Working at clinic is starting to get interesting.
The goal, as we progress through residency, is that we'll end up with a bunch of patients we follow for the three years, as their primary doctor. The appointments don't always work out-- if they have urgent needs, it's likely I won't be the one who sees them, because I only do an afternoon or two per week in each clinic I'm assigned to. But for ongoing checkups and maintenance appointments, they try to schedule the patients to see me if they can. So now there are about a dozen people I've seen two or three times, and they think of me as their real doctor.
And I'm starting to realize why being someone's doctor can be completely frustrating.
"You said last time you wanted to quit smoking, we put together a plan, and-- you haven't even taken the first step."
"Have you been watching what you eat? Because we came up with some ways to modify your diet, and it doesn't seem like you've taken any action--"
"Did you ever even fill the prescription I gave you last month?"
"You've canceled four appointments in a row. Why has it been so difficult for you to come see me?"
and so on.
I understand the practical difficulties-- people have to miss work to come see the doctor, transportation can be an issue, etc-- but it's hard to feel like you're making a difference if nothing gets acted upon, nothing gets followed up. You spend an hour counseling a patient on how to reduce her cholesterol, she writes down a plan... and then comes back two months later and acts as if the conversation never happened. We're not hall monitors. There's a limit to what we can make someone do.
There's a patient who I usually use the translator phone with, but the Wolof translator (have you ever heard of this language? I hadn't.) seemed to be out to lunch, because the phone just kept ringing and ringing. So we tried to muddle through in English. All I know is that there's something wrong with something in the general area of his stomach. Maybe.