gray zone

March 31, 2009

working vs. learningscutmonkey comic from the underwear drawer, a brilliant blog by michelle au, a pediatrics-resident-turned-anesthesiologist. she is working on a book which is sure to be hilarious and fantastic. and no, i am not just praising her so that she doesn’t sue me for using her image.

existing in a gray (grey’s?) zone between education and indentured servitude, residency can be a strange thing sometimes. most of the time (ie: on wards, ICUs, ED, primary care clinics, etc), we are doing a job. in fact, we are the yoked oxen of the medical system, churning out paperwork and getting all of the annoying stuff done that no one else really wants to do.

at our institution, residents are the first physicians to greet the patient in the ER and often the last one to sign them out of the hospital (in addition to the nurse doing the formal discharge). we call in their prescriptions, order meds and handle crises in the middle of the night, and bring consultants together. often (such as in primary care clinic) we operate fairly independently — there are many times the attending will sign off on a resident’s recommendations based on a report without seeing the patient, if there are no specific concerns.

in general, most of the time we are needed. this is best illustrated by the frustrating fact that on most rotations, you can’t even call in sick without bringing in a replacement. it’s stressful, but gratifying.

other times, like now, we shift gears and get to be learners. in these situations, we are pretty much useless decoration and are there solely to expand our own pediatric horizons. interestingly, time moves infinitely slower in these sorts of situations, and the whole thing feels like an instant demotion. yesterday at the dentists office i explained to many people what a resident was (“you know, like meredith on grey’s anatomy!”) after being repeatedly asked how much longer i have in school.

maybe i shouldn’t take offense to that, but while residency is still growing/learning/training, i already went to school for 18 years and i really think that’s enough. people are often surprised that we get paid — seriously, if i had to do this for free (or pay to do it!) it would have been time to quit long ago.

my ID badge says “MD, MS*” — and i’ve been asked before whether the MS stood for ‘medical student.’ yes, everyone — i’m a medical student with an MD. because that would make sense. right.

again, i don’t really know why i care. i guess i should just relax and enjoy feeling like a kid again, with no responsibilities other than to myself. because it won’t last. but it doesn’t feel as good as one might think. i guess i’ll try to work on it.

* my MS is for a master’s in pharmacology — i didn’t ask them to put that on the badge, but it’s there.



workout: 1 hour spin class (including warmup / cooldown) + 30 minutes of yoga for runners. i tried yogadownload‘s detox yoga and it was wayyyy over my head — i got so lost! i’m not going to give up, though. by the way — today is is the last day to order yogadownload classes at half price! you can do so with code carrotsncake.

my HR in spin was only average 166. i think i might not have pushed it as hard as usual, although i saw it climb into the 180s during some more difficult segments.

doin’ time: i LOVED the recipe i made last night! apricot almond chicken with mint pesto is the official title, but it is even better because it is crispy on the outside and contains melty GOAT CHEESE as well, bringing it to the zenith of deliciousness. seriously, this ranks among my all-time favorites from the cookbook i’m working through. it looked intimidating, but actually wasn’t all that hard and was amazingly mouth-wateringly good. served with a simple spinach salad with citrus vinaigrette, and some little pieces of challah i found in the freezer (leftover from a french toast attempt!).

close-up, because it was THAT GOOD:

reading: 30 minutes on the AAP recommendations on pediatric dental care. did you know that ideally, kids should be seen by a dentist by age ONE? i didn’t.

flossing: inspired by the dentist’s office, oh yes i did.