Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On The Brink

I have the four extra years of education.
I have the diploma.
I have a new stethoscope.
I have the knee-length white coats.

In two days I am going to walk into a patient's room and introduce myself as "Emily Riegel, your doctor."

Like I mentioned for the photo above, there was no microchip slipped into our rbains at any point during the graduation week events, nor since then at the endlessly boring days of orientation I've been attending. In fact, I am really starting to think there will be no microchip.

What I am looking at instead is a huge shelf of books, filled with details of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, all the secrets of the inner workings of the human organism. I think at some point, much of that information was supposed to become lodged in my brain, at a place readily accessible for future use.

The problem is, I'm not so sure where exactly it is in my brain, nor if it was ever actually firmly lodged there in the first place.

Come Saturday, though, I'm being entrusted with people's well being...or as well as their being is while they are in the medical ICU at the Kansas City VA.

Of course I've been given the "help is never more than a phone call away," and "you won't be allowed to do anything unless you are comfortable doing it," and even better, "you're just the intern, no one expects much of you the first few months."

Despite all the reassurances and good advice we've all been given, there are worries in my mind that just can't be addressed until I am in the situations that I actually worry about. Whether it's how I'm going to stay awake to drive home after being up all night at the hospital, or what I'm going to tell the nurse to do when she tells me that my patient has a fever, or how I'll react when I have a patient die for the first just have to get through those things yourself in order to know how you'll handle them. Even then, you know the next time will be different, or better, or worse.

This is going to be a whole new adventure.

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