Tiger trails, where tourists tour through Indian jungles in the hopes of seeing real-life tigers may seem like a great idea, but be warned.
After several days on an uncomfortable, mosquito-infested coach, the closest you’ll come to seeing any actual tigers is when a guy at the back, in the midst of a food fever dream, thinks that he maybe possibly saw orange in the undergrowth.
So, the coach waits for another half-hour. You hope in vain that there is genuinely something in the obscured shrubbery. There isn’t – nobody sees tigers on tiger trails, and I can tell you, medical students cannot help but empathise when shadowing a Consultiger.
What is a consultant doctor? You’ve got to be kitten me…
Found, or rather unfound, throughout the Healthcare Habitat, Consultigers are elusive. Imagine when med students attend the first day of placement and arrive at the location where their Consultiger is scheduled to be, only to discover that the individual is on annual leave, or is attending a conference on the other side of the country. As you can guess, this makes shadowing difficult.
You may be lucky enough for a glimpse of the Consultiger on day 1 of your shadowing placement. However, absence on days two, three and so on, will force you to doubt whether this mysterious medic exists at all.
Is this some elaborate joke by medic-in-command? Or is this some Fight Club scenario, and (spoilers – but the film came out in 1999 so really you should know by now) the Consultiger is your Tyler Durden, a hallucinatory manifestation of your rebellious psyche?
How to purrfectly make the most of your placement
The best bet for maximising the quality of placements with Consultigers is through early and persistent communication with both the individual and their ecosystem. Though elusive, even a Consultiger cannot evade e-mail – the seeker missile of communications.
If you know through communications that the Consultiger is away on leave, then adjust your plans accordingly. Try to minimise time spent awkwardly waiting for the Consultiger to arrive.
Furthermore, if the Consultiger is made aware that they have been assigned a student like yourself but they know that they will not be there, they can arrange alternative activities.
Shadowing Consultigers can be frustrating, but there is no malicious intent in the species’ absences. Pragmatic and early communication with Consultigers can help transform a potentially inconsistent and irritating placement into one of great benefit to your education. Just pray that the Consultiger checks their e-mail – if they don’t, it will be a looooooonnngggg placement.