Intern year? I’m over it.
I seriously wonder, if someone told me back when I was in college what being a doctor was really like, would I have believed them?
The success stories are awesome. That guy who got PEGged that I was so nervous about? The next morning, he’s sitting up in bed with his glasses on reading the paper. “Who are you, and what have you done with Mr H??”
But most people aren’t successes. I’ve written about the Angel of Death phenomenon already. But I’ve since discovered something even worse: pending placement (or its equally alliterative alternative: dispo disaster). It’s hospital jargon for a patient who is medically ready for discharge, but has nowhere to go. Home situation is unsafe. No money for a nursing home. No insurance for a rehab facility. No resources in the community for home services. (This last one is a really big deal, because my hospital’s catchment area spans about 4 hours’ drive. There’s only so much our visiting nurses can do.)
Seriously, high schoolers and college kids who have stumbled on this blog: being a doctor is fucking depressing. I feel totally beaten down by the system — no one goes anywhere; it’s like the Vestibule of Hell — that part where everyone is flying around in a circle. (Apologies, it’s been a long time since I read the Inferno.) There are only two ways out: having money (and thus being able to afford necessary services) or dying.
When I was in medical school, I used to get really frustrated when patients tried to game the system. Now, I admire them. Like the lady who showed up from the ED with 4 bags of personal belongings, including a portable DVD player and a slew of DVDs. She’s getting what she wants: she’s become another dispo disaster.
OK, I’m not actually that depressed. My life outside the hospital is not at all bad, actually. Last night’s surprise snowfall made the world lovely this morning, and the basil on my windowsill is growing, and I feel settled and a part of my community. I just hate looking at my list of patients and thinking “Placement, placement, placement, actual medical needs, placement, placement.”