A Doc's Life is a underground Medical Blog about some poor Singapore doctors. They are sibei sian and very buay song. Best practices not observed!
(Warning: Grammar is non existent in this blog. Those obsessively compulsive about good English please go no further and book an appointment to see your psychiatrist in Singapore.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Houseman Survivor Guide: Kopi Politics

Houseman Survivor Guide (Monkey Edition)
I. Introduction
II. Hospital Hierarchy
III. A Typical Day
IV. Painkillers
V. Meet The F*ckers
VI. Kopi Politics

Do understand that drinking coffee for a HO is not a leisurely activity. It is often a life saving measure. How to survive the rest of the day without a nice cool cup of kopi peng after a horrendous night call with no rest??!! Remember, post call (time off after night call) is a priviledge, NOT A RIGHT.

Kopi peng is the way to go. I will seriously not recommend hot coffee to any HO unless you want to burnt your throat gobbling down your cup-of-chino. No you still won't sound like Darth Vader after that, you idiot!

Notably, drinking coffee has become such an entrenched social activity amongst doctor that it has evolved into Politiks. This is akin to social smoking in other industries whereby if you don't go for smoking breaks with the Boss, you will be excluded from the boy's club. As most doctors do not smoke, or pretend not too, drinking kopi is our own version of social smoking. YEAH!

So dear HOs, please don't reject your senior's kind offer to go for a kopi break. In fact in some disciplines, it is mandatory to lim kopi after the morning rounds. These are times when your seniors actually have time to talk about your performance and as Asians generally do not criticise people in their face, the more you go for kopi, the less likely people will talk bad about you!

It is also tradition that the most senior doctors pay for the kopi while the most junior go pang kopi (carry the coffee). It is important that you know the different combi:

  1. Kopi orh kosong: no sugar no milk (for fat doctors on diet)
  2. Kopi: with milk with sugar (for fat doctors, how did you think they became fat in the first place?)
  3. Kopi Si: with evaporated milk (for fat doctors with no idea what they want)
  4. Kopi Peng: with ice (for fat doctors who otherwise will be perspiring away)
(NB: If you purchase a full copy of the HO survivor guide, Dr Og not only teach you how to carry coffee, I will also teach you how to carry ass! Order one today!)

Sometimes, our poor HOs don't even have time to get a decent cup of coffee. I once saw this poor chap (yes Rambo, I'm talking about you!) pouring a packet of 3 in 1 into his mouth after a busy night call!!! So sad hor..... like that waste coffee!


  1. xiaoming7:19 PM

    Sound like wat my cms will say after guard duty leh..


    btw.. doctor dun hav thin one ah? why all the example is fat one

  2. aust med student bf7:21 PM

    u really know how to carry balls!

  3. I thought Kopi is Coffee with condensed milk.... no sugar...and Kopi Si is evaporated milk with sugar

  4. Anonymous7:58 PM

    Definitely an SGH denizen.

  5. hello! i came to visit your blog once and i got hooked on to it already! it's really very interesting to read especially when i want to be a doctor too!

  6. yong loo lin school of medicine student10:32 PM

    Dr Og, where can i purchase your HO survivor guide with the free carry ass lessons? And what do people do if they are allergic to coffee?

  7. Anonymous10:39 PM

    coffee is bad for doctors esp as they often too busy to have a proper meal and having coffee on an empty stomach is bad

  8. Anonymous10:42 PM

    wow so dr blog is from sgh afterall. just curious, does your doctor friends or colleagues know you keep such a blog? in other words, they know that dr blog is you.

  9. wahahahah, dr bl og works in Sultan Aminah Hospital JB wor!

  10. Anonymous10:56 PM

    dr blog, u thin or fat?

  11. Anonymous10:57 PM

    bluff who. you too singaporean to work in jb lah.

  12. xiaoming11:06 PM

    u all dunno meh
    loctor every day morning 5 am ride on motor bike pass by cause way go JB work de

  13. your blog is sooo funny. really enjoy reading ur blog. it's my equivalent of "kopi break" (essential everyday). btw, your HO guide (actually only the carrying ass part) - applicable for other occupations?? Hahaha =P

  14. Anonymous11:04 AM

    haha.. nice entry since i dpend on caffeine to get meself goin2..i've this doctor fren who drinks up to 8 cups a day.

  15. Anonymous11:08 AM

    aiya...should've studied medicine.

  16. Anonymous1:23 PM

    wait till u see someone pouring fybogel powder into the mouth!that's nothing..

  17. Dr Oz bloke1:50 PM

    Hmm I remember as a medical HO in the old TTSH, there was no time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    I usually carried with me packets of instant milo or chyrsanthemum tea in my waist pouch. And if I felt really hypoglycemic, I'd tear one open and pour it into my mouth and eat it.

