping pattern. 

If it’s an early start, I try to eat breakfast. It’s very much on the go, but usually some sort of cereal. If I have enough time, I might try to make an egg and toast.

I don’t know how balanced my diet is but… I like to cook, luckily! If I’m working evenings, I try to bring something nutritious with me for my main meal. 

RECHARGING

We do have break times set aside, where you relax, switch off. Then go back a little bit more rejuvenated hopefully.

That’s what they always say to you – if someone comes in at 10 in the morning or 10 in the evening, they still need to get the same treatment. So you can’t slack off and “take it easy.”

I very much value my private time. I like to bake… and I love travelling. I was once a doctor on a cruise ship so I think the travel bug bit me and will probably never leave!

SWITCHING OFF

Are doctors poor at self-care? Oh yes, we are terrible! It has been a global trend where we’ve realised that there’s quite a high rate of mental health issues amongst doctors. We’re trying to shed global light on the issue. People should start to speak up more. If there’s a problem, don’t just say “it’s part of the profession.”

WELLBEING ADVICE

Sometimes it’s just taking a walk outside and getting some fresh air. I used to do a lot of yoga – I actually went and bought a new yoga mat this afternoon!

MISCONCEPTIONS

Some people get into medicine and think it’s a very glamorous job. It is not, I can assure you that! There’s no glamour in squeezing out anything from any orifice – even if you’re on a cruise ship!

People expect us to be lead an exemplary lifestyle. But we’re all people. We struggle with our own problems and deal with them the best we can.

Read more from the Vhi Health Hub by clicking here.