Thursday, March 04, 2004

waiter = intern

I have this theory that I've been cultivating, and the theory is this. Being an intern on the wards is a lot like being a waiter. Consider:

* Many different customers/patients, all of whom think that they are your one and only duty in life. They want what they want and they want it now. Other tables to wait on/patients to take care of? Who? Wha? (Actually, from the medical standpoint, this probably holds more for the attendings and fellows that need to enlist your scut more than the patients themselves.)

* A thousand different things to keep track of at once. You definitely need a pad. And a system. You're on your way to do one thing for one table/patient, and you get summoned to do something else. "Could you bring us some more bread?"/"I think little Jimmy is bleeding from his ostomy site, could you come take a look?" Yeah, I'll be right with you. Wait, what was it that I was on my way to do again? Shit. Should have written it down.

* Pressure from above to clear tables/discharge patients. The intern version of bringing the check to the table before the customer asks for it is getting all the discharge papers ready the night before the patient is actually ready to go. We gotta move them out or the boss/chief will strangle me. The maitre d's list of parties waiting for a table is equivalent to the list in the ER of patients waiting for beds.

* Patients who are frequent fliers are the medical version of regular restauraunt customer who comes in and says, "I'll have the usual." Line infection again? I'll get the vanc for you, sir.

* Occasional free food.

Ways in which being a waiter is not like being an intern:

* Tips.

* Probably don't hear this too often: "Yeah, I'm working as an intern now, but what I really am is an actor."

* I doubt very many waiters go home and stay up all night worrying that they brought the customer the wrong kind of salad dressing, thereby killing the customer. (Or do they?)

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