June 19, 2003
Do No Harm

A busy week. After ATLS, we spent the week getting our certifications in Basic Life Support (essentially CPR), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support. This latter course prepares us to be a member of a "Code Team"--what you see so dramatically on medical TV shows when they slap the paddles to a flatlining patient...except you don't really put paddles on a person with a flatline. Almost everything you see during a code on a show like ER is wrong: from the rubbing defibrillator paddles together, to shocking an asystolic patient to life, to the big adrenaline syringe to the heart.

Anyway, it's been a long week. Not because the material is that challenging; the American Heart Association has been very good about making the decision-making in cardiac life support fit a logical framework, but because you spend long days shoehorning in facts in order to pass written and practical exams at the end of the day where you normally might do this over a leisurely week in another setting. And you also want to avoid sheepishly sitting back down in the examining room because you didn't pass the written the first time around.

Today was tiring just because it was boring. This was our orientation to the surgical services which meant sitting in the Endosurgery suite having various people jaw at us for 8 hours.

And then the slow enlacing knot in the middle when you start realizing that, in a couple of days, you are the guy on the line. You are the support system that allows Seniors, Chiefs, and Attendings to do what they're supposed to do--operate. You are the first person the nurses call. You keep the Floor buffed and polished so the Chief doesn't return to chaos at the end of a tiring day in the OR. And you're facing the steepest learning curve in professional life: the Intern year on a surgical service.

Posted by erich at June 19, 2003 06:19 PM
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