Tag Archive | medicine

Humanism in Medicine

They throw this phrase at the med students a lot. 

Yesterday we had a full 8 hours of mind-numbing lectures. At lunch time my friend Colby got a phone call from her mom that a cousin had passed away. She was bawling, confused, and basically needed to get the hell out of there. Our other friends and I marched her down the stairs to tell the course coordinator that she wouldn’t be at the last 4 hours of class. Easy, right? A family member dies, you leave work/school/whatever. 

The course coordinator told her that she was free to go, but since it was “just a cousin” (her exact words, I was eaves dropping) who had passed she told Colby that she would have to forfeit her points for attendance. See, if you go to every lecture for the rotation we’re on you get a free 3 points on the overall course grade. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but could easily make the difference between pass or fail. So…. cool, not only did this woman just belittle Colby’s grief she’s hanging her grade over her head.

I WAS LIVID. AND HORRIFIED. In every course there is emphasis on “teaching” us to be professional, empathetic, and compassionate towards our patients. Then why are we treated like this when we want to be actual humans??

I had a similar experience 2 years ago when one of Michael’s childhood friends passed away suddenly. I was in a required lab when he called me tell me that I needed to come to the hospital. I told the course director (big boss) that I had a critically ill friend and was leaving to be with his friends and family. I was told that I would receive zero credit for the work I had done that day. No problem, I told him, I had somewhere more important to be. 

I can understand not being able to leave if someone’s life is at stake, or you’re in the operating room, or really anything to do with patient care. What I can’t understand is being so insensitive to our lives outside of school. We recently got an email that one of the acceptable reasons to miss a day of 4th year was “death of self” and you better provide immediate notification. Real life, it’s in writing. 

This is just one more experience that will shape my future. I’ve had countless awesome role models over the last 3 years and I can already see myself modeling some of their behaviors. I’ll just add these little mishaps to the pile of things I DON’T want to be when I’m in the leadership role.

Deep thoughts for my first post in awhile! (I’m such a slacker) Look forward to some posts on Milo’s big adventures! Teaser: He goes to doggie daycare now and one time they had to lock him in a closet for bad behavior.  


My aunt and I before she got sick, celebrating my birthday at a casino! (it’s a cajun thing)

My aunt (Wanda’s sister) has been sick for about 3 years. Without getting into it, the entire family (and there are a lot of us!) have been frustrated with her care and and eager for her wounds to heal. Everyone is ready for her to get back to her old, perky self, but mostly these boys!


“Granny” with her 3 beautiful grandsons.

About a month ago enough was enough and we dragged her to our medical center. I felt like she was coming to the best hospital in the world and would surely be blown away by the kind of care that WE can provide! The hospital in her small town did not meet our expectations and her well-being completely depended on a few assertive family members.

My sweet aunt went in for a routine GI procedure Monday morning and I was excited to show off “my” hospital!

They arrived at 7:30 am for the 9:30 surgery. She didn’t go into the operating room until past 11:30. Completely understand! The previous surgery ran late, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Come 2:00 pm and we are still waiting for her to come out of recovery. When they wheeled her in she told us that she had been awake and alert for over an hour and the recovery team told her that they were just waiting for a room to open up, the room that my mom and I had been sitting in. hmmm..

Next, the doctor orders a CT scan and an upper GI. We were informed that radiology was waiting on the lab results of her kidney function to make sure she could tolerate the CT contrast. HOURS later a nurse came in to say that blood had actually never been drawn, the lab wasn’t working on anything, and the scan would be further delayed.

Despite already having an IV in both wrists the next obstacle was having a third IV placed in the crook of her arm. The nurse told us that putting the contrast into her wrists may cause the tissue to become necrotic. More pain and anxiety.

At 11:00 pm the two of them headed down to radiology where it was discovered that the IV in her arm wasn’t placed correctly and the wrist was just fine for the contrast. They then waited an hour for someone to track down “something” she was to drink for the scan, only to be told actually she didn’t need it. The whole ordeal, which we were all told would be done around 3 pm, finished at 1 am.