    And then if I pass by a water cooler I'd drink water later.

  18. When I was a houseman in SGH, we were told we were not assigned any call-room because we won't be sleeping when on-call.

  19. Anonymous3:06 PM

    hmm...btw, so wts the side effects of excessive caffeine intake?

    - kopi-gao-siew-dai Nut

  20. australian med student3:30 PM

    It may possibly lead to tachycardia, insomnia, heart palpitations. over-stimulation of the sympthetic nervous responses basically. But it does make you more alert and less sleepy obviously. nevertheless, you have to consume A LOT of coffee before that occurs.

    special hi to australian med student bf.

  21. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Ey doctor, mid autumn festival over liao, why ur head popping pal still holding lantern? can start to teach him to "soh-e" liao...

  22. Dr Oz bloke3:35 PM


    Actually the true story is that when they designed SGH, there were many many meetings with the senior consultants to decide what goes where and what rooms are allocated for tutorials etc.

    Then when the time came to move into SGH, they realised they had totally forgotten about call rooms for the junior staff. It just goes to show where the doctors rank in terms of priority in the administration's eyes.

    Another fact was that SGH was designed as a totally airconditioned hospital. However because of high oil prices during that time (no where near what they are now though), the C class wards were forced to be open air.

    If you go to wards 63 and 64 for example you will notice that there is no circulation of air if not for the numerous fans all over the ward! The architect was not an idiot to have the walls of big buildings right in front of the windows. The windows were not designed for air circulation in the first place!

  23. Dr Oz bloke3:37 PM

    Caffeine also increases gastric acid production.

    If you take excessive caffeine, be also prepared for peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease aka "gastric" and "heartburn" to the layman

  24. belladona7:08 PM

    Will taking excessive caffeine have a slimming effect?..there is a newest product Xand* with coffee i think.

  25. Dr Oz bloke8:08 PM

    Dear Belladona :

    Caffeine increases the level of circulating fatty acids. This has been shown to increase fat oxidation ie burn fat.

    It's particularly effective in those who are not habitual users of caffeine.

    Caffeine is not an appetite suppressant.

    The questionable rationale for its original inclusion in diet pills was to make a poor man's amphetamine-like preparation from the non-stimulant sympathomimetic phenylpropanolamine and the stimulant caffeine.

    The combination drugs were called "Dexatrim".

    However, caffeine has not been in OTC diet pills for many years per order of the FDA, which stated that there was no evidence of efficacy for its use in weight loss.

    Caffeine is known to be a diuretic. In most cases of reported weight loss in people taking caffeine supplements, it is due to a loss in body water secondary to caffeine's diuretic effects.

    That's probably how the coffee thingy with Xand* makes people think they lose weight.

  26. belladona10:26 PM

    dr oz bloke..thanks for the explanation..

  27. My favourite is kopiC siu tai (less sugar).

    But yes I really got gastric.

    Once went A&E at NUH (the best by far to me) because of it - I puked blood out along with my dinner.

    Anyway, coffee drinking, like smoking, supper, and other kopitiam behaviour, is a mark of Singaporean solidarity.

    Which is how cool!

  28. hiya Dr Og,

    Found you thruough someone else. super damn funny and very true. I've got doctor frens and I've seen my mum in ICU. wrt to ur prev blog entry on emotions, I truly believe doctors feel much for their patients, it's only whether they hide it or not. i salute you for the work you do and the emotional ride you have to go through everyday. not everyone can do as u do....

  29. thanks ang ku kueh!

  30. Anonymous1:06 AM

    Can anyone tell me how long one got to study to become a fully qualified doctor. thks.

  31. 5 long excrutiating years.
    Only to start your job as the lowest scum of the earth.
    But if you ask me would i do it again.

    I would.

  32. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Thanks Cranium, so after 5 years in med sch. then what's next - where do they start their working life - post to polyclinic, etc. Does your 5 years include housemen in hospital? etc, would like to know more - totally clueless.

    Admire your aspiration and dedication.

  33. kraxpot7:25 PM

    The 5 years in medical school count as your undergraduate studies. Of which 3 years are spent prowling the wards of the hospital learning about clinical conditions and their management. Only after 5 years (if you pass) would you be granted a provisional license to practise as a house officer/intern/houseman. This lasts for 1 year. If you don't screw this up, you are then let loose into the great wide world....to serve the government for another 5 years (as you are bonded if you studied in Singapore)

  34. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Kraxpot, thks for your detailed info, now i understand, but what abt studying in uk,wales - same no. of years and house officer/intern/hsemen done over there as well. When homecoming, then what's in store?

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  41. Anonymous2:42 PM

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