My Life As A Third Year Medical Student

My life as a third year medical student

(October, 1997)

4:50 am. (wednesday) After about 6 hours of sleep I get up, shower, change, eat breakfast and drive to the hospital. It is still dark out and I can see the stars as I drive.

6:00 am. I arrive at the hospital, round on my patients, talk to them, check out how they did the previous day, and write all of this in their charts.

7:00 am. I go downstairs for rounds where we all discuss the patients, what diseases they had, what surgeries they had, how they are doing, and what the plan is for them for the day.

8:00 am. I head over to the ambulatory surgery facility to watch some surgical gynecologic procedures such as a hysteroscopy and endometrial ablation.

10:30 am. I have a litte bit of time after the case ended and I head over to the library to read for a little bit. I then head over to the cafeteria and get myself some lunch to go and I walk 10 minutes to get to my lecture.

12:00 pm. I have an hour lecture about obstetrical complications or something along those lines.

1:00 pm. I go back to the main hospital where I am already late and a surgery has already started. I scrub in and watch a total hysterectomy which is slightly complicated and takes longer than was expected.

4:30 pm. The OR case ended and I lie down for 15 minutes before I have to head upstairs to the labor and delivery area to prepare for a long night.

5:00 pm. I check into labor and delivery and start meeting patients who are probably going to be delivering babies tonight. I go back and forth between many patients, chatting with them, checking on their vital signs, the baby's vitals, etc. I also go to the triage area where people are just arriving and have to be examined to determine whether they should be admitted to the hospital with real labor or sent home due to false labor. At some point I eat my dinner, re-heated pasta, and then I head straight back to see what's been going on.

7:30 pm. I run back to the main area of the hospital to do a post-operative check on the patient who had surgery today and make sure that she has no problems after her surgery.

8:00 pm. I go back to labor and delivery, and spend time trying to communicate with a woman in labor who only speaks french. I spend the rest of the night running back and forth between different delivery rooms helping the doctors deliver babies. People are delivering babies and arriving at the hospital all night long. In moments that it gets quiet I spend time working on researching information for a talk I have to give on "complications of pregancy."

2:30 am. A nurse brings in some lasagna, pasta salad, and cakes for all of us to eat. I partake in the free food even though I wasn't really hungry. During the night I manage to get one 40 minute nap and three separate 15 minute naps.

5:50 am. (thursday) My shift with labor and delivery is basically done so I just leave and head straight back to the other area of the hospital to check up on my post-surgical patients again and write their progress notes.

7:00 am. I had downstairs for rounds again. We pretty much do the same thing we did 24 hours ago, going over all of the patients.

8:00 am. We all head over to a lecture now for 2 hours of conference, one hour of which included a morbidity and mortality conference where we go over problems that occur with the management of patients. At this point I am completely exhausted and sitting in a darkened lecture room causes me to fall in and out of sleep the whole time.

10:00 am. I head straight over to another lecture room where I have to participate in a clinical case conference and actively answer questions even though my brain is asleep.

11:20 am. The conference ended and I head straight to a call room to try to get some sleep. However a friend of mine was there so I talked to him for a little while.

12:00 pm. I headed back to another lecture hall for an hour and fifteen minute talk on high-risk obstetrical patients.

1:20 pm. The lecture ended and I gathered up my things from around the hospital and drove home.

2:00 pm. I arrive home, about 31 hours after I left. I go immediately to sleep.

6:00 pm. I wake up, eat dinner, watch some tv, shower, check e-mail, etc.

10:15 pm. I go to sleep, since I have to wake up around 4:50 am again on friday.

I have to repeat these on-call nights/days every sixth day.