We had our semi-regular breakfast lecture this morning-- one of the residents gives a talk to all of the interns about a recent patient issue, things we should keep in mind when a patient presents with a certain set of symptoms.... It's pretty standard stuff, sometimes the talks are interesting, sometimes they're less interesting, and either way we get free bagels.
My point isn't about the talk though. I get there and sit down, and sitting next to me is an intern I've gotten to know a little bit, he's on night float this cycle, so he's working overnight six nights a week... but I remembered talking to him the other day, and he said he was off Tuesday night into Wednesday. Which means he didn't need to be in the hospital this morning. Which means he didn't need to be at this lecture (they're useful enough, but it's not like they're some important thing-- we're not expected to show up if we're off, and a lot of people skip them even when they're not).
"What are you doing here?" I asked. "I thought you had the night off."
"I did. But I figured I'd come in anyway, free breakfast and everything."
"You're here six nights a week-- and the one day you're off, you come in just for fun?"
"I was awake anyway."
"And this is what you felt like doing?"
See, this is why I'm never going to be the perfect intern, and I'm never going to be the perfect doctor. I know I've complained before that I don't have nearly enough going on in my life, and don't always have a lot lined up on my days off-- but there's no way I would ever be choosing to come into the hospital if I don't have to be here. There's no way I would spend my day off at morning lecture. I would rather be in my apartment staring at the wall than in the hospital on my day off. I would rather go take a drive aimlessly around a random suburb, mindlessly killing time, than come into the hospital on my day off and go to a lecture. And if I did somehow find myself here on a day off, due to some pathetic circumstance where I desperately needed a free breakfast and all the stores in the world were closed and I had no ingredients at home with which to make anything at all-- then there's no way I would admit that I was here on my day off. I'd at least make up a story about switching days off, or getting called in for an emergency, or needing to meet with someone about something, or working on research, or leaving my beeper in my locker, or ANYTHING to avoid having to admit that I have so little going on in my life that I would choose to voluntarily come in on the one day off I have in a week, to eat a stale bagel and listen to a resident talk about thrush.
It's not even like this is a social activity. I can see maybe coming in if this was something where you get to talk to other people, where you can pretend you have friends and have some social interaction. But it's a lecture. The minute at the beginning when you sit down and the minute at the end before everyone runs back to their patients is all you get. This is not a fun event. It's not torture, but it's not something anyone should choose to attend if they don't have to.
Except maybe everyone else thinks it's fun. Maybe everyone else gets something out of this that I don't. Maybe everyone else is more interested, more committed, better at this than I am. I'm doing my job, I'm doing okay at it. But it's a job, it's not a passion, it's not a calling. Maybe medicine in the general sense is-- I haven't totally lost what drove me here to begin with-- but intern year, working on the hospital floors, doing the scut-work, writing patient notes, supervising med students-- this is a job, no more and no less. And on my day off, I don't want to be here.