How Not to Talk with a Doctor

While I’m Scribing, it is key for me to understand exactly why the patient is in the ER and provide an accurate history describing their illness. This is often difficult as patients are often terrible providing a coherent history.

Thus leading to this post by Ten out of Ten, outlining many different types of patients and how they mess up such a simple task. Ten states, “Maybe 1 patient in 10 manages to concisely describe their issue and stick to yes/no answers.”

The post is incredibly entertaining and it’s worth taking the time to read the whole thing. Beware though, you may find a bit of yourself in some of these descriptions. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Me: “Do you take insulin or pills for your diabetes?”
Patient: “Well, at first they put me on a diet, and told me to exercise, and I did for a few days anyway and at first it seemed like maybe it helped a little bit, but then I guess it got worse, so they put me on a pill…what was it called…metop-o-nin…metamucil…formethorin…no…metlife?”
Me: “Metformin.”
Patient: “Yes! Metformin! So anyway they put me on that at first and I was getting it filled and then there was a problem with my insurance so I had to switch to a different pharmacy and that one was way farther away and the people there were not nearly as nice, except for Lula although now that I think about it she didn’t even work there, she worked at the Marshall’s across the street — I think it was a Marshall’s, either Marshall’s or Ross I can’t remember, which reminds me I need to take those shoes back, um, so…uh…where was I now?”
Me: “Um, insulin or pills?”

Wanderers are the worst. I usually end up afraid to ask any more questions and cut the conversation short.

Me: “Have you had fever?”
Patient: “No, but chills.”
Me: “Vomiting?”
Patient: “No, but I feel like I need to.”
Me: “Surgery on your belly?”
Patient: “No, but I’ve had my tonsils out.”
Me: “Heart problems?”
Patient: “No, but my mom’s a diabetic.”

The no/buts cannot bring themselves to stop at no. Do I need these extraneous details? No, but my knee is a little achy today.

Have I ever read a post so entertaining? No, but my memory is a little hazy today.

Winter Term Sucks: Here Are 4 Tips to Make it Better

Winter TermIt’s cold. It’s dark. You have a frustrating group lab project hanging over your head. You hate life right now…it’s winter term.

Trust me, I can relate. While I was in school, this was my least favorite time of year. The lack of daylight and cold weather piled on top of tough coursework made life miserable at times. But I learned a few things to help get me through the hard times. Here’s a few tips:

1. Exercise. If you’re an outdoor exerciser, this can be difficult if you live in a place with cold winters. But if you can join an intramural basketball league- do it. Indoor soccer, running on a treadmill, broomball, yoga. Something to get you moving. Not only is it good for your physical health, but it does wonders for your mental sanity as well. Basketball games gave me something to look forward to, and during the game it was a great way to release the stress pent up inside.

2. Get away from school. Try a mini vacation. Grab some friends and take a weekend where you spend a couple days somewhere, anywhere away from school. When I was in leadership positions at school our staff would often take winter retreats. Some of my best memories are from those retreats, and I always came back refreshed and ready to tackle the stresses of life as a pre med student.

3. Take one longer term project/paper/assignment and finish it within the next few days. This one’s hard. But the benefit is worth it. If you get it done now, it’s one last thing to worry about at the end of the term. When you finish it you may be surprised how much it was weighing on you. That’s one last stressor hanging over your head for the end of the term.

4. Look forward to the future. The work you’re doing now is going to lead to a wonderful future as a physician. Think about the experiences you’ll have in med school, imagine what it would be like to practice as a doctor and talk about these dreams with your friends. Discuss how much fun it would be to practice together. It’s fun and it gives you some hope that the sacrifices you’re making now will pay off in the future.

Yep, winter term sucks. But Spring Break is soon! Take heart fellow pre meds, "The night is always darkest before the dawn."

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A Great Compliment

A few days ago we received evaluations from doctors we have worked with. Most of the ER Scribes on our team are new this year and have worked for about 6-7 months, and this was the first time we received any feedback since training.

Here is what one of the doctors wrote on my eval:

“One of my favorite scribes! Reminds me of myself 12-15 years ago.”

What a nice thing to read. It helps that it was from a doctor that I like and respect.

Anyway, it was great to get some feedback. I feel lucky to have this job.

Why Pre Med Students Should Read Medical Blogs

Vitum Medicinus says it’s because it will help you get into medical school. Check out this stellar article outlining all the reasons it’s a good idea to read as many medical blogs as possible.

Among some of the best reasons provided: you’ll write a better essay, you’ll know for sure if medical school is right for you and you’ll get a chance to have a conversation with medical professionals. The best part about the post is that it is stuffed with links to blog stories providing examples backing his reasons.

I hope Vitum is right, because I read a lot of medical blogs. They are terribly entertaining. Vitum Medicinus is one of my favorites, although the author is in medical school and he doesn’t write often enough (which is completely understandable).

So what are you waiting for? Find some great medical blogs, fire up that RSS reader, subscribe and have at it! Here are a couple ER blogs to get started:

Crass-Pollination: An ER Blog

ER Stories
Have fun!

Health Care Careers: Physician Assistant (PA). What is a Physician Assistant?


Does the idea of spending four years in medical school intimidate you? Not to mention at least three years in internship and residency? In spite of these fears, do you still have a strong desire to practice medicine?

Do you already have experience working in health care?

If these questions describe you, becoming a Physician Assistant may be the perfect option for you.

US News and World Report describes it as one of the 31 Careers with Bright Futures in 2008. Here’s what they have to say:

Don’t confuse physician assistants with medical assistants, who aren’t qualified to do much more than take your blood pressure. Physician assistants do 80 percent of what doctors do: conduct exams, diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, even assist in surgery. While PAs are supervised by physicians, they have considerable autonomy. And while pay isn’t doctorlike, it’s far from sickly.

The Physician Assistant career is one of fastest growing occupations in the country.

Continue reading Health Care Careers: Physician Assistant (PA). What is a Physician Assistant?