What drives you into a particular field of medicine? Is it the love of a field, external influences such as family or friends, power and prestige within the medical community itself…money? Or, perhaps, it’s the desire to see instant results, receive gratification through well anticipated outcomes with a good resolution, the ability to think on your feet regarding the physiological, pharmacological, and pathological issues at present?
For me it is the latter and I know that Anesthesiology is certainly the fit for me. I have LOVED my time at my hospital during these short 7 days. I find myself seeking out the larger, more complex cases in order to see what steps are needed to navigate a successful anesthetic case. A patient waking up on time, with well-controlled pain, who offers their thanks (even if they won’t remember it when they leave) has been everything that I wanted out of medicine. Anesthesia is by far more complex than I’d ever originally thought and requires constant vigilance and quick thinking (even if you don't appreciate it on the other side of the curtain).
My brain is being challenged daily. I’m mentally exhausted at the end of some days because of the thought process involved when I run a case with guidance. Pimp sessions are more likely than not to leave me completely unable to answer - something I'm not fond of, but it leads to learning and motivation to understand the concepts behind the subject. This has not always been the case with many rotations I underwent last year.
I’ve also found the easy going and fun nature of most of the Anesthesiologists and CRNA’s I work with very influential towards this learning and it has prodded me to be ready for the next day. It has been extremely rewarding to take this elective and I can’t wait for the level 1 trauma centers where I will spend 2 months as away rotations.
Now, despite all of these things, I must say that it’s not been all roses. I’ve had some issues here and there, some intubations that didn’t go as well as I’d have liked and such. Bag-masking someone is my personal hell. I can’t do it very well and I always look like a fool when trying – since I invariably fail miserably when an attending is in the room.
Today I was forced to mask an obese patient for 20 minutes, on a paralyzing agent, in order to learn how to do it effectively. I was keeping this person alive purely by my ability to keep a good seal and keep oxygen flowing into their lungs. By the end my forearm muscles were screaming, but I was getting better. My favorite part? The attending asking what I wanted to do when I was hurting:
Attending: “So, what would you do?”
MSG: “I could either change hands and cross over myself…”
Attending: just looking at me.
MSG: “Or…I could suck it up and keep going.”
Attending: “Hey, we’re in Anesthesia. There’s no egos here.”
MSG: “Ummm, ask...for...some...help?”
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Cool.