The temptation to quit is a traitor. It does not announce itself boldly during the peak of your work load, often you are too preoccupied to ponder on your lack of a life. Instead, it sneaks in during that silent minute in between surgeries, as you slump on the floor and wait for the next patient to be brought it; it sits in one corner as you wait for the elevator doors to open, you holding both stretcher bed and oxygen tank and it’s only an hour past midnight; it whispers in your ear, to wake you up from a nap on the first Sunday afternoon that you get to spend at home in a long time; it holds open your bedroom door, as you don your white coat, grab your stethoscope and keys, and rush to your morning rounds.
Only the patients whom you serve will keep you moving forward. Not pride. Not your family. Not even your ambition.
Please do not get sick in July. Why you ask? Well, you might die. No, we’re not suffering from heat strokes..
In a recent study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, there was a 10% spike in teaching hospital deaths during the month of July due to medical errors.
This spike, is referred to as “The July Effect” and it’s attributed to well, us — from the influx of all of us starting our residency training (internship).
The reason behind it? As a medical student, you typically graduate from medical school in June and end up beginning your first year of residency in July. To be honest, as eager as we are to invade the hospital, to care for our patients, and to make real medical decisions, there is just one problem. We don’t quite know what we’re doing all the time.
After at least four years of undergraduate education, another four years of medical school, and the letters M.D. after our name.. we arrive in the hospital (at our first job) with virtually no practical knowledge of medicine. At least we have our ‘peripheral brains’ made up of condensed medical manuals to make up for the lack of knowledge in our actual brains.
Everyone — even doctors, especially doctors — have to learn and train in order to become proficient. Interns start out as rookies, not seasoned veterans. Experience takes time.
So if you have to go to a hospital in July, please treat the interns with patience and respect — then perhaps check with your nurse to make sure we know what we’re doing.
One afternoon in clinic, a patient’s wife stopped me in the hallway. I had just finished describing an operation to her and her husband, obtaining his consent and answering their questions, but I wasn’t surprised that the woman was still worried. Despite her easy smile and infectious throaty laugh, she had appeared anxious throughout the visit, the corners of her mouth twitching and her hands flitting from her hair to her face to her pocketbook and back to her hair again.
In the hall, she opened her mouth to speak but stopped abruptly when one of the residents, a doctor-in-training, passed by. Once the resident was out of earshot, she cleared her throat. “Please don’t bring any students into the operating room,” she said, looking toward where the resident was standing. “It’s not that I don’t like these young doctors. I just don’t want one practicing on my husband.”
(Source: The New York Times)