Healer, Hear Thyself, Part 2

| Vienna, Austria | Working | February 7, 2013

(I’ve just started medical school and am taking an elective course for organ transplantation where we got to see the patients and help with the surgeries. It’s my first day at the hospital. Two older colleagues and me are allowed to watch a renal biopsy performed by the senior physician. She’s looking at the tissue from the biopsy when she turns to me.)

Senior Physician: “Oh no, that doesn’t look too good… quickly!”

(The senior physician writes a few numbers on a piece of paper, puts it in my hand and shoves me out the door which she immediately shuts behind me. I’m left standing in the hallway not knowing what to do, so I decide to ask a nearby nurse.)

Me: “Hello! I’m a med student and [senior physician] just gave this to me. Could you please tell me what I should do?”

Nurse: *examines the paper* “What is this? No, sorry, I can’t help you. Hasn’t she given you any instructions?”

Me: “No, just this—”

(Suddenly, the door bursts open and the senior physician jumps out of the biopsy room, snatches the numbers from the nurse’s hands, and stomps into the office. I’m curious as to what I should have been doing, so I follow right behind her. In her office, she curses and picks up her phone. She requests a bed and gives additional instructions for a procedure, half of which I neither catch nor understand.)

Senior Physician: *hangs up and turns to me*

Me: “So, what was—”

Senior Physician: “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”

Me: “What? I—”

Senior Physician: “YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED THAT NUMBER AND PREPARED [procedure]!”

Me: “I didn’t know it was—”

Senior Physician: “THIS IS IMPORTANT! YOU CAN’T JUST TREAT PATIENTS LIKE THIS! THIS IS SERIOUS! THAT PATIENT NEEDS [procedure] AND [surgery] IMMEDIATELY!”

Me: *near tears* “But I—”

Senior Physician: “AND DON’T JUST COME RUNNING TO THE NURSES TO HAVE A CRY ON THEIR SHOULDER!”

Me: “No, I was—”

Senior Physician: “WITH THAT ATTITUDE, YOU WILL NEVER—”

(Suddenly, the nurse I talked to earlier steps in.)

Nurse: “How can you talk to her like this? This is her first year! How should she know what all this is about if you never explain it to her?!”

(The doctor shuts up on the spot and I leave the ward with the nurse thanking her. I later talk to my colleagues and they tell me they had no idea what was going on either. Luckily, I never had to go back there and I no longer want to be a surgeon.)

 

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