Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Suddenly Doctor

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It’s funny how jarring the “sudden” transition from medical student to Doctor feels, because it’s not sudden at all. It’s 12 + 4 + 4 years of school, at least, in the making. Exam after exam, rotation after rotation. And then you graduate, and next thing you know people are calling you Doctor, and you not only have responsibility, but you can actually make decisions. As a first year resident, fresh out of medical school, I still had a lot of supervision, but there were also a lot of things I could decide to do without asking someone else about it. There’s a little bit of thrill with that first order you write without telling your senior resident or attending what you’re about to do.

I’m still growing into the role of Doctor. It fits. It’s me. But sometimes it feels a bit stiff, too formal. When I hear the nurses talking to a patient in the background and saying, “The doctor said ____,” there’s a voice in my head that giggles at the acknowledgement that “the doctor” is me. While I will usually introduce myself to my patients as “Dr Aba,” to other medical staff I lead with “I’m Aba, the psychiatry resident.”

Unlike many of my co-residents, I am comfortable with my specialty, even with strangers. Other psychiatry residents, when asked what they do, will say simply that they are doctors. I did in the beginning, when I had not yet done any psychiatry rotations. Now? I’m a psychiatrist. Maybe someday the response will be negative enough that I will reconsider and supply the ambiguous “Doctor,” but so far I’ve enjoyed the surprise, and the opportunity to educate (often in the form of explaining the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists). Yes, I went to medical school. Yes, I do therapy. Actually, electric shock therapy is a very safe and effective treatment for depression.

I’m on call right now. Home call, which is a blessing and a curse. On a good night, I get paged only when I’m incidentally awake, and I get to stay at home all night. Some nights I get to stay at home, but I get paged every few hours to write or fix an order, or to talk to the nurses about a situation with a patient. And other nights, I get called in, stay a few hours then go home, or decide the odds I’ll have to come back are too great so I sleep in a call room instead. Not knowing what my night is going to be like is, as to be expected, quite anxiety provoking. Will the pager go off? When it goes off, why am I being called? After I’ve made my decision, was it the right choice? Will the patient finally calm down? Were those vital signs really nothing to worry about? Some people run many of their decisions by the Attending on call; I tend to only call for the situations I have to call about (new consults, patients who want to leave Against Medical Advice, etc), but I am comforted by the knowledge that should I ever feel out of my league, backup is a quick phone call away. Someday, it’ll just be me, but I’ve got time before that final safety net is gone.

Written by Aba

December 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Residency

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