Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Inpatient Medicine - Finally

Well, I have finally started my inpatient medicine internal medicine rotation at a teaching hospital.  The first day was pretty exciting - we rounded on patients, I got to know my team, we hung out in the emergency department and admitted people, ran to catch a code blue, etc.  It had a very "Scrubs in India" feeling to it because the residents and the attending are all from India (except one woman from Bosnia?).  They are nice, but one challenge is they have very thick accents and are kind of clique-y.  One of them in particular has a very thick accent that I have a lot of trouble understanding, and I know he has trouble enunciating so I feel a little bad asking him to repeat himself all the time.  They all talk softly too, mumbling, so it is hard to tell what they are discussing unless I am super close.  

It's gotten a bit more negative as time goes on - first day I thought things were going to be good: I would follow a patient, the attending told me to pick a patient and a topic to research, and then I'd discuss it with them and present the patient.  My first day I wanted to follow a patient with COPD, but then she was going to be transferred to ICU where we don't really round or follow patients.  This was after I had already done a writeup and was preparing on that topic.  It was then suggested that I follow another patient - so I picked a man with liver cirrhosis and varices.  So that's two writeups and two topics I needed to look over that night, on the off-chance we went to the ICU.  When I finally try to present the next day, the attending corrects me on the order in which I was giving information, the standard form that were taught and how I've been doing it over the last year with no complaints from any of my preceptors.  After I do half a presentation,  then the resident I was working with filled in the physical exam portion (which was essentially what I would have said, minus two small findings), and another resident presented the next patient.  That person did the EXACT format of presentation that I did, but of course without being called on it.

To make things a bit worse, today the resident who has a thick accent wanted me to look up some information - how a medicine is connected to a condition.  I figured it was a "this is a good topic to know, look it up and we'll discuss it" type task, similar to what attendings have done in the past, and he didn't give me any indication it was otherwise.  After a 30 minute search on my usual online textbooks, all reputable sources like Harrison's and Current Medical Dx and Tx, I couldn't find anything linking the two.  I come back, told them what I found out about the topic and medication, and they tell me to just google it or search on pubmed.  I got pretty annoyed because I didn't know he was just scouting possibilities for research projects and there WASN'T an established link between the two things.  I go back to pubmed, which they spelled out to me as if I had no clue what it was even though I've used it a million times, and I still couldn't find a single article linking the two conditions.  Everything was consistent with what I had previously reported.  

Ultimately I found an article about use for the medication in the condition in general (which I had already described) and there was another medication he was curious about so I found a couple token articles about that, but I left in a rather sour mood after having to do almost 2 hours of busywork for no real payoff and reviewing an esoteric topic that I already knew.  

The topic I'm reading up on for the attending currently, bacterial meningitis, was something I read through yesterday - I must have read through 3 different full-length UpToDate articles, and where I thought there were holes in my knowledge I continued to investigate.  Wrote everything out, went and checked out the pertinent sections in my review books, and today he still wanted to give me more time because he said UpToDate isn't the best source and kept asking about random textbooks that they used back in India.  At least he approves of Harrison's and CMDT, but I read over the meningitis information in those texts, and it was verbatim what I found in the UTD articles, and actually was less detailed.  I understand that UTD is a quick reference and half the articles are short and to the point, but I went for the full-length meaty articles.  

Long story short: Feels like they underestimate how much I know without even testing me, or letting me go on when I try to engage in a discussion.  

Plus sides: There is night call twice a week, 8pm to 8am, and then morning rounds, usually get off around 11am the next day - meaning I get to sleep in the day before, study, eat at home, and then spend the night in the hospital, knowing I have the entire next day off.  Essentially reduces my number of shifts by two.  I am not sure if I have weekend duty, but if I can get by with just 3 shifts per week, I'll be pretty stoked.  

As far as rotations go, I got sub-internship at the program I plan to rank #1 - the guy who called was I think a rank higher than the lady who actually does the coordinating and he went over my application.  He commended my USMLE Step 1 score and grades, and liked my personal statement - tried to connect a bit with some things he's done as well.  It almost felt like an interview - which, in a sense, it was, but it felt almost like a residency-screening interview.  I'll assume that his positive feedback about my application indicates I have a good chance of getting an interview for the residency program (provided I don't screw up my boards and rotations between now and then).  

Called a few more places today, starting to get a few more things on board - I'm going to see about doing some easy rotations while studying for my Step 2's so that I can have more vacation left over for a potential trip to Europe.  I think I have ER and Surgery in the bag, and ICU and a Medicine Subspecialties should be easy enough to arrange since Touro has a few exclusive arrangements.  Still waiting on Davis to get back to me, but I'm not really holding my breath too much for them.  Also waiting on another program out there, but they just updated me that they're looking over the application and I should hear from them any day now.

Perhaps time to take a nap and then read up on more meningitis and do some practice questions.......

Monday, April 9, 2012

Internal Medicine - first 2 weeks

Internal medicine for the first four weeks is to be outpatient, so I am essentially back in Family Medicine.  The only difference is we see a lot more older patients, and instead of being with one doctor for four weeks and another for four weeks, I am with a total of 4 or 5 different doctors, and usually two different ones in a single day - one for the morning and one for the afternoon.  It's a challenge getting used to what they expect in terms of presentations and their personalities - harder to get a good rhythm going, so it feels more chaotic and stressful.  Also with all the older patients that I see, I can't help but feel a little depressed thinking of myself one day being where they are with lost loved ones, being unable to get up and around, unable to hear, or demented.  Two days a week I work with a doctor or a nurse who each goes to skilled nursing facilities.  I see a lot of demented people there, who are so far gone they can only half-feed themselves, smack their lips, and don't recognize their family members - who wish they would hurry up and die because they are quickly destroying their life savings.  I asked and you are able to stipulate in your advanced directive that if you are unable to recognize family members or have an acceptable quality of life for someone of your age and physical condition (not mental) that you give permission to discontinue all medications, including ones that were being given prior to mental deterioration.  The catch with dementia is you can't stop any treatments once you've started, but you can abstain from starting treatments.  So a patient with palliative care lung cancer patient starts bleeding per rectum, you don't have to go looking for colon cancer, you can just keep doing what you're doing and give narcotics.  It's a tragedy so many families are trapped watching the husk of someone they once loved deteriorate further and drain their finances that could put their grandkids through college, or help pay off debts.

In other news, I've been adhering to a stricter study schedule and trying to make sure to get my quota done each day - if I don't, it means no fun time.  Last week it definitely cut into my fun time, so I have to become a faster reader...  I also have to give a presentation next week, so this coming weekend will probably be spent working on that.  Also been busy trying to get rotations set up for fourth year.  Soon I'll need to call another place in Sacramento, but hopefully after I hear about two other sites because I don't want to be stuck without a rotation...  So much stress.  Wish I could just be done with medschool and onto residency.