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Surgery Residency Diary, Mom of 2

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8 years 5 months ago #74835 by cardiacrn1
age: 29 years old in 2 days
kids: daughter (9) son (7)
hubby: neurosurgery PGY 1 somewhere in NY
me: general surgery PGY 1 somewhere in MI
nationality: subsaharan africa
interests: abdominal transplant surgery
world cup team: team brazil:)

Today my wonderful husband had orientation and I was excited for him but sad at the same time because I know the next three months it will be up to me to travel. He has three straight months on Neurosurgery and I am starting on IM. I am making dinner and just plan on having a great night with him. Tomorrow I will be flying out of NY and going back to MI and who knows when we will be seeing each other. I am sure when I am busy with work and kids, I will be ok and I know that the God who has carried me through in the past will be right by my side. I am blessed to be following my dream and to have a wonderful supportive family and friends. I should be studying for my ACLS recertification but I am instead dilli dalling on the computer. To all those who read my blog, may you be encouraged and I hope to be good about updating.

ciao

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein

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8 years 5 months ago #74867 by cardiacrn1
Today is my birthday and I got to celebrate it at my new second home, the hospital. I got my beautifully embroidered white coat, my badge and pager and I am feeling official. It was a good day, and some of the residents from my department came to welcome us and talk, it really put me at ease. As I sat there listening to the 'orienters' speaking, I thought, 'Its my time now and I should go forth and have the best time of my life. Yes it is going to be hard, I am going to work hard, I am going to be exhausted, but I would like to finish the year with little complaining. I chose to do this and I will do it to the very best of my abilities and with a smile. Ok, off to studying ACLS!!

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein

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8 years 5 months ago #74949 by cardiacrn1
BLS/ACLS....check, EMR training....check, long white coat....check, pager...check, orientation....check, educational license....check.

Well, tomorrow is July 1st, I am ready to start. IM will be a good transition for me I think. I am starting off being on call tomorrow which is okay, and I have 4 full days off this month. Call is Q5, I hope I can learn as much as I can on this rotation and though I am not a fan of IM I will do my very best and learn. It is so important to take responsibility for one'e own education.

I believe in God and He has done wonderful things for me in my life. I am blessed to have family that is constantly lifting me up in prayer. When I arrived at orientation last week, I was told that I had no license, I would not be able to start tomorrow. I made some phone calls in our huge health system to find out what happened to my application, no one knew. Somehow it had gotten lost and the last 3 months I have been chilling thinking that all was well. If I had known even in May I would have been ok to apply so I would have my license by July 1st. Anyway, my documents were lost and there was nothing at the state licensing office. I was devastated. That day, thursday, I called the state licensing office and I was told that it would take 6-8 weeks to process my license. I did not know what to do, I was sad, anxious, worried about being behind. What to do??

I called my parents and my sisters and told them what was going on and I knew they were praying for me, even fasting. After my orientation on Friday, I ran around to get the paperwork signed by whomever needed to get it signed at the hospital and drove to the state licensing office in the capital. When I got there, there was another young lady from our rivalry school who had driven to find out about her license and they told her the review would take at least two weeks for her and there was nothing that they could do, it was crunch time and they were going through the paperwork as fast as they could. I was depressed.

When it was my turn, the lady was very nice to me and told me it was taking 6-8 weeks, but maybe I would be lucky since I was a D.O because the list was not as long but it would take a miracle for me to have my license by the 1st. Monday afternoon as I sat in hospital orientation I decided to check my email and my residency coordinator had emailed telling me that they could not find my fingerprints. I got out of orientation since it was close to five and I needed to make phone calls before the offices closed. By God's grace I was able to locate my fingerprints and gave the state licensing office the information to have them transmitted to them. I thought I was on my way to get my license but it was not to be.

Tuesday early morning before I went into the hospital, I look up my license and it is pending. Ha, what was that all about? I wondered. Anyway, I searched under osteopathic medicine and surgery and I was not there, they had put me under allopathic medicine. I made a series of phone calls and had to stay waiting for assistance for close to half an hour on various occasions. I was so discouraged. They realized their error after they had accused me of filling out the wrong application form and with that the lady said it was their error they would do their best but it would still take a miracle for me to get my license by the July 1st; it would probably be at least another two weeks. This is the first time I cried during all this and my husband i-chatted me at the right time and calmed me down. I realized when I was crying that I was doubting God being able to pull this miracle off. I knew everyone was praying for me and was filled with a comfort that basically allowed me to let it go, I laid my burden at the foot of the cross and went on with my day as usual, not thinking about it even for a moment.

