Working life: Dr Valerie Tsang, paediatrics

Today I’m on 24-hour call, which means I can’t leave the hospital during that time.

I meet the junior doctor on call for the previous 24 hours. She updates me on overnight admissions, what needs to be done and hands over the cardiac arrest pager.


I accompany the consultant, registrar (senior doctor) and nurse on a ward round. We usually see between four and seven patients. We talk to parents about how their child fared overnight and draw up an action plan for the day. Then it’s time to fit IV cannulas, order scans, and do blood tests.


I assess a child in the emergency department (ED). It’s a toddler, very dehydrated after four days of vomiting and diarrhoea. I admit him by taking a history from the mother and examining him thoroughly before inserting an IV cannula.

The mother is quite worried but our experienced paediatric nurse comforts her. In the meantime, a teen arrives with swollen glands and a very sore throat. I take bloods and send him home, promising to ring his mother with the results.


Lunch break lasts approximately three minutes because I’m called back to the ED. After assessing two toddlers I return to the ward to write up some medications.


I’m called back to the ED to tend to a child with asthma. I then snatch 20 minutes for dinner and head back to the ward to review the patients we’ve admitted so far, with the registrar and nurses. I ring the mum of the teenage boy with his test results.


The test results of a patient we admitted is concerning. It appears his immune system is not functioning properly. The registrar and I tell his parents about the results, which may be serious, and that we’ll need to do more investigations to look into the cause. The registrar discusses the case with the consultant paediatrician and hematologist on call. I head back to ED to see a few more patients.


I finally get to lie down after seeing the last patient in ED. I’m bleeped again at 8am to admit two children for MRI brain scans. I explain to the parents what’s involved.


I meet the doctor who is taking over from me and give her a handover after an exhausting but very rewarding 24 hours.

* Dr Valerie Tsang, junior doctor general paediatrics, Mercy University Hospital (MUH)


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