Sorry for the shortage of posts. Night float doesn’t leave a lot of energy for talking.
Last year I was in awe of the junior residents on call. So much responsibility, and they handled it so coolly. Sometimes I saw the stress, but they covered it pretty well. I wanted to be like them.
And here I am now; I don’t think I’m as cool as they were. In fact, I can see it, when there are senior residents around at night for other things; they look at me out of the corner of their eye. I’m not doing anything exactly wrong, not wrong enough to be stopped; but I’m more excited/nervous/antsy about all of this than the guys ever let on. (I’m upset that my patients get sick, become permanently handicapped, die, and I can’t stop it; I don’t know how not to be nervous with these things at stake.)
There is one resident who to me is the epitome of a good doctor: he’s very serious, smart, thinks everything through, and is always willing to put in extra hours to make sure that things get done right. I remember him, on night float, staying hours late in the morning to make sure everything was settled. This morning, I was pleased to be able to do the same thing. A patient came in right before everyone’s shift change, seriously ill. Several different surgical services needed to coordinate to get him in the OR. Although everyone agreed that he needed surgery urgently, it was a little more tricky to decide what exactly was wrong with him, or what precise procedure we could do to fix it, or which surgery team ought to start the proceedings. I’m not sure how much I actually contributed; but my attending was the one making the most concerned statements about not losing time; so I stayed, and called the OR to encourage them that even though I couldn’t quite tell them who the surgeons would be or what the exact title of the procedure would be, they needed to get a room and provide certain equipment. And then I stayed with the patient, as other people had to come and go, and got him up to the OR, and explained his problems to anesthesia. (My commitment to patient care did not quite cause me to scrub in; they would have let me, but an unworthy desire to sleep overcame my passion for knowledge. . . or something like that.) It wasn’t a big deal, but I was satisfied that even though I’m not yet as cool and collected as the guys I admired last year, I can go the extra mile too.
And as they say, nobody’s died on my shift. . . so far. So I guess all the other problems are small in comparison to that accomplishment. I must be doing a couple things right.