When I woke up this morning, I decided to search for my license and I was pleasantly surprised to see it. God came through for me right on time and I am just grateful for His love and mercies. I know that He will be with me now as I begin this journey and I am excited to have this opportunity to learn to be a surgeon in this beautiful country so one day I can help my people...

ciao:)

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein

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8 years 5 months ago #74988 by cardiacrn1
So Thursday July 1st was the first day for thousands of interns around the country. There are some who started the week before but for most of us that was the day. When I arrived at the hospital, I was excited, anxious to start my day. I put on my white coat and smiled, I felt like a fake.... Was I ready for this?? I didn't think so. I reminisced on life as a medical student when I had no worries, now I was a 'doctor.' I went to the floor where I was to meet my resident. He gave myself and the other intern on our team a quick 5 minute orientation, showed us how to transfer the oncall pager to our pagers and assigned us our three patients each with instructions to meet him in 45 minutes. On the IM service, there are two teams on call every day. The first team which was us on thursday carries the on call pager from 7am till 7pm; the second team carries the pager from 7pm to 7am the next morning. There are two on call pagers one to cover the north tower and one to cover the south tower. I for this month will be covering the North tower.

The IM program has a very strong didactics program, at 10 we had case studies and at noon we had conference. After that, it was admissions and cross coverage. The pager went off every few minutes and by the time 7pm rolled around, I was ready to be rid of it. The main calls were elevated blood glucose and hypertension.. A few hypotension here and there; and then other simple stuff like can we d/c foley; restraint renewal; patient wants to sign out AMA. This particular hospital has a cap on the number of admissions per team of 12, with no admissions after 4am. We had our 12 admissions by 230ish am and so it was a 6-6 split between the other intern and I.

I had a 20 year old girl who came in with DKA. SHe had been doing well, her last admission being about 6 months ago, but she was not feeling too good and when she checked her BS her monitor read high. When she came to the ER her BS was almost 900. She is a frequent flyer, she knew when I ordered lantus and food for her that her gap had closed, so she was ready to go home. I went down to the ED, told her all the bad things that can happen when one leaves AMA and told her she was welcome to come back if she experienced any problem and off she signed out... I was devastated for her, here she was, 20 years old, with neuropathy pretty bad, I wondered where she would be in ten years...

One of my other patient was a 22 year old girl with Stage IV colon cancer. Can you imagine?? I was heart broken for her, so young with so much ahead of her. And then the 40 something year old physician on the kidney transplant list... I started thinking of myself; would I at that point if it was me, unable to work, would I be done paying off my student loans?? If I end up doing transplant surgery I will be out of fellowship at 36, I would not have had much time to practice. So sad. It was busy, but without a doubt, I learnt so much in the 30+ hours I was there. Its one of those hospitals where they throw you in the ocean just far enough for you to be able to see the shore; the waters are deep, there are sharks, and its either sink or swim. Our resident on our team is not very helpful so we have to do everything ourselves, he is basically there to consult with in terms of clinical decisions, "BS is 480 after pt. already got 10 units 3hrs ago, what should I do?" Other than that, there is a time both I and the other intern were slammed with admissions and he did not lift a finger to help. I am not complaining because I think its an opportunity for me to learn how to be effective. I just wish I had gotten a better orientation of what to do and what is expected of me. It was all trial and error. I thank God for my experience as a nurse, it has come in handy.

At this rate, I will definitely not be compliant with the 80 hr work week. It is so busy, I never got to sleep even for ten minutes... I had a bowl of soup at noon when we had our conference and that was it until 2am. And after that, I did not get to eat until 4pm when I finally got home even though they want you out by 1pm the latest when you are post call. One thing I learnt about self preservation is to take very good care of myself.. Keep high protein bars in my white coat, munch when I can, keep hydrated; it goes a long way. The patients at this hospital are so sick, it is a great place to train. I am confident I will see it all here and I will be excellent at handling really sick patients.

On a lighter note, note, my hubby who is doing neurosurgery residency somewhere in new york has way better hours than me. They utilize their midlevel providers (NPs, PAs) which gives them better hours and more OR time. He will on average have 2 weekends off (sat,sun) so he will be able to visit me at least twice a month. I on the other hand will have my mandatory 4 24hrs off per month averaged... So today was my first full day off this month and I have 3 more scattered through out, none on the weekend anymore. I just hope I can learn a lot and not just start doing things out of habit and stop thinking. I want to kick ass and if that is what it takes, so be it.

