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Going Under

Going Under is a really good read, but not for the faint hearted, or those about to undergo hospitalization. The uncomfortable truth is that it was written by a doctor who was doing her internship in a large hospital in Sydney. If it was a fictional story, regarding protocol, setting and processes it would be comfortable, but this is the way she found the journey.

While we hear about how hard it is for junior Doctors in training hospitals, working many hours without a break, the bullying and harassment they endure, Sonia Henry’s story shows the effect on the individual. This story is followed by statistics of suicide, depression and dropout rates of training doctors, which are appalling.

Having said that, Katarina is the main character in the story and is a lucky one. She has a group of friends she lives with, two of whom work in the hospital with her. They are hugely supportive of each other, loyal and caring. Despite the enormity of their problems, and the huge learning curve they face, they have a few drinks together and laughter becomes their outlet. The amount of alcohol they consume is rather awesome and the introduction of cocaine to the group is believable but again uncomfortable.

There are many humorous anecdotes that are quickly shared to keep the group morale going. One of the doctors spends a night in jail for driving under the influence, and he has to do a short safety course along with all the local folk. He tops the course and meets a few pals along the way. During down time which is rare, there are a few extreme behaviours and hilarious unwinding’s which bind the friends even closer together.

Mostly though, the story is set in the hospital and we follow Katarina on the wards, on her rounds and in theatre. The frustration of having a pager which is never quiet and always demanding, adds to the challenges which the interns face. When a child dies, no one is sure whether it is the procedure that killed him, or natural causes. This and issuing death certificates to bodies brought to the hospital would challenge the most level headed person.

This book has been written with a purpose, and that is to expose the unnecessary bullying, and hardships put before these interns. Steps are being taken to remedy the culture in teaching hospitals but judging from this story, there is still a long way to go.

Author Sonia Henry
Publisher Allen and Unwin
ISBN 9781760529574
Distributor Allen and Unwin
Released September 2019