Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mortality and Pancakes (Clinton St. Baking Company)

Pancakes with Crunchy Bananas, Cinnamon, Chili, and Chocolate Sauce

I am a solid four months into my clinical rotations, and I wish I could say that I've been busy saving lives and all, but in reality, I've just been residents' bitch for most of the time. Granted, I've had some really incredible learning experiences and have gotten to see some pretty cool things -- for instance, seeing a patient with hemineglect bisecting a stethoscope way off from the middle, and scrubbing in to see a salpingectomy for a case of ectopic pregnancy -- but I'd be lying if I didn't say that medical students are entirely superfluous and unessential for 95% of the time that we are in the hospital. Sure, it's nice to have us around, and sometimes, we can actually be useful, but let's be real: the hospital would get along just fine whether we are there or not. So if the work we are doing as medical students is so unimportant, then what is the point of us actually being in the hospital? Well, I think part of it is so that we become familiar with the idea of what it means to actually care for patients. Okay, that sounds kind of silly now that I've typed it out, because shouldn't we all have come into medical school with an inkling of how to care for others? Isn't that why we've decided to throw away the best years of our lives enter medical school? But really, for many of us, this is the first time in our lives that we are so involved with the care and management of other people's lives. Other people's health is (partly) in our hands, and even the most mundane of our tasks -- morning rounds, vital signs, etc. -- can make the difference between life or death. I had one patient who I rounded on one morning, and she told me about chest pain and shortness of breath, leading to me sounding the alarm for a rapid response team. It turns out that the symptoms were secondary to her not having had dialysis for several days, but this is the type of thing where even a lowly medical student like myself can have a huge impact.