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See one, do one, teach one.

December 6, 2012

Your doctor or surgeon knows what they are doing right?  OK let’s take that as a given for the sake of argument.  How did he/she get that way?  Doctors are not born, they are made.  They are made largely in large academic medical centers, otherwise known as “teaching hospitals”.  Doing a Residency means that a new doctor who has just graduated from medical school learns how to be an actual doctor, not a medical student.  We call them residents because back in the old days these doctors actually lived in the hospital and cared for the patients there pretty much all the time.  To learn how to be a doctor requires patience.  And Patients.  You can only learn so much in a book or on a dummy.

This is why when you have surgery at a teaching hospital you will be taken care of in part by residents.  Trainees if you want to put it unpleasantly.  Residents are closely supervised.  They have much less autonomy than they used to, for sure.  But they have to do things to learn how to do things.  For instance, to have surgery you have to get an intravenous line, an IV.  It’s one of the first things new residents learn and they’re very eager to gain this skill.  Glaring, wincing, saying “they didn’t have any trouble last time” is not helpful.  Asking the attending “you’re going to be doing this right?” is something you probably should have discussed in the office ahead of time. 

I understand patient’s concerns, I do.  When I was in the hospital with my third child a nursing student started my IV.  I have huge veins.  She missed.  That’s OK.  If I had screamed and cried and yelled it would have made her more nervous and she might have missed again.  She did fine the second time.  When I got my epidural I was perfectly happy to have a resident put it in because I know the resident had probably done 10 other epidurals that day and the procedure was fresh in their heads.  If I had insisted on an attending I might have had someone who hasn’t done it in a week.  But again, there’s always a back up, senior person to look to if the resident has trouble.

If you absolutely do not want trainees working on you, that’s fine.  No problem.  Go to an hospital that doesn’t have residents.  Any community hospital or hospital not associated with a medical school will be fine.  Ask first.  No one will be insulted.


From → Healthcare

One Comment
  1. Nice blog. I’ll have to cite you and add you to my blogroll.

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