Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bored on a wire

Internship is all about balance.  People will give you all sorts of garbage advice about work/life balance.  It's garbage because it's impossible.  Work wins.  Life loses.  The end.

No, the balance I am talking about is the balance of how you spend your time at work.  At various times you are working for the patients, and at other times you are working for the consultant (the big boss).  Very occasionally you are working for yourself, such as when you go and get a cup of coffee or sneak off to open your bowels.  Refer to my previous comments about work vs life.  Pooping is life and is to be savoured as it arises.

So anyway, I was talking about patients vs consultants.  This is something I struggle with.  I tend to get caught up in spending lots of time talking to patients and their families.  Nobody else but the intern bothers to take the time to explain what the test results are, what they mean, what the prognosis is, what else might happen, whether or not this is all someone's fault or not, and in as much plain English as can be mustered.

I tend to spend a fair bit of time on this because:
  1. Ostensibly it's what the hospital is there for.
  2. I feel sorry for these people that Life has dealt a bad hand too and I want to help them out.
  3. When I do it, they always say really nice things to me later on when they leave hospital about what a great doctor I am.
So it's a mix of idealism and rampaging ego that motivates me.

Unfortunately, spending my time working for patients means that every now and then my consultant misses out.  Such as the other day when I was busy explaining to my patient's family what was going to happen now that we'd discovered that a lot of bad shit was going down with him.  It meant that I was 5 minutes late to a drug rep talk about some new drug that does the same thing as some existing drug except it costs more.  It had been arranged by my consultant and clearly his dignity was bruised that I hadn't prioritised it above all else.  I could tell this because he said to me, "If you can't be bothered turning up to education sessions you can get the fuck off my ward."

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think I've got the balance just about right.


Lesleyfish said...

Rubbish when you're the only one who gives a toss, isn't it? I'm currently spending my days trying to remind surgeons that those lumps of meat they CT scan then cut up are actually people with feelings who yell at me when the doctors [surgeons] don't tell them how bad their cancer is. (I'm not winning. Sigh.)

But hang in there. I keep telling myself it'll get better eventually.

PTR said...

Sadly it seems that being a jerk actually makes the job much easier. But I'm not ready to go there yet.