The hospital is a stage and rounding is the show.
It’s a daily performance, a dance of sorts, that takes place each morning on the floors. The performers congregate outside a patient room. The show begins with the ring of a page, the first of the morning. In unison, all parties move their hands to their waists and look down, a dramatic opening to the first act.
In come the two stars of the show: a senior resident with his hands around a computer-on-wheels, twirling it around the unit like a powerless dance partner, and an attending physician who silently nods his head to the beat of some secret rhythm. Behind the scenes are us interns, the extras whose continued page-hand-waist gyrations and desperate spewings of overnight events provide the beat to which the scene is set.
The clock ticks like a metronome, keeping time as we dance through our morning.
A much-anticipated intermission comes at noon. We flee the watchful eyes of the floor and find refuge within the walls of our workroom to prepare for act two. The stage lights come back on too soon and the ring of a phone ends the short-lived silence. The dancing begins, this time from our chairs. Instead of doing the sprinkler, we pick up the telephone. Instead of pushing a shopping cart, we are typing frantically. Instead of screwing in the lightbulb, we are putting our heads in our hands for a moment of silence before the next round of chimes.
The clock ticks like a metronome, keeping time as we dance through our afternoon.
Evening finally comes and the curtains fall to mark the closing of the show. The ring of my pager becomes the soundtrack to somebody else’s night. I walk home in silence. I warm up some dinner and crawl into bed, hoping to have the energy to perform my imaginary dance on the hospital stage again tomorrow. And again the next day.
Like a broken record, waiting for someone to change the song.