Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Residency Procedures

The mantra "see one, do one, teach one" has long been thought to be essential to the training of physicians. But how would you like to be the patient on the receiving end of that training - a medical student or resident doing his or her first (or second, or third) procedure of a particular type? My anxiety about one such situation as a second-year Family Medicine resident at Lancaster General Hospital (PA) in 2002 led to the following tongue-in-cheek poem about the disparity between intellectual knowledge and hands-on ability.



Have you ever been caught
Too close to a lamp
Unable to immediately turn
To evade the scalding heat?

That's where it starts
Your name in block letters
An article tacked up on a door
The thrill of recognition.

They can't see what you can
But the cost is prose burned
Into areas that ought to contain
Other things - for example,

Being on time for noon conference
The dinner you forgot to pack for that long night on call
The chapters of skin diseases you didn't read
So you have no idea what to do with the ugly mole on this man's back.

But ... perhaps he'll recognize you!
Perhaps he'll say, didn't you write that column in Central Penn Parent Magazine?
Your ignorance scrubbed away in a sterile field
Awaiting decisive excisions with number 10 blades

Then sent off to Pathology, where
Under the piercing gaze of microscopes
They'll dissect your pieces,
Label them separately,
Fix them in formaldehyde
So your slides may be admired for generations.

- Kenny Lin