At 7:30 am my aunt began asking for something to eat. The doctor told her that he would put in an order for food. What she didn’t understand (and how would she?) was that she herself had to pick up the phone and order it, the doctor had just given the cafeteria PERMISSION to bring her food. Two hours later a nurse explains this process to her, but didn’t show her how to go about it, and she couldn’t figure it out herself. At that point it had been over 48 hours since her last meal.

I will say that nearly everyone we encountered was kind and very personable. A nurse who found out I was in med school even introduced me to a general surgery resident to taught me sutures! I felt like a rock star!

But miscommunications and unreasonable delays like we encountered shouldn’t happen.  I was in the room when a hospital liaison came in to speak to us and I outlined her not-so-good experience. She was very receptive to our concerns and immediately promised to relay it to the unit supervisor.

I am so proud of the medical profession and I can’t wait to be a part of it! I hope I can take these experiences and use them to better myself and make my own patient interactions a little bit better.

doctor anna

Watch out world!

Milo Fights Feline Obesity

This is Weasley. Weasley is a fat cat.

weasley collage

Like millions of American cats, Weasley leads a sedentary lifestyle. This is exaccerbated by his parents naive belief that his extra poundage is benign “fluff”.

Milo wants to help Weasley get healthy so he lets Weasley “chase” him around his apartment! In this ideal interval training, Weasley alternates between rapid sprints and lunges for toning.

What can I say? My dog is a philanthropist.

“Say Ahhh”

I saw a patient last week who didn’t have a tongue.

Pretty soon after I began my interview I noticed that this man had a severe speech impediment. (nothing gets past Dr. PP!) We were relying on hand gestures and some writing on his part to communicate. My mind was racing!

……He has a neurological deficit…. Stroke. …Brain tumor…. Acute delirium secondary to medications….. Yeah. That sounds smart…. It’s probably that…..

Me: Can you say ahh for me?

Patient: aaaaaa

Me: Say ahh and stick out your tongue please?

Patient: aaaaaa

Me: hmmmm

……. Where is his tongue?!….. Is it somewhere in this room??…… Does he have a prosthetic tongue?….. I bet those are really expensive…..I should patent prosthetic tongues and get really rich…….

Thankfully this man was unbelievably patient and eventually explained to me that he had lost his tongue following mouth and throat cancer. Everything was smooth from then on until my attending came in the room…. and asked him to say “ahh”.


Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 12.35.47 PM

A Merry Med-School Christmas

Twas the week before finals and all through the school

Students in panic and and acting like fools

Tachycardic, tachypneic, diaphoretic, too

Tests are so hard! What should we do???



Garland is hung in the lobby with care

To anatomy lab if you follow the stair


A santa hat placed on a knowledge-filled head

After tests we will spend a week in our bed


We will all settle down for a long winter’s nap

And when we awake it will be time for Step


Till then, days of studying tucked in our cube

Learning about the eustachian tube


I should probably be studying instead of making this rhyme

If I ever want hope of making a dime


So merry christmas to all!

And to all a good block week!

M is for Med school

Let’s consider this post a public service announcement. I realized a year and a half ago that quite a few people have no idea what medical school is. I would be delighted to clarify!


When I graduate from medical school I WILL NOT BE:

  • A nurse
  • An optometrist
  • A dentist
  • A physical therapist
  • A podiatrist
  • A PhD
  • A veterinarian (someone asked me this over the weekend, I swear!)


  • A person with an MD behind my name that after several more years of training will be able to practice medicine. (holla!)

In medical school you DO NOT:

  • Declare a major
  • Choose which classes you want to take


  • Study a lot
  • Cry

Another common misunderstanding (or maybe I just hang with people that haven’t been out much) is that you have to be a nurse before you can become a doctor. False!

An interesting fact? Us students wear short coats and the real doctors wear long coats. You have to “earn your stitches”. Beyond that little clue I never know how to identify who is who at the hospital….. One time I asked a fellow if she was a third year and I got glared at. And pimped for the rest of the shift.

{Pimped: Where the senior physician asks you impossible questions in rapid

succession in hopes of making you break. It adds to the crying.}


See? short = fake doctor

I really hope this has been informative! And the next time you see a bleary-eyed twenty-something in a short white coat, buy them a Starbucks.