“Oh hello, I’ll find you one of the registrars, I’m just the resident.”
I scurried after him with an internal sigh, wondering who I was going to be palmed off to next. I was in an Orthopaedics Fracture Clinic, and was hoping to get something practical out of my session (such as ticking off necessary examinations in my logbook). But it was starting to look like that might not be the case.
We wandered over to one of the rooms, where three of the registrars were sitting together discussing something I was paying very little attention to. “Hey got a medical student here, anyone want one?”
They stopped talking. No-one responded. “No?” the resident asked. I was getting the idea that he wasn’t particularly interested in having me sit in with him either. “We’ve already got the other medical students.” (note: the medical students were actually with none of these doctors). The resident continued to stand by the doorway until another registrar piped up: “She can go to the plaster technician-that would be useful for her.” The resident straightened. “Good idea.” He turned to me. “They might let you do something.”
The plaster room was no good. She appeared as genial as I felt, though it was not directed at us. “Just not today, I’m sorry.” We backed out and I mentally prepared myself to return to the common room and reassess my plan for the day while indulging in feeling just a little sorry for myself.
“Hm.” I turned to the resident: “That’s ok, I can just come back another time.” To his credit (considering he didn’t seem very interested in the situation) he shook his head. “No no, come with me.” We walked back to the room assigned to him for the day and he sat down. He began setting up the computer. “Yeah, it’s just I’m just the resident, everything I do I have to run it by the regs, so it’s probably better if you were with them.” I quietly wondered if I should fake a tutorial and spare him the pain.
I made some agreeable noise I think, and stayed silent. The less I spoke, I thought, the less annoyed he might get for having been stuck with me.
“So what did you want to get out of this, Priscilla?” I dithered, and shrugged. “To learn, to do a few things.” I told him about the items I needed ticked off on my logbook. He nodded. “Well we probably won’t get the hip and back exams. But we can probably get a shoulder one in.” By then the patient was walking in and so it was left at that. Midway through the clinic however, he turned to me and said: “Ok, you’re leading this one.”
I blinked. “What?” He grinned. “You’re sitting in the chair, and you’re taking the notes, I’m not telling you her story, it’s your patient!” At that moment, I had no time to wonder wildly what my plan was, I had to just do. I sat down awkwardly. The patient had been called in, but as it turned out she was a 92 year old delightful woman who was stuck with a walker thanks to a patellar fracture. “I’m walking as fast as I can!” she said light heartedly, and we watched. “No, no. This is part of our exam; we just want to see your walking.” The resident said. “Now this is Priscilla, she’s going to be in charge today, is that ok with you?” She laughed as she sat down. “She’s going to be in charge? A woman in charge, of course I’m ok with that!” With that comment, I knew I was going to survive the consult.
She was an amusing historian, and also a very independent and determined woman, with an incredible amount of eagerness to resume her two daily walks a day. Once the resident had taken off her Zimmer knee splint and I’d performed both a quick knee and shoulder examination (she had a history of two shoulder replacements and the resident thought that was the perfect opportunity to ask), she was up and walking around the room. “What are you doing mum?” the daughter (who had accompanied her) asked. “Testing it out of course!” she retorted, as she resumed her seat. We left them for a moment to consult the registrar who did not glance at me at all even as I reported back.
We relayed the news to the patient. She grinned. “Oh thank god, I can go for walks now?” The resident reassured her that she could, however to be safe she should take her walker and continue to use the splint for one to two weeks and slowly wean as she pleased. Thanking us profusely, we watched her leave, and I daresay I almost saw a spring in her step.
Smiling the resident turned to me. “Perfect. Well done.” It was three words, but I knew they were genuine and was feeling incredibly proud of myself, and satisfied with my morning. Thanks to the kindness of one resident, I was actually able to do something I had never done before. I could have just left in a huff after being rejected by the registrars but I stayed, and it definitely paid off.