Every morning for the past 2 weeks I would log on to the EMR and check in on the charts of several patients to see if there was a change in status: death or discharge. I had never actually met or seen any of them. I never woke them up in the early morning for pre-rounding, I never wrote notes or presented on them, but somehow they felt like my patients.
And so when I would review their charts in the morning only to find EPIC telling me “you are now entering the chart of a deceased patient”, my heart would sink for a moment. I would then enter the word “dead” into a spreadsheet, just another addition to over 6,000 items of data collected -- I could not feel further apart from my patients. Somewhere in the space of suffocating in the shroud of feeling useless and disconnected from my former reality of caring for patients in the hospital, I came upon an entirely unexpected realization. Only just last night I had been facetiming with several members of my research team, one of them wearing a T-shirt recounting experiences from his day on service in the hospital, the other wearing a hoodie and attending to his 2-year old daughter. It was not too long ago that one of them was my small group preceptor during BHD and the other was my preceptor for med home. Back then, I referred to them by their formal titles. They wore shirts and ties, they had power over my grades. They felt distant, above me. It was kind of like when I was back in elementary school and I had no conception that my teachers had real lives outside of school. But now I was calling my former “superiors” by their first names, I was texting them late at night with questions, I was peering into their private homes. And while they would go to the hospital during the day to attend to very sick patients, I would be on my computer endlessly collecting and analyzing data to eventually be able inform other members of the medical community.
For the first time in medical school, I actually felt like part of a team.
- Fourth year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons