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.