The trail d'interview has taken some time off, at least for the next couple weeks. Thank God. I have never had to sleep in an airport – ever - until interview time began. I can now say that one of the more uncomfortable, annoying, and stupefying processes I’ve experienced is being stuck in an airport for 24+ hours. I really wish those seats could be converted into something you could recline on. Makes sense…I think.
Anyway, while out at other hospitals of various cities I’ve noticed a trend. You can always tell who the medical students, nurses, residents, and attendings are in the hospital. Just a little musing of mine, done at 3am while wishing to fall asleep on a very uncomfortable airport chair, but I thought that some of the non-med people might enjoy knowing how to tell the difference:
Medical Student: Of course, as if you required any other method to identify the future of medicine (laugh now…not so funny when they’re actually docs), the med studs are easily identified wearing the traditional, ass-enlarging, short white coats – stuffed full of books, tools of unimportance, and papers. They go about their business, eyeing everyone, but taking care to not be seen staring at particular individuals. If you needed anything more to identify the one person who has no authority over your care whatsoever we’d have to put an “I’m with stupid shirt” underneath the coat. The short coat has never and will never look good. On anyone. Often med students are seen as you are first admitted, getting the long and very detailed H&P in a haphazard fashion. They’re also seen very early in the morning and before dinner trying to get ready for rounds – you’ll most likely be sleeping when encountering them. After that you won’t see them unless a painful or humiliating procedure is about to be performed.
Nurse: This is a bit trickier, since this is more or less a gender and floor based observation, but they often wear the “fun scrubs”. You know the kind: cartoon animals, hobby oriented, bright, multi-colored garments that, for reasons unknown to me, are reserved for the nursing profession (like a white man trying to wear urban clothing, anyone else just doesn’t look right wearing these). I’ve seen nursing students wear mono-colored, dark apparel that suddenly transforms into the “fun nurse” scrubs upon graduating. I’ve also seen nurses who wore this festive garb (at least in their older pics) who, upon entering medical school, ditched them for the more restrictive patterns of hospital issued wear. There also seems to be a proclivity towards wearing scrubs with multiple pockets in them – like the front of the shirt or all down the side of the pants. Another trait inherent to the nurse is the ability to talk about more than just medicine. They have lives, are aware of the outside world, and can make your day with their humorous, if not off-colored jokes. However, since you’re going to have more interaction with these healthcare professionals than almost anyone else, you’d have to be in a coma to not know who the nurses are in charge of your care.
Resident: Depending on the degree of training they’re at, residents come in multiple forms. Interns are worn out, haggard, shells of human beings. Often they carry tremendous amounts of paperwork, small books, and 3-4 pagers/ cell phones/ shackles on them at all times. Like the medical student they hold almost no power, but are in charge of a lot of your care. Very similar to medical students, they also obtain your intake H&P, do most of the procedures and embarrassing jobs, and wake you from sleep. You can identify them, if for nothing else, by the fact that they have a long white coat and a name tag with an MD or DO following their name – often with a deer in the headlights look 24/7. Having survived the intern year, residents are more confident appearing, have less and less crap occupying their pockets, and see you less. If they see you in morning, you’ve already been awakened by a lower member of the team. They can also be identified by their position when a large mass of white coats enters your room – the more senior residents get to follow behind “your doctor” more closely. The intern is just before the medical student…the shame.
Attending: This can be “your doctor”, the one that you’ve seen regularly as an outpatient who admitted you to the hospital or is going to cut on you and take care of that problem. This may also be someone that you’ve never met before, but is in charge of your care – albeit from a distance. They bill you, are seen the least out of everyone involved in your care, and often are the oldest of the group. When the mass of white coats enter your room, they are first – always. If they begin to talk while others are talking, everyone else shuts up or laughs at their stupid jokes. We smile as they discuss their lovely weekend and “hop to it” when they ask for anything. Beyond that, look for the wet spots on their rears as the “team” kisses their ass multiple times during the day.