Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy


Back To Basics

Tomorrow, I start being a doctor. I've had my MD for a couple weeks now - the stamped and signed diploma says so - but it's not until I see my first patient and introduce myself as Dr. Zac that it will feel real for me.

My first shift is an overnight in the Pediatrics Emergency Department, which is anxiety provoking. I rarely saw pediatric ED cases at my medical school, so it's pretty foreign to me. On top of which: it's children. People outside the medical field are scared enough of what it means if their child has a fever. Me? I'm terrified. Because now I'm supposed to know.

I think we don't give ourselves enough credit when the stakes are high. I'm sure I know more than I think I do - didn't go to 4 years of medical school for nothing - but the thoughts keep intruding.

What if an unstable asthmatic comes in and I don't know which drugs to order?

What if a kid comes in, confused and lethargic, and I don't know if he has meningitis?

What if a 6 year old swallowed a nail?

What if?

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  1. The answer to all your questions starts with “senior” and ends with “resident”. Wait, shit. Now that’s me. Thank god for attendings.

  2. Good luck don’t let your fear over come your knowledge.

    It was everyone’s first day once even parents :o)

  3. I think you’re lucky to be getting peds ED cases right off the bat since all of your work will be double checked by your superiors at this stage of the game. You’ll get plenty of experience before you’re expected to be fully competent. Then when the kids show up in your general ED you’ll be all over it, doc!

  4. Well…you look inquiringly at any available nurse… and offer an idea, see how they react. But take a deep breath first.

  5. You’ll do fine. Stop and breathe when you need to.

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