Saturday, September 19, 2015

what has it got in its pocketses

It's time for the weekly washing of my white coat 
{white + me has never been a good combination...this white coat is going to be a rag by the time I graduate}
and as I emptied my pockets, I thought it might be fun to show you what a 3rd year medical student carries around all the time.

1) Stethoscope {with little helicopter ID tag, of course}
This is basically guaranteed to be unneeded, and to tangle up everything you're trying to put in or pull out of your pockets, catch on door handles, drop onto patients' laps, and generally get in the way of anything you try to do.
If, however, you leave your stethoscope in your bag three stories down in a locked room, there is a 100% chance your attending* will call you into a room to hear a heart murmur or lung mass.
That is just how it works.
{*attending, by the way, is short for attending physician - the doctor in charge of the patient, overseeing students and residents, who may be doing most or all of the actual care, depending on what level they are at in their training}

2) Reflex Hammer
Used to remind you every time you do a physical exam that you stink at checking reflexes, in my case because every time I take something called a hammer to my patient's kneecap, I cringe. I am learning to hit harder. Otherwise my patients tend to fake reflexes just so I don't keep tapping them. {The brachioradialis reflex is genuinely hard to find...I can get it on myself, though, which is always the first step when it comes to me finding reflexes.}

3) Pocket Medicine: The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Internal Medicine
The brain book: the short version of everything you need to know as a student and resident. {And which you'll hopefully have down by the time you're an attending.} The new version is purple. And more expensive. And otherwise basically the same. 
The print is so small and the number of abbreviations so large it's somewhat difficult to find what you're looking for in it, or understand what it's saying when you do find it. But I'm getting more used to it. 

4) Templates
Extremely helpful guides written out by various attendings on the phraseology and order they want for oral presentations of patients or for admission write-ups. 
And several more off the internet to use when I'm interviewing patients and doing exams. Some students see template use as evidence of lack of knowledge...I come at it from the airplane pilot school of thought, where nobody cares how many years you've been flying, you pull out the checklist and you make sure you didn't forget a single thing before you take off. Atul Gawande, the physician-author who has "achieved rock-star status" among his peers, agrees with me. {See The Checklist Manifesto: How to get Things Right.} {I keep meaning to read his books, but I haven't had money to buy them.}

5) Maxwell Quick Medical Reference
Normal lab values, quick overview of history and physical, neurological exam steps, etc. This will probably be shredded before I graduate, but by then I should have it all down. 

6) Pager
ie completely useless object that gets in my way, pulls my waistband down, or takes up space in my pocket and bangs my hip all day. I was paged exactly 1 time while on OB/GYN rotation, and that was while I was sitting at a lecture and therefore could not go anyway. And I have been paged 1 time in 4 weeks of my MED 1 rotation. Yet there is always the off chance that I might be paged. Therefore I continue carrying it around with me.
It is, in a word, annoying. 

7) Assorted Pens
3 is a leeetle overkill...I try to have 1 black and 1 colored with me all the time, though. And I have about 10 in my bag: colored, because that's how I study and also how I take notes when our attendings give us lectures, and black, because I always have extras in case attendings or fellow students need a pen. Which they at times do.

8) Chapstick
This might just be me. But when I don't have it my lips are not happy. 

9) Phone
Because pagers are outdated and this is actually how attendings get a hold of me. Also how the other student on rotation with me and I keep track of each other. And also what my mother uses to text me when she's worried over how late I'm staying at the hospital. Or what my siblings use to text me story ideas when I'm in the middle of work. {'cause clearly I don't have enough of those, and that's totally what I need when I'm trying to concentrate. guysssss... XD}

10) Watch
It's in my pocket because it's not terribly comfortable, and I've gotten used to not wearing one. But you never know when you'll need to check somebody's pulse, and clocks are not always where you'd think they should be.

11) Name Tag
So attendings know which student is which when they're yelling at us 
{heheh actually so far all my attendings have been like If you do this/say this/write this/sound like this/don't know this, your attendings will chew you out/yell at you/rip you apart. All of which I extremely appreciate, especially the part when they're not actually being nasty to me while they tell me how to improve.} and so patients know I'm official and so I can access locked wards and so I can get free lunch.
All good things.

Not Shown: 
 Which I used to take the picture...used alllllllll the time for looking up diseases, tests, random things I don't know, to write up notes when necessary, and for study materials when I'm not otherwise occupied. 
{also email and facebook, because sometimes brains require study breaks}

pocket-sized notebook
I go through them very fast {pocket notebooks are literally always a good present for medical students}, but I always have extra paper with me for emergencies. 
{assignments from attendings, notes on patients, lists of tasks I have to accomplish, random story ideas...}

It doesn't actually look like much, but my coat feels like it weighs 15 pounds. And then there's my bag, which I carry around all the time...that weighs about three times as much. But that's a set of items for another day. :D

Ooh, something else that sometimes fits in my pockets...
 My new favorite drink. 
Peach is the absolute best...dragonfruit is good...clementine is good...lemon tastes like expensive lemonade without having the ridiculous sugar content...blueberry is good, but I don't particularly like blueberry...pomegranate is pretty good too, but not as sweet as the others. 
I've been drinking between 1 and 3 a day, so I really hope they're as good as their label says they are. 
{I'm just waiting for a study to come out saying stevia actually causes cancer...}

And I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't include at least 1 picture of the view from the student room where I usually am when not running after my attending. 

{ipad again, so poor quality. but that view is high quality, let me tell you. when the sun hits the water right it's like the whole world is sparkling.}

3 thoughts shared:

Ashton said...

My gosh... that pager is huge looking. o.O

I've never heard of that drink before... Panama peach?! I *lived* in Panama and don't recall ever seeing a peach... or eating one. Mhmmmm...

That view... anything that has to deal with water I LOVE. :D

"So patients know I'm official and so I can access locked wards and so I can get free lunch" .... that made me laugh. xD

Vicki said...

I love this post!!! What a fun glimpse into your life and what your days look like. Have you ever seen the photo project where the guy stopped random people on the street and asked them to empty out their handbags for photos? It was an awesome insight into people's personalities. And so is this!

I hope you're doing great! Thank you so much for continuing to pop by and leave notes on my blog - your encouragement means so much to me. I think the first years of our programs are similar, as you said, except mine is about 1/3 as demanding/stressful as yours!! I'm so proud of you and I think you're fabulous and awesome and amazing!

Enjoy that gorgeous sparkly view!!!

~ Vicki

Katherine Sophia said...

XD it's clunky and large, Ashton - every time I clip it in my pocket I think of modern technology and wonder why we're still running around with these things. :D
haha...see, they're making stuff up. I'm betting their labeling is all a hoax and they actually have sugar and dye in them. XD
Me too. :) It's a gorgeous view and it makes me happy every day.

Ooh, I haven't, but that sounds like a really cool photo project, Vicki. I've seen a few blog posts like this before, though, and always thought it was fun to see what people had in their purses or whatever. :D It's just cool to see what people find necessary to a day. XD
*hugs* I think the same about you. XD And I always enjoy getting to see your updates!


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