Hope everyone has a great 4th of july weekend. ciao

P.S. For the sake of patient privacy, if anyone feels as though I put too much info on a pt. please feel free to pm me and I will correct that...thanks

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein

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8 years 5 months ago - 8 years 5 months ago #75000 by cardiacrn1
Today was a good day of learning how to manage electrolyte derangements. I had a patient who has been having massive diarrhea. This morning his potassium was 3.0, I supplemented him and then checked his Mg. As I was running around trying to discharge my very first patient that I discharged on my own (pat on the back), I get a text page from the nurse telling me that the K is 2.3…..My gosh, I was thinking about all the very bad things that can happen with a K + that low. Anyway, I ordered another 40meq IV for my patient and at that time checked his mag.. 1.1.. My goodness, ordered 2 g mgso4 X2 doses and then put in recheck labs for the night. I know the nurse is going to be chasing after those electrolytes tonight. So that said, I am at home now, reading on electrolyte disturbances, how to effectively correct them and walla, I also found out what is causing my patient’s diarrhea. I had gone through all his medications with a fine tooth comb and found nothing of significance, but the learning surgeon in me forgot the most obvious reason: he is s/p subtotal colectomy with a iliorectal anastomosis. That can cause diarrhea!! Anyway, I have to say that I am not a fan of internal medicine but I am learning so I can better serve my patients as a surgeon. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. So, as hard as it is after a long hard day at work, it is so important to read. Whether it is my huge schwartz texbook of surgery or an article I print off on up to date or emedicine, its super important. Anyway, I will be calling it a night early today because I am on call tomorrow. Have a great week, and thanks for reading.

Ciao :)

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein
Last Edit: 8 years 5 months ago by .

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8 years 5 months ago #75024 by cardiacrn1
Another interesting night on call in I truly believe one of the busiest hospitals in the world. I am not even kidding. I am sure every intern feels that way. I feel like the learning curve as an intern is super, super steep and man do I feel like the little red engine that could.:) My first night on call I asked my resident what to do about everything I was paged about. My second call even though it was five days later, I was managing everything by myself, walking to the bedside to see the patient if I wasn't sure and holding my own with the pager and my 5 admits for the night. I made to count how many pages I got between 7pm and 7am, since I had to delete my pager 3 times and was halfway through about 70... Can you imagine?? I was a nurse before but I have to say that some nurses really take advantage of having a resident in house 24/7.. Some of the things they call about at 3 in the morning are ridiculous.. If they had to call an attending, I do not think they would at that time..Yes, it can wait until the primary team comes in the morning, don't expect me to take care of that when I do not know anything about the patient. Here is one call I did not mind taking, pager goes off; I call back, "This is Dr. so and so, I was paged." 'Yes, patient in room 879 has not had a bowel movement in 5days, could you give him something.' "Your patient is awake at 230? Is he in any distress, any nausea or vomiting?" 'No, he is sleeping.' "So how come you decided to call now?" 'Because I had some down time and while going through the chart saw that he had no bm for 5days.' "I see, is dulcolax ok," I asked before putting the order into the computer and answering the next page....

Earlier around 8pm, I had gotten a text page, the nurse letting me know the vitals on a patient, BP 82/40, HR 34, RR 8. When I called her back, she asked if I wanted a continuous update on the patient. Since the patient was comfort care, I said don't worry about it, just page me when it is time. This page came around 320. I called my resident because I had never pronounced someone dead before and read my little instructions on 'how to'. I walked into the room, yes the patient was dead; I did everything by the book. First checked to see if he was responding to my voice, then when there was no response, painful stimuli to the chest, then I checked for a carotid pulse and looked, listened and felt for breathing; then I checked his pupils which were fixed and dilated. Checked for conjuctival and corneal reflexes, and then a gag reflex. There was absolutely no spontaneous activity. Time of death, 0329. The hardest part for me was calling the family to inform them that their loved one had passed away. For me it was easier because they knew he was not doing well, but still it was very difficult because they were so emotional and I knew not how to comfort them.

I used to be so nervous about managing DKA, I bet by the end of the next week I will be managing it over the phone. I had a patient come in with a blood glucose of 1296, K of 8.4, Na 129... She was in no doubt DKA, after having a DKA patient the last time I was on call, it was a little easier to deal with. She ended up getting 7liters of fluid, she was dry to the bone... Potassium went back into the cell nicely and all was well. Our emergency room is terribly busy. Young guy 30s comes in with horrible abdominal pain, it ends up being pancreatitis. He had xanthomas on his elbows, under his eyes.. Checked triglycerides, 9,678... What are the chances of seeing that??? It was an awesome case, too bad I was too tired to enjoy it, by the time I was done admitting him I had been awake for 25 hrs without even a minute to close my eyes and rest.

Learning is fun, but tiring. I wish I had more time to read up on my patients when I get home, or time to eat. I get so busy I feel like taking a moment to eat is a waste of time.. I am glad I have the opportunity to learn and it is the truth that the best time to learn, the time you learn the most is when you are on call. You get to see the beginning, how the patient presents and yo get to manage from the get go. Experience really is the best teacher.. I am making an effort to read at least 10 pages of my huge textbook everyday, its hard but I will continue to do my best.. Have a great weekend everyone, thanks for stopping by.:)

ciao

Remember, the days are long but the years are short.- Elizabeth Cooperstein

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