Tuesday, April 26, 2005


So not only was it a complete ghost town in the Peds ER today, we were also completely overstaffed, with three Peds residents, an ER resident, two "fast track" attendings, and two precepting attendings all working at the same time during the afternoon. All this manpower, and hardly any patients. So the decision was made that instead of us all sitting around picking our butts, at least someone should have an early day. And somehow the decision was made (probably because I'm working the late shift tomorrow) that the person who should get to go home early this afternoon was me.

Initially, I protested. "No, come on, I'm not going home early!" Again, the group insisted. "You're kidding, right?" No, not kidding. Just go. "I can't leave!" Sure you can, there's not even any patients here to see--just go. And the thoughts that were running through my head were as follows:

Really? Leave two hours before my shift ends? Awesome!

But then will people think I'm a slacker? Will they think I don't work hard?

Why should it be me that goes home early? Why not one of the other residents? Is this just because I'm pregnant? I don't want special treatment! Should I say no?

Will they think I'm not a good doctor if I take them up on their offer? Will they think I'm not dedicated? Not tough? Is this a trick?

Then I realized what I was doing. I was doing the EXACT THING that I tell all of my medical students not to do. In short: if someone tells you to go home at some point during a rotation and you want to go home, JUST ACCEPT THE OFFER. It's not a trick. It's not a trap. It's not a test to separate out the Honors students from the High Pass students. Just go home and don't overthink it.

I WAS DOING THE MEDICAL STUDENT THING, hemming and hawing and making excuses about why I should stay around for no reason, while everyone else was trying to convince me to go home early! HAVE I LEARNED NOTHING IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS?

But I guess I have, because I did end up leaving early in the end. The fact that the doctors were outnumbering the patients by three to one was a little ridiculous, I guess. But my conscience is still gnawing at me a bit. Maybe I should find a nice organized religion to channel all this guilt towards.

Currently reading: "The Working Poor." Almost done with this one. Also reading the article about patient simulations in medical education in this week's New Yorker. Some institutions must really have some fancy simulation models. The one we had in med school wasn't nearly as sophisticated as the ones described. In fact, it was a little surprising how un-sophisticated it was, given how much it cost the school (a price tag of which they reminded us over and over again to impress upon us how we were not supposed to bring food or drink anywhere near the scary, pulsating rubber mannequin).

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