* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm not really sure why I decided to start a blog about residency. Already I'm worried it's bound to become a broken record. The hours are long, we're locked in the hospital like prisoners, it's completely impossible to have any semblance of a life.... Repeat daily. I thought today, finally, we would get out at a reasonable time. We're allowed to sign out at 5:00 when we're not on late call to do the handoff to the night team. And you'd think if I could get all my notes done and push myself to finish up, there'd be at least one day this week I could get out at 5. Or 5:30. Or 6. But it doesn't work that way. We're at the mercy of whenever the attending happens to decide he wants to come back for afternoon rounds, and if he shows up at 5:15, well, then I'm here until 7:30 again. I know it's not fair to feel this way, and that of course the attending has patients he's seeing during the day and isn't showing up late for rounds simply to keep the interns there for an extra two hours, but it's the lack of any interest in moving things along that starts to get frustrating after twelve hours in the hospital. He gets there in the morning at 9:30, bright and well-rested, while we've already been there for two and a half hours. Then he goes home, takes a nap perhaps, sees a few patients in his office, and waltzes back in at 5:15 as if it's morning again and it's fine to drag us through two and a half more hours of rounds, stopping to instruct on the finer points of how to help the patients aim the TV at a better angle to the bed and other such thrilling, vital information. Fine if it's 11AM and we have to be there anyway. But when it's 7:15 and I could be eating dinner, or on the couch, or somehow having a semblance of a life.... I wanted to go to the gym once this week, that's all. Once. If I was getting out at 6, I could go. But at 7:45, I'm starving, and once I get home and eat I just want to go to sleep. I'm not going go to the gym at 9:00 when I need to be up before 6 the next morning. Just once. Not every night, not even every other night, but once. One day, let me out. One day, let me feel like a normal person with a normal job. One day.

I was originally inspired to start this blog because of the other medical blogs I'd been finding myself drawn to during medical school. Panda Bear, MD, who somehow has the energy to form actual smart opinions about health care and the broader issues of being a doctor while still slogging through this life. Kevin, MD, who's probably a better source for medical news and commentary than pretty much anything else out there. GruntDoc, and all sorts of others I don't have the energy to look in my Google Reader to remember.

Doing this every day is making me realize how hard this is-- a lot of days as a doctor are just not that interesting. I never thought that would be the case-- I wanted to be a doctor in part because every day is different-- but especially this first month, where I'm on a very specific service, all the patients have pretty much the same problems and are getting pretty much the same treatment, and to do this for any real amount of time seems like torture. That's part of why I'm drawn to primary care-- but at the same time, rationally I know that primary care's only marginally better in these terms. Most of my patients are going to have one of a very small set of complaints. And after not much time, I'm going to know exactly how to analyze those complaints and the treatment options. And while that's great for my patients, because I'll be less likely to miss things and make mistakes, selfishly it's not as good for the doctor, because it will get dull. But if being a doctor is dull... what hope is there for anyone, in any profession? Argh. I hate when I start thinking this way. I hate when I start wondering if anyone's job is really worth having, if there's any way to feel fulfilled in this world, if anybody's really happy or they're just deluding themselves, or too stupid to know better. I don't mean too stupid. I don't know what I mean. I knew this wasn't a guaranteed ticket to happiness. And I know I can't rely on the job to do it all for me, to solve all my issues. But at least I hoped it would help.

This is probably just the lack of sleep talking. I'm going to bed. 9:00, I'm going to bed. I have to. My body is telling me I have to.

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