Friday, June 26, 2009

Reflections on New Intern Week

It is new intern week in teaching hospitals all over the country. The bright, shiny faces of brand new doctors who have their degree but only limited practical experience enter into the world of their real medical education and in some cases indentured servitude. The past week I have watched the new interns being toured around my hospital, appearing in the cafeteria en masse all tanned and relaxed appearing. New intern week doesn't effect me too much because we don't let the interns anywhere near our unit. Still seeing them around reminds me of that time 12 years ago when I was one of those bright, smiling faces in a different hospital, but the same deal.

I did a pediatric residency, because I wanted to be a neonatologist. I am unusual like that. I didn't much like general peds, but it was a necessary step. Anyway, as I knew what I wanted to do, I wasn't too scared when I got my schedule and saw that I would start in the NICU. My two colleagues were petrified. I was excited. Even more so because I'd be on call that very first night as an intern. We got oriented, we did our work. We had almost no idea how to do anything, but our chief resident and fellow were very helpful and supportive. We all got through the day, my new friends left, and I stayed behind to take my first call. A very brief time later, I attended my first ever delivery of a 25 week, 500 something gram baby. My fellow did most of the work, but she taught me what needed to be done and how to do several new (to me) procedures that night. That little boy became my patient, my teacher. He taught me so many of the fundamentals that I still use today. I followed him all month and then when he was ready to go home, I became his general pediatrician. He actually made it through his course of being a 25 weeker without any signfiicant complications and by the time, I left residency he was 3 and doing remarkably well. He was the last patient I ever saw in a general pediatric clinic.  I still get letters from his mom every so often. I will think of him celebrating his 12th birthday this week. I hope he is well.

This morning watching the new interns at breakfast, I was reminded of that long ago night, and that little boy. I was also reminded of who I was all those years ago. I hope that I haven't totally lost the amazement that I felt in caring for this little tiny baby. Certainly, I know what I'm doing now, and I have been to hundreds of deliveries like his, but he is special to me still. Also, I hope that I will never lose the drive that brought me into this career and that makes it more than just a job. 


Anonymous said...

Very nice post... It is stuff like this that shows me what a great doctor you are. It is nice to hear that your "first patient" was as important to you as you are obviously to him and his family.


Anonymous said...

New interns hey. Its good to hear your experience. I remember my first intern night in rural australia. And I still remember the overwhelming fear of being the only doctor in the hospital. The nurses held my hand. Did you have that overwhelming fear???? I hope I always remember how useless and scared I felt. So I can be nice to new interns.


JaxMom said...

Very nice post, Lis!