When someone crashes and the big red button gets pushed, alarms and pagers go off all over the hospital. With varying degrees of speed, people appear from all corners to play their part, whatever that part might be.
During the last phase of the course, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of trailing along behind to watch while someone’s life hung in the balance. I didn’t want to get in the way and I didn’t want to be some macabre kind of spectator. A few snide comments by nursing staff amplified my reluctance.
But after a year in the hospitals, and a number of simulation sessions where we students fumbled about with saving the plastic man, I realised that if this is what I’m going to do for a living, I need to learn how. I can read and memorise Advanced Life Support Protocols until I can recite them underwater, but a key part of learning this has to be watching while those with experience put them into practice.
I can only do this while I’m a student. Once I’m an intern, I’ll be holding the pager.
I still feel awkward about it, but I’m determined to stop avoiding the calls.
Today I was rostered on to the Emergency Department, and was with the senior doctor on shift when an arrest alarm went off. The senior ED doc is one of the key responders. The doc raced off, and I paused to tell someone we were leaving an elderly patient in the procedure room before I followed.
As I was walking to the ward in question, a small horde of junior-ish doctors appeared from every direction. I passed a Resident I know and said hello. “Run, Toast,” he said, voice sticky with sarcasm, “You might be able to help!”
He and his mate had also just deliberately sent a group of other doctors & med students to the wrong ward.
It’s not a show, and it’s not something you hope will happen. It’s something I want to be able to handle when it’s my responsibility, and I really don’t need smug jerks like that putting me off.
It was a false alarm today, so the main thing I learned was that this guy thinks it’s funny to misdirect his colleagues and to belittle his colleagues of the future.
I woke up this morning wishing I hadn’t ditched a perfectly good career to hock my life and drag myself and The Girl through this mediventure. I’m going to bed the same way.