Sunday, September 21, 2014

lessons from the hospital

This past month, I've been on my ICU rotation.  My favorite physician at our school is the preceptor and every week, I've learned some things that apply both in and out of the hospital.

1. Take the time to dive into backstory. Although there are universal elements to health and biology and medications, each individual's experience is different. If someone has a long term addiction or lives alone without a car, it won't matter if they're prescribed the right medications. 

2. Appreciate protocols but don't let them make you complacent. There are a lot of formulas for success, for minimizing errors. One thing we learned was that while it helps to have a structured plan for anything, following something without thinking about it can make someone too comfortable. 

3.  There's always more than what meets the eye. We see patients, in their rooms, dealing with some unfortunate circumstances. But like everyone else, they have stories that transcend their hospital stay. Sometimes I forget about that idea when I leave the hospital. I had a rough day today and went to the grocery store after work. The cashier's kindness almost took my breath away. She didn't realize the impact she had by taking a few extra seconds to make conversation and wish me the best.

4. It always helps to put yourself in someone else's shoes. I may discuss and write out the next best tests for each patient, but does that mean I really know what they entail? What if someone is scared about sitting in the MRI machine? Or uncomfortable with the idea of a lung biopsy? I may have checked on someone the day after an abdominal surgery, but does that mean I truly understand what type of pain they're in?

While the scientific knowledge from the past several years has stretched my mind, the art of medicine has taught me a lot about my limitations and hopes.

Has your work taught you lessons that helped you in other facets of your life? 


  1. Most of those boil down to being aware at all times. Not all situations fit neatly in a box!

  2. Saumya, you are already such a gifted healer. The world is in need of many more like you. And as to what I great lesson was never to judge a child by their parents, or siblings, or anything else. Each person is unique.

  3. The world needs compassionate doctors. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a medical professional who takes the time.
    Good thoughts.

  4. Saumya, A friend told me about a book "doctored' written by an PIO doctor that's supposedly the talk of the town. I hope you carry this energy and enthusiasm about caring for patients throughout your life... God bless :)

  5. These are all such good lessons!! I just noticed your blurb "passionate about narrative medicine" - what is that?

    I have learned a few life lessons from my field (which is geography/cartography). One is that nothing can ever really be proven. There is always another thing that we haven't thought yet to test for or account for.

    1. Oooh, I love your lessons, Margo! And that is SO cool that you studied cartography. You should do a post on that! Narrative medicine is a new field that tries to improve patient care through discussions of narratives. It also incorporates nonfiction, fiction, and poetry to get a better idea of the human condition.