Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weekly Whine

Man, I love doing this Weekly Whine. I could do this every day and never run out of things to complain about. Every hour, maybe.

Today I'm going to relate a story from my intern year that I'm still pissed off about, all these years later:

Midway through my intern year, I had a co-intern on wards named Dana. By some fluke, Dana ended up with a larger census than me at some point. This happens from time to time, despite the fact that we admitted roughly the same number of patients (in fact, I think I had admitted more).

On a short call day, I had two patients and Dana had four. There were two patients to distribute on short call, so being the nice, kind, giving, caring person I was, I immediately volunteered to take the patient who was more complicated and whose orders hadn't been written yet. But as it turned out, that more complicated patient got discharged the same day (who knew??). And I discharged another patient while Dana kept all of hers.

Therefore, through no fault of my own, on pre-call day, Dana had five patients and I had one.

While we were in the elevator that day, Dana turned to me and said, "You know, I'm really disappointed in you. You should have offered to take both short call patients yesterday. That's what I would have done."

I was SHOCKED. I had been working my ass off like everyone else and the second my service got a little lighter, I was supposed to VOLUNTEER to take on more work? It wasn't like my resident or attending had asked me to take both patients and I refused. And how the hell was I supposed to know my sicker patient would get discharged while hers would stay?

But of course, I felt really bad about it. I apologized and then Dana apologized, and said she was just stressed out and residency was turning her into a bitch.

Still, things were kind of awkward after that.

Anyway, fast forward to several months later, the last wards rotation of my intern year:

My co-intern this time was a pretty little transitional intern named Stephanie, who was going into dermatology. (As you know, all the best people end up doing dermatology, right? Because you can totally match in that without being a super competitive gunner.) Anyway, I was "warned" about Stephanie months before, but she seemed SO sweet that I was looking forward to having a rotation with her. Stupid me.

I could spend a few more paragraphs whining about Stephanie's many issues, but I'll spare you. Let's fast forward again to the relevant issue: our program had started a new system where the interns would split the long call. One of us would admit for half the night (the early person) and one for the other half (the late person).

This system didn't work so well for me and Stephanie. Through some trickery and fancy city talk, she managed to make me the late person on every single weekend call, which is worse because you don't cap on weekends. When I attempted to complain, she made me feel like I was being a bitch so I quickly backed down (me = wuss). But really, the main reason it didn't work well was because Stephanie was "slow as ass" (my senior resident's words, not mine, but I thought it was very eloquent and repeated it frequently).

Anyway, on our second call, I was the early intern and capped at five admissions. She admitted two. Post-call, I had nine patients and she had three.

This was a little uneven, so my attending and resident suggested we even things out on the short call. It was totally their idea, you guys! Not mine! But Stephanie didn't like it one bit when they told her.

When the attending and resident were out of sight, Stephanie pulled me aside and said she "needed to talk to" me.

I won't get into specifics, but the gist of the conversation was: "I was really excited to start this last medicine rotation but now you've ruined it."

It was a little funny, because she disguised the whole thing as a conversation about how I was very negative about the rotation and how she felt I complained too much (definitely true, but who doesn't??), but what it really came down to was that she wanted us to take the same number of patients on short call the next day. She kept saying, "What's the difference?" If there's no difference, then why was she complaining about it?

I told her that the attending wanted it this way, the resident wanted it this way, and even the new resident starting on Thursday heard about the situation and wanted it this way. Also, I had clinic all afternoon and she didn't (transitional interns didn't have clinics). Even with more admissions than me, she would probably go home well before me.

But she insisted on going through all the patients and pointing out that if there were three admissions and I took none, there was a very slight chance she might have one more patient than me the next day.

I found the whole thing really ironic. It was the complete opposite of the situation with Dana, yet again I was the one getting yelled at. Except in this situation, Stephanie was not only not selflessly volunteering to help even out the distribution, she was actually refusing when the resident asked her.

So basically, this was the situation:

If I had less patients and I didn't offer to take extra patients, the other intern got angry at me.

If I had more patients and the other intern had to take extra patients, the other intern got angry at me.

See how interns treat each other? I was pretty disgusted with her and disgusted with my life.

Anyway, the upshot was, I thought it over, discussed it with another intern, and decided to be the bigger person and split the short call admissions.

I left a message on Stephanie's pager, saying that I would do this. I ran into her the next morning and we had the following conversation:

Me: "Did you get the message I left for you?"

Stephanie: "Yes, I did."

Me: "Okay, so that's better for you, right?"

Stephanie: "Well, let's see how many we get."

No "thank you very much." Just a very snooty "let's see how many we get." Would it kill anyone to say thank you? How difficult is it?

Well, at least my resident thanked me. I get the feeling that she had received quite an earful from Stephanie as well.


  1. This is why I'm sort of scared of intern year... that girl reminds me of a couple of my classmates.

  2. Ugh. Ditto to what C said. I can already picture the fights I'm going to have with some of my classmates down the road when this happens.


  3. Heh. The derm residents I've met all seemed outwardly very nice, but all the people I've personally known well who ended up specializing in derm were totally horrible people.

  4. Do you mean that their kindness was only "skin-deep?" :).

    Thank you I'll be here all day.

  5. Outwardly, to people in authority, derm residents are perfect. Of my classmates who have went/are going into derm, I can think of only one who I have not found to be an intensely irritating, hypercompetitive ass-kisser. The one I do like is a gunner also, but I've never had to rotate with her and she works her ass off, so at least there's that.

    My mentor is married to a derm attending, and judging by my 1 minute interaction with her, it's not like they grow out of this, either.

  6. Wow. It's amazing to me how little responsibility people are willing to take for themselves. Anything they can do to get out of expending energy and avoid responsibility. It probably took just as much energy to complain about the tasks as it would have to actually do them.

  7. The only person I know in my program who wants to do derm failed finals last year and had to re-write. And she fake tans constantly. In fact, her FB quote is "I tan, therefore I am".

    She has giant implants though, so she probably will go far.

  8. OMDG: If I hadn't done that rotation with Stephanie at the very end, I would have surely finished internship thinking of her as a very nice person.

    HavenNyx: I can't exactly throw stones because the only difference between me and them is that I just probably wouldn't have had the nerve to confront someone like that. I would just go home and complain to my friends/husband/blog.

    ABB: Yeah, why are derm girls so hot?

  9. It's the law of the universe.

    Just like dental assistants and Air Singapore flight attendants: always hot.

  10. It's so common that it would take folks less time to DO their share than bitch about it... happens everywhere. LOVE your blog.

  11. This post makes me want to slap Stephanie! Some people are so ungrateful. Props for being the bigger person and doing something nice for her anyway!