Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tales from Residency: Ultimate scut

One day during residency on an inpatient rotation, my attending came into my office, "Hey Fizzy, would you mind doing some scut for me?"

He always phrased it like that, which drove me crazy. If you want me to do something on my patient, just tell me what it is. That's the job of a resident. I actually never minded scutwork that much.

But instead of saying all this, I said, "Sure."

"So remember Mr. Jones?" the attending said.

"Um no," I said. "He must have been a patient before I was on service."

"Oh," my attending said. "Well, I need you to call this gym where he wants to get physical therapy, write a prescription for the therapy, and figure out how to send it to them."

I can't say I never did this before, but I REALLY hated it when attendings asked me to write prescriptions for patients who I'd never met, that I didn't know anything about. There was one attending who possibly didn't know how to write orders or something, because whenever we'd be in clinic and the attending would get a note saying some patient he'd seen needed, say, an MRI, he'd hand the note to whatever resident was standing next to him and say, "Order this." I think it's a little unethical.

Therefore, I wasn't thrilled about this particular little piece of scut on a patient I didn't even know. I talked to the social worker about it to try to figure out how to get the prescription over to the therapy place and I apologized for my lack of knowledge, "I don't know this patient at all."

"You're writing a therapy prescription for a patient you never met?" the social worker asked me incredulously. "Wow, that's kind of awkward."


The kicker was that after spending about thirty minutes working on this, it turned out the patient had met all his therapy goals and didn't need the prescription after all. I think that was the day I solved the mystery of why my attending was at work till 9PM every night.


  1. But I love having a doc with residents seeing one of my patients. That means when I truly need someone, they can send you when they are unwilling to come themselves.
    And when you come without bitterness and are cheerful about getting the scut duty of dealing with family your attending refuses to? Trust me, that gets noticed. And you get mad respect from Nursing because of it.

  2. Most of the attendings at my residency have absolutely no idea how to get stuff done. It's pretty comical, but mostly annoying.