It takes a certain level of masochism to go into medicine. Something in your mind has to actually say that yes, I do think that getting the shit beat out of me on a regular basis sounds like a way to spend my life. Never in all my life have a felt stupider than when I'm taking care of patients. What's the patient's UA show? How do you explain this uric acid level? What are we doing for her renal failure? What medications do we have him on for blood pressure? What has her white count been doing for the past week?
I think that the great advantage attendings have over us lowly interns is that they can cherry pick. They can take aim at us from high above and we really have no recourse. It's wholly their right, since they take the heat if shit starts flying, but it certainly doesn't do much for the ego when your attending shoots a string of questions at you and the only one you can answer is that yes, she has been afebrile for the past 24 hours.
But it balances in ways. My senior has a habit of saying that I did a good job with this or that, and it's unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable how much I appreciate that. It's nice to have someone say, hey, good job, I think that's the right thing to do. One of my seniors questioned an order I wrote. I told him that the on call senior told me to do it and he laughed. He said to me that he knew it wasn't me. I was too smart to do something that dumb. I'm glad that others have such confidence in me, and I'm starting to think that I need to have some confidence in myself as well.
I'd love to talk to pre-meds in college. I'd love to tell them that this glorious career of medicine, it's not what they think. It's work, tough work. It's as blue collar as you can get for six figure salary. It's not noble. It's not honorable. It's work. And if that's your flavor then more power to you, but if I wanted to get some respect, I think that there are better ways.
I think the one beautiful thing about medicine is that despite what other people do to you, no matter how much the system beats you up and down, you can feel good about yourself if you can go home and say that you helped someone. You know, it's not often that you can go home, sip a beer, eat a pizza, and think to yourself that you made the last few hours of someone's life as pleasant and pain-free as medically possible.
A patient looked at me today and asked me what I would do in her shoes. I didn't have an answer. She wanted one but I didn't have one. What would I do? I dunno. Would I fight? Would I give up? I don't know. And sometimes, just knowing that this decision that she's been fighting with is a tough one, that's comforting to know. And so I can go home and sip on a beer and think that in spite of how lousy today was, I did okay.