Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weekly Whine: Under the Bus

I really hate the phrase "under the bus" as in, I "threw him under the bus." This story is the reason why:

When I was a resident, I was assigned to a clinic rotation with an attending named Dr. Brown. Usually the clinic had two residents, but about halfway through, the second resident got pulled to do something else. Therefore, I was Dr. Brown's lone resident.

Dr. Brown was very unhappy about this. He wanted the consult resident Alyssa to be pulled to cover his clinic. But the consult resident was busy doing (you'll never guess) consults. But Dr. Brown kept asking if consults were light, maybe Alyssa could help out.

I didn't particularly care. I didn't like having to deal with a pissed off attending, but I was going on vacation in a week, so... you know, whatever.

Anyway, one day I was on the phone dictating, and Dr. Brown approached me. "Where's Alyssa?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said (reportedly). And I continued dictating.

Another resident named Peter was in the room and said, "She's doing consults."

This seemed like a totally unremarkable interaction to me. But it was enough to cause Peter to go up to Alyssa behind my back and tell her that I was "throwing her under the bus" and acting like she wasn't where she was supposed to be.

Let me tell you, that was 100% not my intention. Why did I say that I didn't know where she was, rather than saying she was doing consults? I don't even entirely remember the interaction and was only reminded of it because it ended up being such a big deal, but here are a few theories:

1) Maybe I thought he was asking specifically where in the hospital she was

2) Maybe I thought she was in a meeting, because the consult resident does go to some meetings

3) I was mid-sentence in a dictation and didn't want to get involved in a huge discussion

4) Maybe I didn't realize that the weight of the universe rested on my answer

It's a little sad because I really liked Alyssa. There were so few residents with kids and she was one of them, and even though she realized (I hope) that I didn't mean to "throw her under the bus," the drama that resulted from this situation put a permanent wedge in our friendship.

Immediately after, I approached Peter about having gone behind my back to talk to Alyssa. He said that saying "I don't know" wasn't resident-friendly. You ALWAYS cover for residents when attendings ask where they are. By not doing so, I wasn't a team player.

Except there was one recent time when I told Peter quietly that I had a doctor's appointment at 4:30 and even though it should be no problem since our last patient was at 2, I was wondering if it somehow came down to the wire, if he'd mind seeing the last patient that day. Peter said, "No problem!" Then he immediately went to Dr. Brown and told him I had a doctor's appointment and had to leave early.

I asked Peter if he had a problem with me, if he thought I was a slacker or something, and that's why he went behind my back. He said he didn't and I was crying too hard to press him and start naming other incidents where he seemed like he was out to get me.

Peter and I didn't speak for a long time after that. I was really angry at him and I probably always will be. I think Alyssa also realized he was kind of an ass when he asked her why she was so tired because she'd just come back from vacation (i.e. maternity leave).


  1. None of this would be an issue if these attendings, and the medical hierarchy in general, cared about actually getting things done rather than superficially looking like a "good resident."

  2. Look on the bright side. Maybe Peter is now the bitch for a guy named Rufus, who he met while serving time for Medicare fraud.

  3. Grumpy: No, he got into a top fellowship and is doing really well. No justice.

  4. I was wondering at what point in the story you were going to conclude that Peter was the problem, not the attending, and not the fact that you said, "I don't know."

    What a toolbox.

  5. Dr. Grumpy, MY Rufus (a sweet but stupid tuxedo kitty) would never stoop to consorting with the likes of "Peter".

    Seriously, there are way to many people out there making trouble for others just to make themselves look better in the eyes of authority and it is a darn shame that they don't reap their just rewards more often. The "Peter" in my class didn't get a top fellowship and live happily ever after - he got a top fellowship, messed it up royally and did NOT live happily ever after...

    So at least there is a LITTLE justice in the world.