Friday, March 15, 2013

Oh Medicine, how I love to hate you.

This has been a difficult past 8 months for me, psychologically. I can't even begin to describe in what ways because medicine is like an alternate dimension; you can't fully understand it unless you're in the midst of it. There have been times where I wanted to quit, a couple times where I thought I would, but yet I am still here. The reason: I love being a doctor and I love serving patients. Embedded in all the mindless tradition and frustrating peculiarities of my job is the joy I experience when I am able to sit down with a patient and hear their story.

What makes me most upset about medicine is that it is still a business. I'm not even talking about the health insurance part of it. (As a resident I am spared from that monstrosity.) I'm distraught by the fact that I cannot spend the time to talk to patients, get to know them, assess their physical health, provide education, and offer recommendations if I have 4 to see in an hour and must give everyone equal opportunity to speak with me. In medicine, if you spend too much time on tasks, you become a bother to your colleagues and can even be reprimanded for exceeding duty hours. (first year residents cannot work >16 hour shifts or >80 hrs/wk.) I won't even dive into that topic. I understand that I need to be challenged to become more efficient, but patient care should not be the entity to suffer. I constantly hear that patients don't ever see their doctor in the hospital; they feel neglected, they feel out-of-the-loop. Understandably so! If I make it in to spend a total 15 min. face-to-face with each of my patients each day, I feel like a freaking rockstar.

Revelation #1: If health professionals communicated better with patients, there would be far fewer malpractice claims and much healthier doctor-patient relationships.

I believe that most residents, if we had more time, would be better communicators. You really can't fault us if we would rather go home after a 16 hour shift than catch up with the latest on our patients. After, all we are only human. Does that mean I disregard patients that need my attention at the end of my shift; absolutely not. Does it mean that I put off hearing about my patient's BMs until the next morning; yes it does.

Revelation #2: Most people don't know that residencies are funded by Medicare. Crazy, huh? Guess that explains why I work my tail off for a paycheck that is half of that of my husband.

I hope to be doing more blogging the coming weeks as my schedule is lighter and I start my vacation next week! Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!