I’m only two shifts in, so I can not speak in great depth about the adventures of being a new intern on nights. But wanted to post a short update anywhoooo…
Getting on the correct sleep schedule wasn’t too too bad, I slept in later than usual on my first day (went from getting up around 5:30/6 to getting up at about 8am) and then I took a quick nap in the afternoon while Andy was out for his nap. But I must say, I was quite fuzzy and drunk feeling by the end of that first shift. By the time I hit the hay – it was 8am and I had stayed up about 24 hours total, because I got off work a little later than I was supposed to – worked for 14 hours and it was only supposed to be a 13 hour shift (many programs, even to this day, have something more like 18 or 24 hour-long shifts for the resident, and yeah I’ve been told countless times that it was even worse, “back in the day” before duty hour restrictions! Oy, I can only imagine!). I mean I do remember everything that happened, I wasn’t that out of it, and I remember feeling pretty coherent, however, it was a very slow and cumbersome version of myself I was having to work with. In addition, I was trying a lot of new stuff and running into countless strange road blocks/new challenges along the way and my brain was ever so reluctant to confront them!
I extremely was blessed to work with a very kind, thorough, methodical, and organized senior resident, who not only offered support in every challenge I faced but showed me both by example and by walking me through the various new tasks residents must accomplish – such as how to properly admit patients, how to address nursing concerns on patients experiencing short runs of V-tach, or fevers, or fussy sick babies, as well as other night-shift-type duties. This helped immensely!
Among my new tasks, one of the first was answering calls from the nursing staff. Unsure of myself initially, I answered with a, “Hello, this is Captain Bier?” And gradually throughout the night I started to remember to answer with a slightly more confident version of that phrase, making sure to call myself Doctor instead of Captain, as no one really goes by rank when doing any kind of patient care! I got calls about critical lab values, about patients needing sleep aids, or antipyretics… I learned to make a couple decisions on my own, and a bunch with the second opinion of my senior resident, and even one where I did a quick exam of the patient and called the attending to get his input on a decision. It felt really good knowing I wasn’t on my own to deal with things with which I wasn’t comfortable flying solo. I was just a little concerned, because I didn’t feel like I knew when it was ok for me to decide something on my own – as a result, I would always go back to my senior and tell him what had happened whenever I had made a decision, kind of my way of asking/testing him out to see if what I did was appropriate. He never gave me the impression I was doing too much on my own, so I supposed that’s a good thing. Hopefully I will get better at this…
As I said, I only worked two shifts – and then I got two days off! Was a glorious little “weekend,” especially as it was the 4th of July in D.C.! Got to spend some marvelous quality time with the fam, which was great… sad that tomorrow it all must come to an end and despite the fact I now have my in-laws in town visiting, I’m sure I’ll hardly see them, as I have to work!
I can say that going from medical student to intern has been pretty exciting! Walking in on day one was yes of course very intimidating, but it was crazy the difference between how I felt walking in that first day and walking in the second! So much more confidence and excitement for the shift to come! Don’t get me wrong, I was still in a state of being constantly slightly terrified haha, but it’s just so cool to finally be able to say that I’m a doctor and I can finally sign stuff and get things moving. Yes, there are people above me, who are still signing on that bottom line of a lot of what I do, but it’s definitely different, and more engaging than it used to be as a student. Also, I feel like I can be myself more because I’m not in a perpetual state of interviewing for a job anymore, feeling like I need to always be searching for what they want me to say or do. Instead I’m thinking more independently and making more sincere friendships with those around me. So that’s exciting!
Well I’ve accomplished my goal to stay up until 1am, now it’s time to climb in bed, and tomorrow twill be: nights – day number three!