I ran into one of the critical care fellows the other day. “I hear you’ve been stepping on my attending’s toes,” he told me.

I wasn’t sure what was coming next, and I really didn’t feel like apologizing for protecting my patients, so I answered cautiously: “It felt to me more like he was the one stepping on my toes.”

“Oh, he does that all the time. People hate it. When he’s not yelling at you, he’s playing turf wars.”

Seeing that this was a moaning session and not another episode in the turf wars, I told him my story, and he traded me an even worse one, seeing that it happened inside of the pulmonology service. He left me with the impression that the MICU inhabitants were quite pleased to have the surgery residents acting as surrogates in their quarrel with this attending.

So I won’t go out of my way for this attending in either direction: I’m not out to pick a quarrel, but I’m encouraged by this encounter not to stand for any territory grabs towards my service.