The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “far more Liberian doctors are in the U.S. and other countries than in the country of their birth, and their absence is complicating efforts to curb what has become a global health crisis.”
I’m writing to ask you please to not do that thing.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s a Saturday morning, or the middle of the night on an overnight call, or whatever: it is a time of day that nobody wants to be working. And we are working. Maybe we are working on the same service, maybe I don’t know you from a bar of soap.
I am sitting in the doctors’ room writing notes for the latest patient that arrived in our care. You come in and sit next to me, looking for results on the computer or making notes for your own patient or maybe just drinking a coffee.
You see the design of my name badge so you know that if everything goes well, I will graduate by the end of the year and be one of your colleagues.
Then: you let out a long sigh and say loudly, “You know, it’s not too late to walk away and change your career.”
It is my last week of Internal Medicine, which means several tests, portfolios, and an OSCE. Gotta admit, Internal Med has been harder than usual this year, and I was shaking like a leaf before the exam began today. As you can see, I survived. It actually went reasonably well, so now I just have to worry about passing the written tests.
As you may recall, I was on Cardiology Week recently. Despite the hard work, it was really quite rewarding. We have a fantastic Cardiology Unit, and it shows.
Anyway, because our country has a smorgasbord of infectious and lifestyle diseases, the majority of what we dealt with was acute coronary syndromes. One day in the cath-lab, the cardiologist had to inflate the balloon to 16.0 bar before he could reperfuse an artery. To give you an idea how hard that is, you inflate your car’s tyres to 2.0-2.5 bar.
My school doesn’t allow students to be on duty for more than 24 hours at a time. The few times that a doctor has expected me to stay beyond 24 hours, I have always pointed out the rule and if they disregarded it, reported it. Because, seriously.
But for some reason, we have one week in Internal Medicine with Cardiology, where we are expected to work 36-hour shifts and somehow, despite many students having complained about it, it is allowed. This time I didn’t go on a “crusade” about it, because honestly I am just so tired of constantly being on a crusade.
It was a rough night on Internal Medicine call yesterday. Medical Emergencies was overflowing. At one point, we had thirty patients in the passage, because the beds were full. We had more patients requiring ventilation than we had ventilators. It was chaos.
Infectious Disease is interesting. In fact, I would wager that it forms at least part of the backbone leading to most medical students deciding to study medicine, regardless of whether or not they end up enjoying ID.
Seven Modern Plagues by Mark Jerome Walters investigates seven diseases causing havoc today. He looks at the circumstances that first brought them to us… and then illustrates how humanity has, in some way or another, influenced their massive growth. For example, the earliest known HIV case was in 1959, so how and why did it reach such large proportions in the 80s… and why do we still see new forms emerging?
Here is a little something different for Elective Extravaganza: what happens when you realise you chose the “wrong” thing for your elective? Aziza Aini (a fellow blogger, click on over) is a third year medical student in Malaysia who, during her second year, did an elective in Internal Medicine. Although she enjoyed it, she realised that she much preferred Emergency Medicine. So she innovatively did both.
Aziza’s story is also interesting because she attends a twinning program – essentially, her first two years of medical school is at one institution, and the last years are completed at a different institution. They do an elective in second year to assist with clinical skills development. I enjoyed her views because they remind me of the experiences our second years have when they get their first introduction to clinical medicine – the things they notice, and the things that make an impact on them. It is part of the reason I will always value introducing a student to hospital as early as possible.
Not literally, of course. But between her drug addict patients, sleepless nights on call, and battling wits with the sadistic yet charming Sexy Surgeon, Jane can’t imagine an afterlife much worse than her first month of medical internship at County Hospital.
The Devil Wears Scrubs by Freida McFadden follows Jane, an Internal Medicine Intern, for her first few months of Internship. She has all the jitters of a slightly inexperienced young doctor, a lot to learn, and a senior resident straight from hell. Jane must learn to navigate the halls of a new hospital, survive on next-to-no sleep and side-step her vicious roommate. Continue reading “Book Review: The Devil Wears Scrubs”→