I started my obstetrics and gynecology rotation this week. Hence, why I have not been able to post anything in quite a while. The hours are a lot like surgery: I get up around 4:00 a.m. so that I can make it to the hospital by five o’clock. I’m usually there for about 12-14 hours. I then come home completely exhausted, study what I can in what little time I have remaining, and then fall asleep into an almost coma-like state. I worked all seven days this week which, after I get through the next week, I will have put in 13 days in a row. I worked more than 80 hours this week. And while that may seem like a lot, given that my residents were always in the hospital before I arrived and after I left, I am certain that they were putting in close to 90-100 hours.
My previous rotation, family medicine, spoiled me with its relaxed work schedule. I would get up around 8:00—8:30 if I didn’t feel like going in—and then would spend a leisurely eight hours in the office before coming home and chilling out for the rest of the day. Since I had had the bulk of the third-year curriculum prior to starting family medicine, outpatient primary care was a breeze to me. I never bothered studying; in fact, I only spent three days doing a half-assed attempt at practice questions so that I can get ready for the shelf exam. But now that I’m on ob/gyn, everything has changed.
When I woke up at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I heard the awful sounds of a siren that for a few seconds I was convinced were coming from outside my window. I figured that an ambulance must be running down my street to bring the latest victim of a shooting to the nearby hospital. When I finally realized that the sound was coming from my own alarm clock, I was greatly annoyed at the misfortune I would have over the next six weeks.
Ob/gyn residents are a lot like surgery residents: they have terrible hours which violate federal work-hour rules, they get greatly annoyed at medical students and have a short temper, and they are so stressed from the work that is constantly dumped upon them by the hospital and the attending that I’m surprised one of them has not brought a gun into the workplace yet and started shooting up the nurses station.
We try to break the monotony in this rotation by allowing students to work shifts in the emergency department, catching gynecological cases. I’ve mentioned before that my hospital serves as an urban walk-in clinic for many of the uninsured people of my city. In the past week, I have seen the 6—SIX!—people come to the emergency department solely to get a pregnancy test. They had no other complaints other than wondering whether or not they were carrying a baby. My resident, my new hero, tried to explain to these women that a trip to the emergency department costs almost $1000 for all of the laboratory work and eventual ultrasound that we would perform. These women, with their glazed over looks, just brushed off the notion that they should ever have to pay for health care. Two of them even became annoyed when my resident suggested that they could go to Walgreen’s and purchase a home pregnancy test for $10. One replied, “I just don’t have enough time in the day to go to the drugstore!” To which my resident replied, “Didn’t you just spend three hours and our waiting room? Driving to the drugstore, purchasing a urine pregnancy test, and then driving home certainly takes a lot less time.” But then again, why should any of these women care? Health care is free after all. Having the latest cell phone is more important than having insurance. And hell, while we’re at it, let’s not bother trying to use birth control to prevent another pregnancy anyway.