When Did I Feel Like a Doctor?


PalMD over at The White Coat Underground recently asked ‘when did you really feel like a doctor?’  Interesting question that I could answer in a number of ways.

While I didn’t know it at the time, I felt like a doctor around 4 am during my first night on call.  I was an intern on the hematology ward at Texas Children’s Hospital.  I was fresh out of medical school, I had chosen a residency known for its mind-boggling volume, and the kids were really sick.  I had hit a point where I simply couldn’t keep up with what was in front of me.  I stole away into the 6th floor stairwell at Children’s Abercrombie building, put my face into my hands and began to cry.

My first call night was a metaphor for my career.

I had no idea at the time that the idea of simply keeping up would be a theme that would follow me through my training and into my day-to-day work.

While I can’t remember the last time I cried at the hospital I continue to struggle with input.  I work to keep up with inbound information and professional social dialog.  How I handle information or how I appear to handle it defines me as a physician.  Harnessing this attention crash through technology will represent a major defining moment for the next generation of physicians.