January 15, 2016

how many doctors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

For anyone who has been in the hospital, you know the drill. You see the doctor for maybe 5 minutes once a day. At an academic hospital, you get residents. And you're lying in bed wondering what in the hell is the doctor doing? And why hasn't he or she written that order for the new medication? What exactly is taking so long?

Just how many doctors does it take to take care of a patient? It takes 5 residents to care of 8-12 patients 24/7, 7 days a week. And these are highly complicated patients. Some of them are worthy of a Dr House episode. 

We sacrifice our families to take care of our patients. We live at the hospital. We lose sleep over the ones we are losing. We even dream about the patients as it is so all consuming. We go home and read about our patients to see if there is a new and better way to help them instead of sleeping. We are doing things far beyond what a doctor normally does. We are scheduling appointments for them when they get discharged so they don't get lost to follow up. Sometimes we see them ourselves in the clinic. We are on the phone with specialists or other hospitals. We are on the phone with the pharmacists and nurses. We walk miles during one day making rounds throughout the hospital. We age ourselves at least a year in just one month. And at the end of the month, we are left smiling and proud of the work we have done.  Believe it or not, there are doctors who truly care. I just had the privilege of spending a month (it felt like six months) working with them. 

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