The Adventures of Medical Internship
WEEK ONE: BLS, ACLS, LMNOP…
This is it! I’m a real doctor! A REAL DOCTOR.
The program I’m part of provides housing (FREE housing) so hubby and I moved in this past weekend. The apartment buildings are old and a little decrepit, but they’re clean for the most part, and ya know, it’s free. But moving from a full kitchen to one the size of a box has proved complicated and I’m still trying to figure out where I want everything. Otherwise, the apartment is fairly big and just right for us and we’re settled in (for the most part). My furry children adjusted fine and they’re already cruising through the place like they own it.
Monday was the first day of orientation and we got to know the staff and our co-interns. Everyone is awesome here and they come from all over the world. Two of my classmates are in the program with me (both prelims as well), so it’s nice to have familiar faces. The other interns are friendly and sociable (most of them are categorical residents—they plan to go into internal medicine (IM) and will have a three year residency), and our Chief Residents (basically fourth year IM residents and our bosses) are really chill. The chairman of the department invited us over to his house for a big welcome party and we had a great time.
The chairman was actually my senior attending for a week when I rotated in the MICU and he has an interesting personality. I don’t want to say he’s condescending, cause he’s not, but he has this way of looking at you that makes you feel small and uncomfortable. I immediately thought he disliked me (and even more so when I corrected him about jugular venous waveforms after rounds one day), but apparently, everyone feels this way about him. He’s not particularly nice, but he’s respectful and generous. At the party, I found that he hadn’t changed one bit.
Hubby blended in just fine, chatting away and finding common ground with a bunch of doctors he’d never met. I never cease to be amazed by how he can instantly connect with people and make friends. I can’t help but envy him sometimes. 😉
Throughout the week, we all went out to bars and got to know each other. One of the prelims from last year had come out with us (which speaks volumes about the program when a prelim comes back to say hello) and I squeezed as much information out of him as possible. There were a few drunken adventures but everyone survived intact. 😛
Anywho, we had to go through BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training. BLS was easy (CPR, which consists of thirty compressions and two breaths over and over again until the person wakes up or until you can shock them into consciousness with an AED or automated external defibrillator) but ACLS was a little more complicated. ACLS is really BLS with medications (epinephrine or adrenaline, vasopressin (similar to epinephrine), and amiodarone (which regulates an irregular heartbeat)) and a six-member code team. We ran a few mock codes (i.e. when a person goes into cardiac or respiratory arrest), and we did pretty well for our first run. Granted, the codes were on mannequins, so it wasn’t true to life, but it was good practice. The nurse who trained us is pretty hardcore, really sassy and fun. I hope when I have my first code, she’ll be there to help me.
We had endless hours of computer training to the point where my eyes were bleeding and I couldn’t stop fidgeting in my seat. It was torture, I tell you…TORTURE.
Friday was our official first day and I’m assigned to the health clinic for the next week and a half. The clinic is recently renovated and really wonderful. They serve the poor population and most patients are Spanish speaking. I was really excited to start and have patients all to myself. They gave us business cards with our names on it and I was like, whoa! Shit’s getting real! They assigned me two brand new patients (the last one cancelled) and I was like this every time I entered the patient’s rooms:
My first patient was pretty complicated (of course). She was a middle-aged female (who hardly went to the doctor) and she’d unintentionally lost forty pounds since January with intermittent fevers and worsening diarrhea since she’d come back from Peru (travelled Dec-Feb). I’m like, seriously?! This is the first time you’re seeing a doctor for this?! (I assure you, this will be a recurring theme). Usually, when it comes to weight loss that severe, we think cancer, but the diarrhea made me think it’s more likely infectious. The intermittent fevers made me think she has malaria (she took no preventative meds before her travels), so it’s likely she has multiple parasites. This isn’t common at all, so it was a crazy first case to have. I’m screening her for all possibilities (malignant and infectious) and I’ll see her again next week, so we’ll see what happens!
My second patient was a sweet middle-aged woman who just needed a physical and wanted to establish care since she had no medical insurance previously and hadn’t seen a doctor in years as well. I gotta admit, I left the clinic yesterday feeling pretty happy and accomplished, knowing I’d helped them both and would be taking care of them in the future.
So yeah, right now I have ALL THE FEELS, and I’m glad I’m here. Not to mention, I have the next two weekends off, so amen to that!