Yesterday I had to go down to the emergency room with my resident for an internal medicine consult. Chest pain. Or so we thought. Her daughter arrives, in a panic, looking for her mother... they talk in a foreign language for a few minutes... ankle pain. She has ankle pain, not chest pain. She stumbled through English well enough to convince the triage folks that a translator wasn't necessary, and somehow she ended up being understood as a chest pain patient. Oops. Chest pain? Admit. Ankle pain? You go home.
I am surprised at how much fun it is to have med students around, more confused than I am, making me feel like I'm a genius, or at least that I'm a doctor. Hey, after five months I know things! I know the abbreviations people use! I know what's probably serious and what's probably not! I know when to call a rapid response! I sent one of the med students an e-mail with a link to an article about a condition one of the patients has, I told him to read it and then he can tell the resident about it, impress her, make her think he knows something, since she's the one evaluating him. I think he appreciated it. I remember being a med student. I remember wishing someone would help me out like that. So I'm trying to be a good intern and help them feel not so lost. It helps that it's a slow week, not too many patients. Low stress level.
I can't actually tell if the lowered stress level is because of the actual work-- fewer patients, easier stuff going on with them, just by chance, could change any minute-- or it's because I'm actually starting to figure out what I'm doing and getting comfortable. It's probably some of each. And I think perhaps the third piece of it is that I'm getting to know some of the other interns and making friends. It's harder than I expected it would be to make friends. Not because of anything about the people, but just because there is no communal downtime. Everyone is on a different rotation, in a different part of the hospital or even a different hospital, and we never actually have a chance to get to know each other. In med school you have classes, you have lunch, you have extracurricular activities. At a "normal" job you have downtime, people chat, people get to know each other. But here it's so busy and you're often so isolated in the call room, just dealing with your resident, and maybe one other intern, that it's hard to actually have a conversation with someone.
Not to mention there isn't a lot of "not at work" time that people have in common and can make plans. My day off might not be your day off, my early night is probably your on-call night, you're on days and I'm on nights... so even if I wanted to make plans with someone, it's almost impossible. But bit by bit the five minute conversations add up. The guy on night float who I have to sign out my patients to, and then get them back in the morning-- we talk for a couple minutes, I know where he's from, what he wants to do, we chat about the patients... slowly, we're becoming friends. The other interns on the floor, we see each other when a patient is coding or during a rapid response-- you know, it's not the most opportune time to get to know someone, but little by little.... And so I can sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel. That after a year, after two, after three, I'll know some of these people pretty well, I'll have some friends, I won't be completely alone here, sad, frustrated, depressed. Or at least that's the hope.
Off Saturday, working Sunday. Hopefully out early enough tonight to feel like it's a full day off tomorrow and not just a break between two shifts. Hopefully.