The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Scutmonkey Rules

Okay, I rarely do this-- post passages directly from another blogger. But rarely does another blog actually make me laugh out loud. Which isn't so great if I'm working on my laptop, say, in the middle of Starbucks. People think I'm crazy. But this recent exchange, ever-so-wonderfully captured by Michelle over at The Underwear Drawer, was worth risking a Form 1.

(That 'Form 1' comment was a medical joke. And jokes like that are why I will never be cool.)

So for context, Michelle is an anesthesiology resident in NYC. And this recent OR exchange illustrates what is wrong with the traditional medical mentality:

So of course Joe and I had to work this last week, but thankfully the OR schedule has been somewhat light, with the exception of the orthopedic rooms, because those orthopods just don't know when to stop. Yes, they love doing surgery, and I respect that, but at some point, don't you think that stopping the smell the roses or having outside pursuits is a sign of a fully realized life? Or am I just a lazy turd?

Apparently the latter, according to the neurosurgeons. I was in a neuro case just the other day when the following conversation transpired between the surgical team and myself. They were discussing interdepartmental rivalries between our institution and [Upper East Side Affiliate Hospital]. You know, the surgeons down there talking smack about the surgeons up here and vice versa. The attending surgeons then posed this question.


NEUROSURG ATTENDING
How about Anesthesia? Did the anesthesiologists down there have some sort of big rivalry with the group up here?

SCRUB NURSE
[Who has worked at both hospitals]
No, the anesthesiologists were pretty laid-back.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
Anesthesia doesn't have rivalries because anesthesiologists have no ego.

MICHELLE
I'm trying to figure out if you said that as a compliment or an insult.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Bitterly)
All Anesthesia wants to do is go home! You know they leave at 4pm some days? 4pm!

MICHELLE
Um, it's 7pm now, and I'm right here.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Starting to froth)
I get into work at 4am and leave at 10pm! They get six extra hours in their day! Six hours! That's a whole life!

MICHELLE
That's exactly right. That is a whole life. My whole life outside of the hospital.

NEUROSURG ATTENDING
If all you want to do is go home, why be a doctor at all?

MICHELLE
I don't think that wanting regular hours means that you shouldn't be a doctor. I think that having regular hours enables me to be a doctor and something else too.

MICHELLE'S INNER MONOLOGUE
Like a human being.

NEUROSURG ATTENDING
Ignore us, we're just jealous.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Mumbling angrily to self)


It's this strange attitude in medicine, this macho thing, that in order to be the best, most committed, most self-sacrificing, most punk rock doctor, you have to basically sell your soul to the hospital. LOOK AT ME IN AWE AND WONDER, FOR I HAVE NO OTHER LIFE. I just don't really get that attitude. I mean, I'm glad there are people like that out there, I suppose. I mean, when it comes down to it, most of us will do what we need to do to take care of a patient in trouble, regardless of what time of day it is. But on the other hand, doesn't it make you a better doctor to, I don't know, take a break once in a while? Or think of it another way--do you want to be operated on at 8pm, the fourth elective CABG of the day, after your surgeon has been awake for the past 30 hours?

("No" and "Hells, no" are both acceptable answers.)
Thank God I'm not the only one that thinks that medicine and having a life are not incompatible life goals.

If you want to read more of Michelle's wicked and warped sense of humour, check out her blog at The Underwear Drawer. I only recently discovered that she is also the force behind Scutmonkey, who was the originator of the Twelve Types of Med Students that circulated around my med school class way back when. Check her out. Seriously.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Xavier Emmanuelle said...

Awesome! I have to ask though: what's form one?

9:01 AM

 
Blogger doctor T said...

Thanks Couz. You've given me ANOTHER reason to regret doing the English PhD rather than the anesthesiology MD. My personal life is limited AND my pay is less than $20k (Can) a year.

Seriously, though, how many people do you know who started med school at 28?

2:35 AM

 
Blogger Couz said...

Um, me. :-)

Although in all fairness, I was 27 for the first month of my first year. But you could counteract that by attending a three-year medical school (like McMaster or Calgary) rather than a four-year medical school.

Seriously. I did it. Why can't you?

6:32 AM

 
Blogger A girl said...

Me too... I started medschool at 30. In fact, average age in 1st year of med is around 26yo. One of my colleagues started at 43 and another at 40. Most of my friends above 28. So Doctor T, you have no excuse...

2:00 AM

 
Blogger Couz said...

Sorry I missed your question, Xavier-Emmanuelle. A Form 1 is a form that is used frequently in the ER to hold a patient who is deemed to be a threat to themselves or to others against their will for a maximum of 72 hours in order to complete a full psychiatric assessment.

So the verb 'to be formed' in context means that you're loopy enough to be held against your will for a psych context.

Makes sense?

12:59 PM

 
Blogger Xavier Emmanuelle said...

Yup, makes sense now. Thanks!
Xavier
P.S.: Don't worry about science-y jokes - my chem prof had a room of 400 in stitches with a joke about a hydrogen atom walking into a bar.

7:04 PM

 
Blogger Patient Anonymous said...

OMG. I had stopped by The Underwear Drawer recently but forgotten all about it...there are just too many blogs out there! You are right...it is funny. I like!

And by the way, I got the joke...only because I've been "formed" enough myself. You're cool.

7:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was 31 when I started med school.

In Las Vegas, where I was once a Psych Nurse, we call it getting 'Legaled.' Every few years the elected officials update the law to something hip like "Legal 2000." What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

7:45 PM

 

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