Monday, June 4, 2007


I start my surgical rotation July 2nd. To prepare for this, I have begun the following regimen:

  1. I have my husband wake me up at random intervals throughout the night, and if I do not immediately and accurately recite the Gettysburg Address, he beats me with a sock full of nickels.
  2. Sometimes, when I get out of my car, I slam my fingers in the door on purpose.
  3. I’m slowly weaning myself off of coffee so that when I start it will be potent enough to keep me conscious.
  4. I’m reading some of the study books for the surgical rotation.

It’s that last one that is really the problem. You see, doctors record patient information in the form of “notes”, and since doctors are usually too busy to even sign their full name (ever noticed that if your doctor’s name is, say, William Slatherington, his signature looks like Wie Saaa?), they have invented a lot of shorthand to write these notes. As a medical student I need to be able to (1) read, (2) understand, and (3) write this medical shorthand. So far this is not going very well, in the same way that the maiden voyage of the Titanic did not go very well.

How bad can it be? Well, friend, allow me to slide a little taste of confusion your way, in the form of this ACTUAL EXCERPT which I totally swear I am not making up. Seriously, I am copying this verbatim.

55 yo WM admitted for perforated PU, HD#3, POD#2 s/p Graham patch, NPO, abx=Ancef D#1/5, Flagyl D#1/5, central line D#1

D5 ½ NS @ 80cc/hr, JP output->15cc-12 hr total

PE: Gen: WD/WN male in NAD, A&O x 3.

CV: RRR, nl S1/S2, no M/R/G

Chest: CTAB, no W/R/R

Fantastic!!! Now, if you are a layperson, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that since I have had two years of medical education that I can understand at least part of that mess. Allow me to correct you. My general reaction to the above string of letters and numbers is an abbreviation that I do know, one that you may be familiar with: WTF?

It’s kind of like reading personal ads from hell. I am slightly heartened that I managed to correctly guess what about three of the above letter strings stood for. Three. After two flippin’ years of medical school. Other than that it looks like one of the subway signs in New York.

I just wanted to fill you in on how things are going (Great! Just great! Haha!), and now, if you don’t mind, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled panic attack which was already in progress.

1 comment:

docmama said...

So, I start OB on July 2 and so far my coping strategy is to pretty much pretend it's not happening.
I mean, I'm SO VERY EXCITED to be getting back to med school, but totally unprepared for actually having to remember and memorize all that stuff again!!

I'm all: 'dude, i've had a baby - and the midwife even let me pull her out myself. so yeah, i can deliver my own baby, which must mean i'm TOTALLY ready for my 3rd year OB rotation'
(I can almost hear the residents laughing maniacally at what they're going to do to me...)

I did get my "report to X room at X time on July 2" email the other day, which was kind of a reality check since it also said that I'll probably have to take call on my first day - hm. I think I'll go back to my ignorant bliss now for another three or four days.