Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Warning: humblebrag post.

I've been lucky on my medicine service to have really grateful patients. You get so used to hearing the stories of the drug-addicted, narcotic seeking, alcoholic patients who threaten to leave AMA and can't wait to bust out of the hospital, but I've been lucky enough to have the mostly really kind, patient patients who take the time to know my name, ask me questions, always say thank you. Even the grumpy ones turn around in the end (One patient who would always give me one word answers in the two weeks I was following her, was sobbing when we discharged her because she was so happy that I rescued her daughter's picture from a fire!). It won't last, so I should just revel in this naivety for the time being, but I've also starting feeling like my patients have started thinking of me as "their doctor." Sometimes I don't bother to correct them when they refer to me as a doctor because to them, it doesn't really matter.

Today, I was so flattered when one of a patient's daughter's asked for me, by name, to talk to me about her father's condition. Another patient's daughter, of a 92 year old lady who was bleeding internally and had to receive 16 units of blood (she's stable now), always seeks me out to ask me about how her mother's doing and asks for my recommendations. She asks me questions like I'm her mother's doctor. In the beginning of the school year, I was also intimidated by a lot of the nurses, but now I'm much more comfortable talking to them and asking them to do things for me (get vitals, give meds, etc) and they update me and ask me questions about the patients too. As a medical student, it's not often (or sometimes never) you get to assume full responsibility for a patient, so it was just flattering to be recognized for it today, for the first time by having a family member want to talk to me. I'm on my way!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Black weekend

This past weekend was my "black weekend" on Internal Medicine, i.e. I had to work both Saturday and Sunday. This means by the next time I get a day off, I will have worked 10-12 hours days for 12 days straight. 12 days in a row doesn't sound too bad initially. But just not having ONE day to sleep in, take care of errands, go grocery shopping, go to the gym, or cook something, just kills you for the rest of the week. You work 5 days and then get a two day break. I work 12 days and I get one day off (this Saturday!!). I try not to complain too much, but this morning, after working the entire weekend, and having to admit 3 new patients this morning, running to wheel a patient down to do a stat MRI because she was acting funny and we were afraid she threw a septic embolus into her brain, and then launching straight into attending rounds made me want to go curl up in a ball and cry. To make things worse, there was a fire in the hospital this weekend.


To make things even worse, the patient's room was the room next to our Med I team room. Literally next door. And so when we showed up at 7 am Saturday morning, our entire floor was closed off and security officers weren't letting anyone onto the floor, not even the nurses or doctors that work there, so we were without our stethoscopes, pens, papers, white coats, everything that we needed to do our jobs in the morning. During a break in the morning, K and I actually snuck up to the floor through another stairwell, I ran into the room, and I grabbed all of our white coats, pens, and papers (all covered in ash) while he served as the decoy and distracted the security guard and then ran our belongings down to my team members. Pretty sure I trespassed on a crime scene, but I saved our white coats and stethoscopes! And so that was my secret agent moment of the day.

Since Saturday, we've basically been squatting in other teams' team rooms. It was easier on the weekend when not all of the teams were there, but today, all of the team rooms were occupied so we talk about all of our patients and go over their plans in a tiny back corridor/cubby area behind the nursing station for 2 hours. There weren't even enough stools for us so we literally sat on the floor. The cherry on top was that these past few days have been our busiest days when we've started on this service. We have upwards of 15 patients (we started off with 6), so we're frantically working on discharges, taking care of belligerent patients who won't leave, losing track of patients who just bounce without telling us, and generally stumbling bumbling tumbling traveling through. It's been a crazy 3 days. We also seem to be breaking some of our more stable patients. The hospital is a dangerous place, people. Every single morning, it seems like someone who we are ready to discharge catches a new bug (multidrug resistant, mmhmm) or decompensates overnight because we were too aggressive on their meds. Now that I've worked there, I wouldn't recommend staying in a hospital unless you absolutely need to, e.g. you were actually dying.

But I actually love it (if I weren't so tired all of the time)! In addition to being in charge of a patient's care when they're on the general medicine service (encompassing all different specialties, including GI, hematology/oncology, neuro, psych, pulmonary, surgery), you learn a lot about the logistics (some would say bureaucracies) of working in a hospital. It's all part of the job. After all of this, I would still be happy to go into Internal Medicine!