Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shift Work

I was amazed to learn that in one month, a full-time emergency medicine physician works about 10 shifts of 8-12 hours each. That hardly seems fitting for a 6-digit salary.

After four back-to-back 12 hour shifts at Seattle's Level 1 trauma center, I think I understand what's going on here. Half a week at Harborview's ER kicked the crap out of me! Here are some relevant random statistics from my four day marathon:
  • 1 showdown of thumb vs. nail
  • 11 IV placements (15 attempts)
  • 3 rectal exams
  • 10 hours on Metro buses
  • 7 rainbow series (fresh sticks, not from IV access)
  • 17 log rolls
  • 2.5: number of hours extra I slept on my day off
  • 4 admissions
  • 13 hot dogs eaten
  • 3: number of times I checked my email
  • 1 shoulder reduction
  • 1 patient departure against medical advice
  • 5 assaults
  • 2 codes
  • 8 pounds lost
  • 4 drug seekers
  • 1 call to a friend for moral support
  • 5 mistakes (that I know of)
  • 0 patients signed-out
  • 2 injured firemen
  • 3 interpreters
  • 2 times I wished I could go home
  • 5 times I wished I was still at the hospital
  • 21 clothing fibers removed from wounds
  • 5 digital nerve blocks
  • 2 abscesses drained
  • 3 patients seen on the street after I treated them
  • 10 minutes: the amount of time I felt in control
  • 4 injuries involving balls
  • 2 radial artery blood gas samples
  • 2700 calories eaten per day (approximate)
  • 5 different running lists of what I've experienced
Shifts in the ER are tiring. And I was the primary caregiver only for 'simple' patients, doing 'easy' procedures. (We participate in trauma arrivals.) On my feet for 12 hours, forgetting to eat, drink, pee... I suppose that getting used to this environment will involve better control and awareness of bodily needs. In the mean time, I've got some reading to do. 14 more shifts for me this month.

By the way, others are currently blogging about time in the Harborview ED. Check out Constructive Procrastination. Noel is my diametric opposite in terms of shifts: he is medicine nights and I am surgery days. That doesn't keep us from feeling some of the same things about the rotation.

1 comment:

Noel Hastings said...

I like your list! I wish I had the forethought to keep track of some digits in a similar manner... Your IV accuracy is very good young Padawan learner...