Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day One

What a week. Who knew the jump from being a medical student to a resident could be so big? My first day was Wednesday. I donned my long white coat and headed out the door at 4:30am to begin my rotation on GYN Oncology. I started pre-rounding on my patients, collecting vitals, lab results, fluid ins and outs – nothing I hadn’t done before as a medical student. After rounds, when the attending physician, fellow, and resident headed down to the OR, is when the terror began. All of a sudden my pager goes into overdrive with calls from the nurses. “Patient A is complaining of pain – what do you want to write for her? Patient B is tachycardic, what do you want to do? Patient C has drainage from her incision site, can you come take a look at it?” And as I stand at the patient’s bedside, a nurse and two nurse assistants eagerly await my response. I look down at the patient. And yes, I see a stapled incision down her abdomen. Draining pinkish fluid. Crap. Now what?!? As their eyes burn holes into the back of my head, I think to myself, “Man, I wish my last surgery rotation wasn’t 10 months ago…” Trying to use my brain was like trying to pedal the wheels on a very rusty bicycle. It just didn’t…want…to…work…
“Would you like me to place a pressure dressing doctor?” The clouds parted and the light of heaven shone down on me that moment. “Why yes, nurse! Yes, I would!”

As a brand spanking new intern, that’s the moment you realize that:
1. You are no longer a med student.
2. You are calling the shots.
3. You have no idea what you are doing.

Can you say PANIC?!?

Many times, my non-medical friends ask me if life in the hospital is really like what they have seen on T.V. Their idea of practicing medicine is composed of the life-saving heroism on ER, the incestuous romance of Grey’s Anatomy, and the intellectual masturbation of House. I am here to say that it is all baloney. If you really want to know what residency is like, the show to watch is Scrubs. And my present life resembles Season 1. The intern that doesn’t know what she’s doing. The nurses who go through this every June and graciously fill me in on the many things I don’t know. (“Doctor, I think you want to write for Morphine 2mg every 4 hours for her breakthrough pain, right?”) The senior physicians who expect you to know it all already (or at least pretend to).

Somehow, I think all of us medical students have the idea that when we start residency, our brains will somehow already be filled with the basic information necessary to take care of patients. Ha! If only it was that easy, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. My initial reaction to your first day blog is as follows:

    1. Stapled incision draining pink fluid? Gross! Yuck! Puke! I am getting squimish just thinking of it. I can't take that at all. I would need to be a type of doctor that does not deal with gross stuff or the human body. Kind of like Doctor Phil, but I can't grow a full moustache and I still want to wear the white coat.

    2. Your blog needs to focus more attention on nurses. And not the type of attention that details their level of helpfulness, knowledge base or competency level. BO-RING! Your blog needs to detail their level of attractiveness. Now, now; I know that your feminist roots and level of professionalism prevent you from delving into the level of explicit detail I would prefer, but I think that we can agree on the following descriptions for a rating system:

    a. I need my morphine drip increased to be with her;
    b. I would let her give me a spounge bath if my friends never find out;
    c. Yes please, she could put a catheter in me anyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

    3. I am glad that you gave me another reason to watch Scrubs. Did you know that although last season was supposed to end the show, they are going to do a ninth season where Doctor Cox and Turk teach at Med School?

    4. Please send me a blank prescription pad. STAT!

    5. Good to great job on your blog. Enjoyed it immensly. Miss you.