Probably the person that I feel most sorry for, over the last month, is the neurosurgery intern. At my hospital, the neurosurgery intern belongs to general surgery for eleven months, and then in June, the mother ship comes for him and he gets swallowed up by the neurosurgery program (which, since it has twice as many attendings as residents, and all very busy, does indeed literally swallow up the residents). He’s doing q2 or q3 call now, and can be found in the hospital, running between the ICU and the ER, at basically any time of day or night, any day of the week. He will be doing this for at least the next year, as the junior-est of the neurosurgery residents gets worked to death by the attendings, and by the rest of the residents who regard it as their turn to stop taking q2 call. He looks about ten years older, already, than he did last July, and I think greyish-yellow comes close to describing the color of his face. Actually he’s amazingly cheerful about it, which I guess is the only practicable response.

I shouldn’t feel sorry for him, really, because he chose this, knowing what he was getting into. In fact, he claims this program is nice to its residents, compared to some others. I tell him I don’t even want to imagine the others, in that case.

For an intern, having graduated from medical school at the same time as me, he knows an amazing amount about neurosurgery. He must be truly in love with it. I, and even my senior residents, respect his opinion when we talk to him about trauma patients (which is good, because half the time he’s the only neurosurgery representative easily available). That, I’m still trying to figure out. He is so extraordinarily good that, as an intern, he can give a recommendation to the senior trauma residents, and have it followed with respect. That’s not just because he represents neurosurgery. He earns that respect, by living in the hospital, studying incessantly, having made several remarkable correct calls, and having saved more than a few lives already. I’ve caught the neurosurgery attendings actually listening attentively when he tells them about a patient, which is also a rarity, and a high mark of respect. (Usually they don’t even listen to their own residents till they’re four or five years in.)

(Oh look, there’s blood scattered all over my scrubs. I wonder where that came from. I guess that solves the question of whether to take a shower now or later.)