* * Anonymous Doc

Monday, August 16, 2010

Interesting comments on the previous post. Thanks for all of them. I do think it's hard to maintain the right perspective, and especially to remember that every patient is different, has a different understanding of their illness, and wants/needs explanation at different levels. I had a patient last week-- she comes in with her husband, and after some tests we see that the situation is not a good one. I start explaining things, in very simple terms, slowly and carefully. Then it happens to come up that she's a doctor herself-- it wasn't in the chart-- and it's like a complete 180. "Why didn't you say so?" "Oh, I didn't think of it." And then I really found myself completely changing the kinds of words I was using and the tone I was saying them in. She was following-- but her husband from that point on really wasn't. And he asked me to back up, and slow down. And I did. But just my whole mental process-- from "she's just a patient" to "she's a doctor, so I can use the medical words now"-- was interesting. I don't know what the lesson necessarily is, but I was surprised how different it felt to talk to "just a patient" vs. "a doctor." Because of course she shouldn't be "just" a patient. She's a patient. Period. They're all patients.

I don't know if any of that makes sense.

On a lighter note, I think one of the interns on my team took a secret vacation.

She had switched shifts so that she didn't have to work either day this weekend. On Friday, she said she had to leave at noon for a meeting with the program director.

Today, she texts me at seven in the morning saying she wasn't going to be in until 2:00 because she totally forgot about a required lecture she had to go to.

I wouldn't have thought anything of it, except she looked so different today than she did last week-- so relaxed, so calm, so tan. And maybe it was just the weekend, but you sit in the call room long enough staring at the sun that you never get to see that you can start to drive yourself nuts with theories. So I've decided she actually cut out early on Friday, flew to some tropical island, and the flight was delayed last night, she panicked, and had to send the text about the (fake) lecture so she wouldn't get in trouble.

I don't really care if she took a secret vacation-- I'm her supervisor, but I'm not her boss-- I just think it's crazy to imagine someone risking her job just for an extra half-day on each end of the weekend. She already had the two days off. If she'd asked, I would probably have let her out a couple hours early on Friday, and told her she could come in an hour late today. I hate to think I'm a monster resident that my interns would be afraid to talk to. And I don't think I am, so maybe she really did have a meeting and a lecture. It just seems too coincidental for them to bookend the weekend like that.

I think I'm just hallucinating from the lack of two-day weekends for the past six months, and the fact I still won't have one for another few months. At least I have one-day weekends. One is better than none.


  1. Really nice post. Re: the doctor, treat all your fellow doctors like patients when you see them. They have all the same fears, etc and in that place, you are the doctor, healer, counselor and friend they need. Way to go.

    Re: the sneaky holiday. Let it go and judge her by her work. We all need a day off.

    Thanks for the great blogs.

  2. About that holiday -
    Better start making mental notes on potential wedding gifts you might give her. ;)

    - KrisW

  3. Ask her about the lecture... her reaction will tell you.

  4. The thing about the educational system is that you get used to how the teacher is in charge, you have to follow rules, you have to sneak out for anything recreational, etc. I believe that most people still feel this when they begin their first job, especially if you're starting out as an intern.

    I have noticed this with my own interns as well. Explanations about how communication is important and that we work as a team to look out for each other - if there's something you don't know, ask, because that is better than the task not getting solved - if you need a timeout because your head is exploding, tell us, because that is better than your head exploding - that's not enough. There's also demonstrating it.

    It means giving a bit of yourself that is not professional. The rewards are plentiful.