Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Teaching Rounds 101.

So what have I learned about the First week of rotating in the hospital as a Third Year Medical Student?

I've learned that Interns and Residents will want to do anything to keep the hierarchy and thus will occasionally act as your superior to remind you that even though you're just as old, and maybe even slightly more informed about a particular disease or another, they can still get you in trouble if they feel like it.
On the other hand, they can just as well be extra nice and invite you over to their On Call Room when on duty, an offer you should politely decline if you don't want to end up standing awkwardly in the farthest spot you can find, giving a talk about your critically ill patient while the resident is laying on the bed, and you poor helpless medical student, you keep imagining him playing with his toes while trying desperately to withhold hysterical and uncomfortable bouts of laughter.

I've learned that you never know who your Patient will turn out to be. And even though you should treat all of them equally and professionally, you will eventually find out that you should not be using a systematic approach, and not only because of that oath of empathy and sympathy that you pledged (and earned a pin for doing so), but because they might turn out to be enriching to your social and communal network of interesting people you stumbled upon.

I've learned that Nurses seem to be doing all the work and having the most exposure with the patient, so you'd better stay on their good side. That is of course besides the fact that they know the ins and outs of the hospital, along with when and where free food is served. They will also keep your belongings safe, especially in a hospital where not even a private locker is provided to you, regardless of the hefty tuition you're coughing up.

I've learned that the Attendings are, up until today June 23 2009 at 8.17 pm, the friendliest in the food chain and the most accessible. I document this impression thoroughly and with the utmost precision, because I have a feeling this finding might change in days to come. Nevertheless, attending physicians seem to be seeking medical students to bestow upon them all the knowledge they have acquired and some extra rewards like freshly picked berries, (thank you Dr. WGF).

I've learned that in the Operating Room, anything goes. I have yet to witness the urban legends about physicians throwing scalpels at students and residents, but I have already heard them shouting for no particular reason and making sure everyone in the room understands that they are the Kings of the castle, the Lords of the domain, the Alpha and the Omega, although they will be all smiles and winks once out of their scrub suit. So if you have a beef with your resident and you're desperately seeking revenge, follow them to the Operating Room, you can be sure they will get yelled at, at least once, even if their performance is fairly appropriate, it never seems to fail.

I've learned that the constantly lauded and stressed upon Ethical Behavior seldom leaves the classroom. And the lower your rank the more conscientous you are. I will not generalize, but Yes, physicians disclose full medical and social histories in crowded elevators, with names and family members mentioned. Yes, they mistreat OutPatient Department patients (as opposed to private ones). Yes, they will keep the patient for an extra day or two in the hospital if insurance covers their stay. Yes, they will fail to adequately scrub in risking nosocomial infections during an operation. Yes, the most famous ones are the ones who might be a pure source of revenue for the hospital rather than diligent physicians. Yes, some deaths can and should be avoided especially with infection control.

I've learned that I love medicine. I love clinical practice. Heck, I even love surgical procedures although I was very skeptical about the latter to start with, seeing how I hated the Anatomy course, and my surgery summer elective in Barcelona. (Which might be explained by the lack of proper communication, since for some weird reason, Catalans have taken it upon themselves to refuse to master proper English).

I've learned that your most potent tool is People Skills, People Skills, People Skills. Whether you are communicating with the resident, the intern, the attending or the patient.

I've learned that the best communication should be among your group members to keep a unified front and a consensus regarding sharing tasks and responsibilities.

I've learned that I have yet to Learn, that this is only the Beginning, so Here's to Medical School and to a successful Medical Career. Chin Chin and Salute.