How To Be A Rubbish House Officer

(Disclaimer: Any similarities of names/behaviour to actual characters, real or imagined, is purely coincidental}

These might sound like obvious facts to the hardworking batch of YLL SoM year 5 students, the first bunch of whom have finished their student internship program with the MBBS looming in the background (though still a very far away background), but indeed, are important facts to be rehashed over and over again ad nausem.

A few days back there was a thank you lunch to the good staff of the department and one cheerfully friendly consultant sat with the house officers to give them an informal talk on life as a house officer in his day. He reassured us that it takes a special quality of house officer (i.e. really the pits, rock bottom, completely useless, irresponsible with deep character flaws) to fail housemanship. Unfortunately for him, during his time as a houseman, there was one such character he was working with.

So here we go. References to any potential fellow HOs in the department is once again purely coincidental.

  1. Be arrogant
  2. Think overly highly of yourself. Boast about your education when refusing to do things for nurses, “I have had 5 years of medical training. What do you have?” Talk highly about your nationality, “I am from le République de Maurice. I do not have to sign blood results.”

  3. Be lazier than a sloth
  4. Remember to get in your afternoon nap from 1-4pm (working hours usually from 7am-5.30pm) while your unfortunate HO colleagues, unable to contact you, do your work for you. To reward them for their kindness, refuse to do anything for patients under their care and demand that people help you with patients under your care.

  5. Be irresponsible
  6. Patient with recent diabetic ketoacidosis with a capillary blood glucose of 18.7 mmol/L? Yawn. Let’s watch that. Patient on antiplatelets, wound currently oozing like crazy? Insignificant. A colleague on their way out at 7.30pm call you regarding ECG changes for a patient? Nah, hardly important. Sure, it’s night call and you’re the only house officer in the ward, but those unimportant things can’t compare to sitting on the bed in your call room, slowly eating dinner and watching TV/texting on the phone, whatever.

  7. Be MIA
  8. So you’re born in the wrong era, because your ninja-skills are simply ‘l33t’. No one can find you when you do not wish to be found, especially during those pesky ward round periods. Or during periods when these strange things called ‘changes’ need to be done.

Well, yes, there’re some overlaps in the categories listed above. Yes, it’s a little short for a to-do list of how to be a rubbish house officer. Please do not worry.

Rest assured that should you master the few points above, you too can be a rubbish house officer.

Over and out,


It’s been over a year since the post and guess what? J. has had to undergo a painful posting with someone who might resemble the quintessental Rubbish House Officer in the same surgical team. Rubbish then subsequently become a medical officer at the same time as J. and went to a different surgical rotation where, rumours have it, is still as rubbish as ever.

Seems like Rubbish House Officers become Rubbish Medical Officers.


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