We had a team dinner last night after work that I wish I had something to say about. See, it's not that the program doesn't try to forge social connections and give us all the chance to be friends-- we had orientation activities that were social, there are weekly happy hours, we're divided into "teams" that have occasional dinners like this one, there's going to be an overnight retreat in a few months-- but it's hard to force these things especially when the workplace itself is not that friendly day-to-day just because of the nature of the work. We all have different patients, we all spend most of our day either with those patients or in front of a computer entering orders and writing notes. The interaction with other interns is minimal-- sometimes there are two interns to a resident, in which case you're in the same call room as the other intern most of the day, but you're each working on your own things, and basically competing for your resident's attention (or competing to avoid your resident's attention, depending on the resident...), not really hanging out and getting to know each other. And it's tough to become too close to a resident, because he or she is your boss-- and that goes quadruple for an attending. We don't really have direct colleagues-- and even if you become friendly with someone on one cycle, two or four weeks later, you're both onto a different unit in the schedule and won't see each other for six months. The people I've found I become friendliest with during each schedule chunk are the ones I sign out to or sign in from-- the night float folks, when I'm on days, or the day team, when I was on nights. Because you're chatting for 10 minutes, twice a day, about the patients, and it's actually like a conversation. Then you go the rest of the day staring into patient charts and feeling stressed and on your own.
Anyway, the other piece of it-- which isn't the program's fault at all-- is that so many of us are at completely different life stages. It was sort of nice that of the ten people at this team dinner, five of us are single, and so we were there alone and had the chance to talk and get to know each other a little better. But even so, two of the five of us are more than a decade older than the rest, medicine is a second career, and they're single and 40-- which is a different place than single and 27. And of the other five, three are married and brought their spouses (none are doctors-- we hear about doctors marrying other doctors, and of course it happens, but what really seems to happen is doctors date other doctors, or doctors marry and divorce other doctors, because the number of actual doctor-doctor marriages in the hospital, at least among the resident and fellow population, is much smaller than it first seems-- although maybe a lot of them meet down the road as attendings or in private practice, because there do seem to be a fair number of attending-attending marriages), one brought her boyfriend (a resident on another team), and one was on like a first date-- she (rightly) claimed she has no time to date, so when a thing like this came about, she figured she'd invite a guy she'd been e-mailing on Match.com for weeks to come along. Which of course was awkward and weird-- the rest of us know each other or at least know the spouse we came with, and then there's this guy who doesn't even know his own date, and we're in someone's house having dinner, and the host (an attending) is worried this guy is going to steal things, and the joke was that he was some psych patient she picked up on the ward-- which maybe he was.
The spouses didn't have jobs that sounded more interesting than this one, they all seemed to wish they were doctors (they shouldn't), but, hey, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Am doing nothing with my two-day weekend-- it's so soon after my lazy vacation that I almost don't feel entitled to be lazy again, but what else can I do. I'm invited to an intern's place to watch some Pro Bowl football thing-- I don't like football but I'll probably go anyway.