poured out before bed
I had heard that inpatient pediatrics at my institution can be a brutal month – especially during the winter croup and bronchiolitis seasons when the patient census is high, the expectations and degree of sleep deprivation yet higher. I had heard that the residents, although nice, can be demanding, overly harsh on their assigned protégés, their stress and genius trickling down into a mess of social and professional awkwardness. I had heard that attendings work students hard and pimp* them harder, that even brilliant third years are sometimes reduced to tears. The pediatrics program at my medical school ranks near the top of US peds residencies – the attendings, the fellows, the residents, the staff are all top notch, and even if you are not considering a future career in the field, they expect you to act as if you’ve wanted to be a pediatrician since birth. Coming off of two brutal months of surgery (average time spent in bed nights, 3-4 hours), and without a definite interest in pediatrics (I do like kiddos, I do not like sick kiddos), I was not in the least looking forward to the whole experience.
Yet, after spending this dreaded month on one of the toughest inpatient teams in the hospital – I’m not looking forward to leaving the experience behind. The feeling of being part of a great team, of really knowing and being responsible for patients, of having opportunity to learn more each day is not of that sort one leaves lightly behind. I’ve seen terrible and terribly interesting things. I’ve worked incredibly hard, learned how I think, what I know and how to pretend I know more until I find the time to actually know it (yes, this is skill). I’ve formed valuable working and personal relationships with fine colleagues, fine people (yes, and some not so fine). I’ve let myself fall dangerously in love with terminally ill infants and teens and their families. And now, suddenly, with the appearance of the night person, my time to enjoy and take all these things in ends.
Am I happy to return to a schedule that allows interaction with my husband, not to mention a regular sleep and meal schedule? Yes (YES!). But am I glad to have had this opportunity, to have let myself be puzzled and inspired and challenged and perhaps drawn too deeply into the lives of my patients? Absolutely.
I’ve felt this way after each clerkship completed thus far. Medical school is definitely (definitely) not always fun. But I cannot think of any place else I’d rather be.