Nothing ever changes. All throughout med school, you think it'll be different when you're finally an M.D. You think becoming an M.D. is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and once you get there you'll finally feel like a professional, and maybe even be treated like one. But no, not yet. I got yelled at by the attending for going to the bathroom during rounds. We were in between patients, and I really had to go, so I raced off, went, and then caught up with the group as we were reaching the next room. The attending sees me sneak back in line, gives me a look, and asks me if I had somewhere more important to be. I said no, I had just quickly gone to use the restroom, and he makes an example out of me, says that I slowed down the rest of the group, that his time is valuable, and that I'm wasting it and should have the self-control to hold it in until we're done with rounds. Well, excuse me. Excuse me for drinking three cups of coffee just to stay awake, since we're working 14 hour shifts every day and I'm not getting enough sleep. Excuse me for staying late to make sure my charts are up to date, every night. Excuse me for wasting perhaps three seconds of the "valuable" time you're desperately wishing you could be using to go play golf. Yeah, I heard you talking about it as we finished up. "Only call if it's urgent," I heard you tell the chief resident. "I'll be golfing until 2." Awesome.
Even with the degree, even with the letters at the end of my name, I'm still just an indentured servant until residency is over. If the patients knew that decisions about their care were being made by people who apparently can't even be trusted to know when it's okay to use the bathroom, they'd question the whole system. It's hard not to question the system. It's hard to accept that patients are the guinea pigs while the second- and third-years test out their abilities to determine correct medication dosages rather than feeling comfortable enough to call the attending and ask, just to be sure. It's hard to accept that the system thinks exhausted students making decisions are better than rested ones. It's hard to accept that the system thinks there's some benefit to us working so many hours that we can't possibly have a life.
I'm never going to see my friends, for the next three years. I'm never going to see my family. I'm going to miss weddings, and birthdays. And for what? So at the end of three years I have no friends left and I'm entering a profession that it seems like everyone already in it wants to leave. "We're not clinicians, we're business people," is what you hear from everyone. From the editorial in yesterday's NY Times that I barely had a chance to read. A cardiologist, Sandeep Jauhar, moonlighting at a clinic in Queens. Why is he moonlighting? He's a cardiologist. How much money does he want? Maybe he's moonlighting because he doesn't know how to spend time with his family, he's been gone so much. Maybe it's a business to him because he just wants to maximize profits. I don't want or need to maximize profits. I went to medical school to help people and feel like I have a safety net-- to feel like I'm employable no matter what, and I have a real profession. But I don't need or want it to be the only thing in my life. I want to have friends, and hobbies, and time to just space out in front of the television. But we certainly don't get that in residency, and maybe not even afterwards. Being an intern sucks, being an adult sucks. Life sucks, sometimes.