jackass moment

15 Jan

I just finished my first “sub-block” of my medicine clerkship.  I met with my attending on the last day to get feedback for the next block and to touch on areas where there’s plenty of room for improvement.  When she got to the area of “Professionalism” and “Patient Care,” she shook her head and said, “I honestly have nothing to add here.  If you can try to keep some of that humanity through residency and into your career, you will serve your patients well.”

The fact that she used the word humanity struck me, and I couldn’t help but look at her sheepishly and say, “I have to confess to something…”

No more than two days prior, my resident had sent me to have the “first crack” at a patient on whom we were asked to consult.  For me, it was challenging.  She had a very long history of chronic conditions and transplants, the last one complicated by an odd aberration (“odd aberration”…redundant?).  Essentially, one of her glands was so used to compensating for a failing organ that, when the organ was replaced, the gland kind of went haywire.  Anyway, I was sitting at the nurse’s station in a completely foreign area of the hospital, frantically pouring over this patient’s chart, which was several binders thick, when someone approached me: “How do I get to room 4xxx?”

I was so engrossed in the patient’s story-line, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  I looked up and said, “I’m not in this department.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them.  And then I heard a kind voice behind me, “How can I help you sir?”  Shit.  Not only was I a total ass, but I was an ass in front of one of my superiors (for lack of a better word).

A few minutes later, she lightly tapped me on the shoulder, “When you’re studying and working hard to become a physician, try to maintain your humanity.”

She was right, and this sent me into a tizzy over whether or not I’m only nice when people are watching.

So, after my attending patiently listened to my little confession, she kind of smiled and said, “Yeah…that’ll happen; it happens to the best of us.  Doesn’t change my opinion of you, but adorable that you felt compelled to tell me about it.”

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