Friday, March 21, 2008

Looking Over Your Shoulder

As a medical student, everything you say and do is noticed. This is important when you talk about patient information. For some, it's a reminder to not slip up in potentially evaluative settings. Others treat evaluation as an additional motivation to be your very best. A rare number of students don't care. Take for example an experience I had today:

I finished my work on Harborview's wards early today so was able to leave before the sun went down. My wife is on call tonight at the VA hospital. In my quest to be the best husband in town, I paged her to propose a dinner datein between admitting patients. She was happy to let me head over to the International District to pick up some Chinese takeout, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to sit in the hospital lobby eating delicious food with her.

When we first started our clerkships together, no one knew that we were married. Since we were both MD/PhDs, it probably seemed natural that we knew each other and chatted more than with other students. For an example, read this post from November.

One of the students from our first rotation together last fall happens to be rotating at the VA with my wife. We don't mind telling people any more, especially since we're more comfortable with both our career choices and our positions in what I've recently taken to calling the medico-educational complex. Anyway, we sat just to the side of the main entrance of Seattle's VA hospital. As I finished my minimally Americanized food, I got a strange feeling like I was being watched. Was it my wife's intern? Our classmate? When I turned around, I was surprised to see, not more than a foot from my face, this exact sight:

This very photo - larger than life - was there smirking at me. His head was about 16 inches across. Just hanging on the wall. Looking over all I was doing. Listening to every word from my mouth.

You never know who's listening to you in the hospital.

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