I started my Psychiatry rotation yesterday and I’m here today, with lots of inspiration. That’s almost always a good thing, isn’t it? A posting that is so heart warming that it has inspired yet another blog post.
My day at work began at 8AM this morning with me going to the ward and updating the investigations charts of the patients that got admitted yesterday. We follow almost the same routine in every posting. After this, we were asked to attend the PG discussion class, which is that a certain PG discusses a patient’s case in front of all her colleagues and a panel of staff after which the session is open for questions. Pretty much how we had case discussions as undergraduates.
Following this, our unit, (that includes the unit chief, the other doctors, the three tiered post graduates and the interns), had a round table discussion of sorts to discuss each of the patients that we had admitted yesterday. This was unlike anything we’d done in any of the other rotations. And I was excited, obviously.
So this, I learnt in due course of time, is done for the benefit of everyone present at the table to get aquainted with the patient’s case. Because here in psychiatry, we cannot discuss all the information given to us by the patient’s relative in front of the patient. For the obvious reasons of course.
We had five new admissions yesterday. And each patient’s history, was discussed for 25 minutes in full detail. What his complaints were, how he is doing in terms of his interpersonal relationships, his work life and the sorts. Apparently there was a particular patient that was insisting on getting admitted yesterday, which was surprising because why would one want to get admitted in a psychiatric ward? Right?
So our unit chief kept prodding the pgs for tiny details about the patient and at one point our discussion reached a stage of how much property his wife had, and that he expected the doctors to tell his family to sell off the land in order for him to get better and he could have the money and start a new business. All these symptoms being a part of his benzodiazapine overdose.
Thats when I realized, there is so much effort and time and brain storming and dedication on a doctor’s part to try and understand all the complaints of the patient, co relate that to the examination findings and reach a correct diagnosis, just so we can give the patients the correct treatment. You could say but thats your job, and I would completely agree. I’d be thrilled in fact. And I’ll tell you why.
When I was 17, right before I got into med school, for lack of a doctor in our family, my parents would take me to the doctors we knew, our physician, my orthopedician and a few more and ask them if I was making the right choice. And everyone of them asked me only one question “Why do you want to be a doctor?”, to which my reply would be “Inorder to make a difference”, and every one of them would smile and nod their heads (as if to say that’s a typical teenager answer) and say “Just be absolutely certain before you get into this.”
I would leave the doctor’s cabin, my conviction only stronger. That was when I was 17. I am 22 now but the central dogma about making a difference is stronger than before. And when I am part of discussions that are of the type, lets start the patient on tablet xyz for abc symptoms, I don’t think for me it gets any better than that.
I’m sure the “elders” of the profession reading this are probably smirking at the naive little intern writing this, thinking “This girl doesn’t know the real world yet.” True. I don’t. But I think the world has endless possibilities in store for me, like any normal 22 year old at the prime of their youth would think.
So whats the problem? I’m also a little scared. Not little, quite a bit if I’m honest. Not at all because I doubt my capabilities. But because, in the real world, the patience of the people is wearing thin off late and they’ve started resorting to violence against us. With politicians making statements like “Policemen die in the line of duty, so why not doctors” the future of doctors in this country worries me.
Why should I put my life at risk and try to save another’s ? Is it even worth it?
You know, at the start of our internship the staff in our hospital told us, that up until now we read from books but now patients are our books, we have so much to learn from them.
And I realize the gravity of that statement now. We learn about drugs and how they work and against which bacteria they act from books, but the same drug acts differently in two different people. The body of two patients responds differently to the stress of the same surgery done. And so each patient is a different challenge for us to decode.
Sometimes even after doing everything right, the body gives up, for reasons unknown to us and you as patients or the patient party must understand that we did everything in our capacity to help. We need y’all to trust us because every single one of us involved in this health care system , is out there, giving up our personal lives, helping you or your loved get better and go back home.
Mind you, I am not complaining about the long hours, the sleepless nights or the irregular eating schedules we have. Not at all. Its part of the job we have signed up for. In fact, my co intern was once thrown out of the ot by a surgeon when he overheard him mumble that he was hungry.
We’ve all been in situations where a doctor was discussiong a case while we stood around him and after having stood for two hours straight he’d throw someone out of class if he saw them shift their weight from one foot to another. Rest assured, to deal with all this, is part of our job training.
All I’m asking is a little faith in us doctors. We are good people you know? Our small little community.
So in the spirit of world doctor’s day, my earnest request to all of you people who come to us ,either as the patient or his bystander, is this: to be a little more calm and mature in an emergency room. And trust that the doctor who comes to attend to you, will use all his knowledge and his skill only to help you. Besides, I refuse to wear a helmet at work.
We, the eternal optimists, the brand new doctors, with a bountiful of passion and less than 6 months to graduate have ample to offer.
The question is, will you let us?