Pediatric emergency work is challenging. It’s a weird combination of truly sick kids, kids who are sort of unwell, kids who are 100% fine, and, once in a while, kids who are at risk of actively dying. All in the same shift.
I had some experience in it back in medical school, though in a different hospital in a different city. Which basically means starting from scratch when it comes to the logistical things. But clinically, it’s been a wonderful few weeks of refining differential diagnoses and procedural skills. And much in the style of my last few posts, I thought I’d share some little pearls about both working in and visiting a pediatric ER.
Carry on, dear reader.
I experienced my very first switch call this block. And firsts always call for a blog post.
Ah, but what is switch call, the uninitiated may ask? Switch call is almost as bad as in-house call (i.e. being stuck in hospital for 26 hours). Switch call begins at home call (i.e. cozied up with a book and a blanket) and then you spend enough time at the hospital after midnight (i.e. cold and hungry in your rattiest hoodie and scrubs) for it to count as a “switch.” Like in-house, switch call gives you the benefit of a post-call day, yay!
So yes. The switch.
Here’s a rundown of how it goes. (Times changed to protect the patients.)
(EDIT: HURRAY it’s my 100th post!!!)
(Hurr dee hurr, it’s a fandom joke.)
But it does accurately sum up the general feel of this first week of residency.
Because, let’s be honest, the difference between the end of 4th year and the beginning of PGY1 is a piece of paper with my name on it. And nothing else. I haven’t magically conjured more confidence or clinical acumen in my time off.
It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s been about 3 months since I’ve had any clinical experience, and I’m definitely a little rusty. Every time I go on vacation, I seem to lose a handful of techniques and knowledge details that I’m sure I knew before. Here’s the short list:
Almost overnight, my answer to “Are you more excited or nervous about residency?” went from the former to the latter. Well, I should say it happened over the course of the morning on March 5th. Residency suddenly went from this nebulous, foggy concept with rainbows and gumdrops to a stark reality (with a metric tonne of paperwork, no less). It’s one thing to pick a residency program, but quite another to prepare yourself for living it.