Monday, September 12, 2016

Chances are that the kid will be fine, though I may very well be forced to maim the parent.

Life was last week, and will, I hope,  continue to be this week like a small slice of heaven with regard t the working hours. I'm in the midst of a pediatric clerkship rotation. Last week and this week have both been outpatient duties. The offices don't even open until after I've usually already been through at least two surgical procedures, and, unless something highly unusual were to happen, the office closes long before I would have left the hospital following checking up on surgical patients, taking copious notes, and preparing for rounds.  It's like being a real person with a real life again, although there is, and forever will be - at least in the foreseeable future -- the omnipresent material to study.

I still need to be present when the office opens, but I am not expected to read the mind of the office manager who opens the place and to know if she has decided to come in especially early to take care of paperwork on a particular day. It is my duty to know when the office is scheduled to be ope to employees on a given day and to be there at that time. I don't have to compete with anyone else to be earlier than that person is.  We recently lost a few people - a bit of an anomaly at this stage of the game --  which has left us slightly short on personnel. This may increase the workload to some degree, but it reduces the obnoxiousness of medical students competing to be noticed by the attending physicians. We're more noticeable if we're the only underlings there. 

The reduced work hours have allowed for, in addition to some much-needed extra sleep,  a bit of an actual social life, which has worked wonders in terms of allowing me to feel actually human once again. I could say more about my so-called social life, but to do so might be to jinx it, so I shall remain mum. I'm keeping in mind that the easy life is temporary. Even before I'm out of this rather extended rotation, the hours will get ugly again at least for a time. The time to worry about it, however, is when it actually happens.

Pediatrics is a highly stimulating rotation to almost all except for those who especially do not like children. That doesn't necessary mean we all wish to pursue a pediatrics specialty. It's a fun clerkship but an intense specialty. Depending upon the size of a practice a person is in -- and you probably don't want to be in a practice that is too large because your patients in such cases are, too often, being cared for by doctors who do not know them  --- on call during a large portion of what is theoretically your time off.  I don't wish to be, in the prime of my career, on call every third weekend and two nights a week. All productive citizens wish work, but i don't especially wish to work that hards.

I plan to have children someday. While society has evolved in ways previously though impossible, and fathers are taking on much more responsibility than tey have previously, a mother is a caregiver if not the primary caregiver to a child or children. If a spouse also has a responsible vocation, or, God forbid, if one finds himself or herself in a position of being a single parent, who is left in charge of the children when parents are called out for emergency situations. And while the idea of coordinating partners' on-call times so that both parents are never on call at the same time,  a doctor married to another doctor in a specialty when on-call times are the norm rather than the exception will tell you that the idea is a pipedream.  That's where nannies come in, I suppose. I accept that there ill be times when my children will be tended by paid caregivers, I would prefer that such occur mostly during daytime hours. Even the idea of leaving my future children in the care of other during daytime hours bothers me.

The pediatric rotation has been everything I thought it would be.  The obvious thought that comes to mind is that if you love children so much, be a pediatrician! It's not that simple.  A pediatrician has to do many things that make children unhappy. Right now I'm mostly the smiling face that enters the room and distracts the child while the real doctor does things that inflict pain upon a child. As the real doctor, I would be the one causing pain to the child. It's obviously for the child's own good, and one therefore need not feel guilty for sometimes having to perform procedures that make children cry, but neither does it make the job especially appealing.

I've already performed some of the dreaded procedures. I've stitched boo boos (both in the E.R. and in the office, cleared wax from a 9-month-old's ear canal, given injections, drawn blood in the attached phlebotomy lab when the pediatric patient had especially difficult-to-access veins, and performed both throat and nasal cultures. I'm probably forgetting a few. The list of procedures is sure to grow longer as this week progresses. I'm still in the relatively unique position of being youthful and possessing a sufficiently sunny countenance that I can then smilingly produce a lollipop or sticker and make the child forget I was the one who just cased him or her the distress. That won't last forever. Youthful appearances fade.

This is one of the longer rotations. Not all of it will be outpatient, and then the hours will return to more of what I have become accustomed. still, I can enjoy the relative freedom and time to study while ti lasts.

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vines,
I'll taste your strawberries.
I'll drink your sweet wines . . .
Etc., etc, ad nauseum

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