I knew what was coming before it happened. She was looking up at the ring of white coats encircling her hospital bed, eyes darting from side to side to follow the sequence of their voices when suddenly, her lower lip began to quiver. And with her quivering lip, her breaths came faster and she sucked in deep gulps of air between her pleading questions. But soon the pack was headed on to the next patient on rounds. She was left alone, and the tears rolled freely.
Ana sits on the exam table in front of me explaining how, in three short weeks, her mother will evict her from her childhood home. She is eight months pregnant and is studying night courses to become a paralegal. As her prenatal provider and primary care physician, I have been sending referrals to numerous community agencies in hopes of securing housing at the local YWCA.
Health and wellness are more than a simple product of access and initiative, as such a simplified formula is only enjoyed by a very small minority. The equation becomes more complicated as new factors enter, such as unemployment or housing insecurity. Despite their importance as determinants of health, such elements are seldom addressed in the medical interaction between patient and physician, and are thus discarded in the interest of a perceived efficiency.
Join me as I reflect on the challenges and joys of being a family medicine resident physician through the pages of my personal journal.
We are in the thick of winter and URI season is upon us. Since a few of the older providers have been out for the holidays, I have been seeing their patients for same-day sick visits. It can get tedious after a morning of telling patients why I’m not giving them antibiotics. And very easily, one can fall into a “well bias” trap where you assume everyone is fine.
My name is Phyllis, more recently known as Dr. Ying. I am a newly-minted family medicine resident and I love my job. Within these pages, I hope to share with you some of the highs and lows of residency, along with a snapshot of the breadth of patients and disease that I see as a family med doc.
I remember ranting to a friend one night about the terminology, lingo and semantics that run through medicine. When I started studying medicine, I found the language fascinating. Most physicians seem to appreciate the language of medicine because truly understanding it is proof that after years of studying, working, and putting nose to grindstone, you made it in to the exclusive club that utilizes this jargon.
Twenty minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Fifteen beats per minute. Seven nurses. Five doctors. Three paramedics. Two anesthesiologists. One transcriber and me. And then the eerie silence of the trauma room as the death was called.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall that single defining moment or person that sends you on the path you’re meant to take in life. I was fortunate in that I found that experience halfway through my undergraduate career at the University of California, Davis. I had recently lost my grandmother — although I’d wanted to help, all I’d been able to do at the hospital was translate for her. That overwhelming sense of helplessness I felt due to my lack of medical knowledge fueled my desire to help and serve others as a physician.