Happy Sunday everyone!!
I hope you all had an exciting weekend – or at least more so than me. Let’s just say I did NOT get my share of vitamin D these last couple of days.
So while I was inside admitting patients from the ER, I was also doing something else. I was writing my personal statement. THEY ARE THE WORST.
If you guys remember, when I first introduced myself, I mentioned that I was applying to fellowship this year. The masochist that I am, I’ve decided to apply to pulmonary/critical care. Why would I choose pulm/crit? Why would I choose a field with murderous hours and constant pages? Why would I choose a field that requires not just a knowledge of pulmonology or critical care but an understanding of the human body at its core?
Because pulm/crit is the best subspecialty there is and nothing else measures up.
Ok ok don’t get me wrong, all the specialties are important. Truly they are. I just happen to like pulm/crit the best :p
It took me FOREVER (it is now 1 AM!!!!) but I finally finished the personal statement (PS). I can promise I said more than ‘Pulm/crit is the best subspecialty ever!!!’ I would share the PS with you all but it is still pretty rough and not ready for public consumption. In that case, I thought I would talk a little bit about pulm/crit and what I love about it.
In all reality, pulm/crit gets an unfair rep. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a general opinion you work long hours without much return (aka the green stuff). Plus it’s damn hard.
There will be soooo many days when you want to do the exact same thing. Run and never look back. And you’ll hear it from a lot of people – that if you want to subspecialize, there are so many other choices with a cushy salary and better lifestyle. But if you love it the way I do, you’ll never be happy doing anything else. Plus I’ve found there’s not as many female pulm/crit docs out there and to that, I say – who run the world?
So, I’ve compiled a list of characteristics that I think define a pulm/crit doc. If you’ve got these/this is what you envision yourself doing, this just might be the field for you. Welcome to the world of CXRs, PFTs and SIRS – wait I mean SOFA. I should have just said welcome to the world of acronyms but then again you knew that when you became an MD/DO :p
Characteristics of a pulm/crit physician:
- They like to be busy. Whether it’s on the floors or in the ICU, there’s usually very little downtime.
- They like the science behind it all. Whether or not we want to admit, that one pathway out of the hundreds you learned in biochem comes back to bite you in pulm/crit. If you slept through physiology in med school, this may not be the field for you.
- They like internal medicine. Some specialties tend to be so organ-specific, they tend to lose focus on what’s happening with the rest of the body. Pulm/crit docs, especially in the ICU, have to have a solid understanding of how the human body as a whole works because, let’s face it – your lungs aren’t sitting in Timbuktu while the rest of your body is in the USA.
- They enjoy procedures. I like working with my hands but there’s no way I could stand for one spot in a cold OR wearing those masks for hours at a time. If there’s any surgery residents reading this – how do you keep your mask from fogging up? My face ends up doing acrobatics to get rid of the condensation which invariably leads to the most inopportune itches which leads to me becoming nonsterile which leads to me getting yelled at by the scrub tech and being told to sit outside like a bad student. Not that this actually happened to me but I get PTSD even thinking about my surgery rotation. So, doing central lines/intubations is my consolation prize – one that I’m more than happy to accept.
- They don’t ALWAYS enjoy talking to their patients. Let me tell you – it is such a relief not having to do a ROS on any of your ventilated patients in the ICU. You know those patients that have 13 point positive ROS? Yeah none of that in the ICU. Plus you get to be Sherlock Holmes and actually use your skills to diagnose/treat your patient that is on a ventilator, non-responsive and has no family present.
- They love controlled chaos. When I started residency, I used to think the ICU was just like the ER and I began to question if critical care was for me. I’m not someone who can handle a billion different people in one room, shouting orders left and right while in the next room another patient is screaming her lungs out for pain medicine and at the same time the overhead is going off, shouting out a code blue. That is what I like to call complete and utter chaos. A lot of people like that environment and they flourish in it, case in point ER residents. What I realized once I did my first ICU rotation, is that while chaos does happen, it’s in a controlled environment. Things move smoother and calmer. There is an innate understanding between you and your nurses – they’re already anticipating orders before you give them. You stabilize one patient and you just move right along to the next patient that’s crashing. Within the chaos, there is a sense of order.
- Lastly – while every physician plays an important role, I feel strongly that pulm/crit docs are really there for the patients that can’t help themselves. And that’s why I became a doctor in the first place – I’ve been so privileged to be given what I have, it’s only natural that I give back. And how better to do that than to be one of the first faces your patient sees when that tube comes out or he/she wakes up. One of my favorite phrases to say is ‘You’re too healthy for the ICU’.
Ok guys this is me right now.
Yep. Just like that. ‘Night everyone and see ya on the flip side!