There's one doctor at my hospital who might be seen as a rock star within medicine. No one outside of medicine has any reason to have ever heard of him, but at least within the hospital, he is indisputably the most famous person we have.
He's on the wards for a week every year. I don't know if it's part of his contract, or he likes to pretend he still sees patients, or what the deal is, but 51 weeks a year, he's giving talks or writing books or traveling around the world or whatever else he does, and one week a year, he's actually being a doctor.
Somehow, I won the lottery and I'm the fellow assigned to the ward he's on last week. At first, super excited, since any face time with this guy is surely a good thing, right?
And then he asked me to go in and close the shades in the patient's room before he walked in, because he preferred to deliver bad news in dim light. "The aesthetics are better."
"And when you're rounding in the morning, give the patients a heads-up that I'll be their doctor this week. I want to give them a chance to get used to the idea, so they're not distracted when I come in."
"I don't think the patients necessarily know who you are."
"Don't be stupid, of course they do."
Is it bad that I spent all week hoping he would make a terrible mistake? Not that I wanted anything bad to happen to a patient, but just something a little bad, to make him realize that maybe it wasn't just about him.
"I want to draw that patient's blood. I think it looks better if I do it."
"Phlebotomy is right outside, I can just get them."
"No, I want it to seem like I really care."
"I can get phlebotomy, it's fine."
"No, I'm going to draw her blood."
Seven (painful) sticks later, we got phlebotomy.
"She has bad veins."
"Maybe you're just out of practice."
"I don't think so. And, like we talked about, I'd really like you to get in right at 5 tomorrow. I don't know when interns became so lazy."
"I'm a fellow. And I've been trying to get in as early as I can, but if you're not getting here until 9:30, I'm not sure why I need to be in at 5..."
"I just want everything to be ready, so I'm not wasting my time."
"It's only been taking me 45 minutes to pre-round..."
"But I want everything perfect. It shouldn't be my job to have to wake up a sleeping patient."
"Sometimes they fall asleep."
"Well, if they're asleep, they're not ready for me to see them."
His knowledge is actually great, which is the most frustrating part. He knows what he's doing, he's up to date despite not actually practicing, he somehow makes the patients feel like he cares, and he remembers everything anyone says to him.
It's just hard to appreciate that when he changes his white coat every time a patient even breathes near it, and he's ducking out of a rapid response to take a call from a magazine writing an article about best vacation spots for doctors, or whatever it is he spent twenty minutes being interviewed about while he was supposed to be running a code on a patient six feet away.
Is it that I'm jealous, or is it that we worked together for a week and then I passed him in the hall this morning-- he's giving a talk to the medical students on how to eat a healthy lunch, or something else super-critical to patient care-- and he didn't even recognize me?