Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Reviews

Self sacrifice only benefits patients short term

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.0411435b (Published 01 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:0411435b
  1. Teresa Pun, second year medical student1
  1. 1University of Toronto

I met Paul on a bed in the residents' lounge. The resident I was following told a guilty looking Paul to stay put as he drew the curtains shut, ‘I don't want to see you on rounds, do you hear me? You're useless right now.’

Amro, another resident, told me that Paul had been on call the previous night, ‘Not sleeping is the worst feeling ever. I'm so tired after that I call patients by different names and you can make so many mistakes.’

I already knew that residents and doctors led hard lives, but I had no idea that quite a bit of it was self imposed. Only one out of five residents that I've shadowed has actually stopped to take a drink of water, and I have yet to catch someone on a bathroom break. As a junior medical student, I am afraid that these habits are creeping up on me as well. Looking back on my numerous shadowing experiences, I cannot recall ever being thirsty.

Back at lunch, a resident of the emergency room was telling Paul about a recent neurosurgical consult. ‘What are we doing eating?’

Five minutes later, the residents had reviewed the computed tomography scan and Paul and I were on our way to emergency. I had overheard someone telling Paul that he should be at home, and I asked him about this.

‘You're supposed to go home at 12 noon the day after …

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