Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trolling for a trauma

The popular show Grey's Anatomy follows the lives of a set of surgical residents through their medical training at a fictitious Seattle hospital. Running frantic lives, they often end up treating medicine like a game, fighting tooth-and-nail for the chance to score the next big trauma. While such an aloof attitude seems somewhat morbid, one can only assume that these characters are driven by the desire to observe, learn, experience, and ultimately become skilled physicians.

Yesterday, I described some of my more profound thoughts on my observership at a local area hospital. Today, I return with some less philosophical details. While the program details specified four-hour observerships, the actual hospital ran eight-hour shifts. After making arrangements directly with the coordinator for that hospital, I was under the impression that I would be attending for the entire shift.

The first place I was shown was the trauma room. It contained about four beds, and could accommodate two more as well as an X-ray machine. When needed, a trauma team could be assembled from a wide variety of specialities including surgery, anaesthesiology, etc. The physician indicated that it was quite possible that this room might be used later, with things like car accidents in the afternoon and gunshot wounds in the evening. This actually had me quite excited, as it would be my first time seeing medicine in such frantic action or a patient with such an urgent medical need. Please don't get the wrong impression: I was not hoping in any way for someone to get shot so that I could observe a trauma - but, large traumas do occur, and if it was going to occur, I would very much liked to have been there to observe the activity. These particular thoughts are what reminded me of Grey's and the surgical residents sticking up their hands in a "Me! Me! Pick me!" manner in order to be assigned to a big surgery.

As it turned out, the shift was pretty slow. So much so, that the physician I was observing found himself flipping back and forth between his own area and helping out in another. Most patients presented in hospital for pain from a variety of causes, and from a medical standpoint, these cases were generally quite simple. Though being the medical neophyte that I am, I still learned lots standing around and watching.

At about ten minutes and three hours into my shift, another student unexpectedly showed up to observe. The physician was also surprised, but indicated that if another student was here, then probably it meant that I was supposed to go: "Four hours, four hours, right?" It made sense to me, though I was slightly irked that the coordinator had not made this clear, so I accepted the fact and was on my way.

The turnover occurred so quickly that I didn't really have time to think about it. I looked at my watch and realized I had only been there for a little over three hours. If the other student had been told to come after the third hour, then she was late (which was specifically frowned upon in the observership instructions). If she had been told to come after the fourth hour, then she was almost an hour early, which was equally frustrating when I thought about the bite that had been taken out of my own observership.

Still, at least this meant I got to eat supper. But honestly, I bet the minute I left there was a big trauma. Murphy's Law.

1 comment:

sandlot said...

Do you think that surgeons wear Depends diapers during long hours of surgeries?