Bronching The Inbox

ERAS is in, my away rotations are done, and I’m stuck here waiting for interview invitations along with the other 100% of 4th year medical students. Well, except the two loudly proclaiming to all who will listen, “I HAVE SO MANY INVITES GUYS SO MANY INVITES!”

You know who you are.

Anyway.  I’m enrolled in a new rotation this month, “Pulmonary Consults,” and I have to say it is the greatest 4th year elective possible. In selecting a course for this month, I was aiming for 3 key things:

  • Short Hours
  • No One Will Yell At Me
  • Will Learn a Few Interesting Things, But Not So Many I Have To Read Up On Them At Night

Pulm consults beautifully fills these three requirements. It occurs to me that these are the goals and words of a burnt out fourth year student, which is of course exactly what I, and my 98 compatriot 4th years, are.

Burnt the f*** out.

It is amazing how universal this sentiment is. It’s like the clock struck September 15th, when ERAS opened for submission, and the entire class turned into a collective pumpkin, with the collective motivation to do what a pumpkin does. Which is nothing, except eventually rot from sheer laziness.

This is understandable considering that I haven’t had any time off since last December, and that the last three months were all intense away rotations where I worked super hard, including my obviously heroic, dramatic, mid-flight rescue of a damsel in distress having the dangerous life-threat known as the panic attack.

(Not that I’m perseverating on this, but she actually probably could have died of smothering if the Helpful Ladies had been allowed to continue their treatments. I also very likely need therapy, because the thought of flying again gives me substantial anxiety of my own.)

Anyway. We’re trying to take it easy. So here is my average day. Because the fellow on the service does morning rounds with an inpatient team unrelated to the consult service, my fellow 4th year med student A. and I don’t have to arrive until 10 am.

We are, in the interest of “Maximizing Our Education,” given the totally optional option to round with the other team, which made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it I just about wet my pants. At ten, my buddy and I look at the list of patients for whom other services have requested our expertise and pick one each to see.

We go see our patient, write a note, and then round in the afternoon with the fellow and the attending physician. In between we watch bronchoscopies, which is when you ram a large Roto-Rooter-esque tube down someone’s throat in order to suck out snot and various other unmentionables for testing. This is an immensely satisfying endeavor to even watch as a bystander. Imagine the greatest nose-blow in your life, and multiply it by about 10. It’s tremendously rewarding.

We get out around 4 or 5 most days. Now before you assume, wrongly, that I am an expert in lung disease, it is worth saying that I have written six notes so far and have been entirely, 100% wrong on the diagnosis for five of them. I was in the ballpark on one but got the plan wrong. I know absolutely nothing about pulmonology besides that air goes in and slightly warmer, smellier air comes out.

burned-wileLearning pulmonology is actually a side job for the month of October.  As a 4th year student, my primary responsibility for this month is actually to respond like an electrified Wile E. Coyote every time my phone beeps with email on the off chance that it contains an interview invitation. Since the entirety of my emails do not contain interview invitations – save for one, from my home institution – and I was rapidly depleting my body of a meaningful fight-or-flight response, most of my “work of the day” consists of setting up and tweaking various email filters, which is the greatest thing ever invented by Microsoft.

This process is actually not unlike bronchoscopy, in the sense that I am attempting to clear myself of a horrifyingly phlegmatic and unhelpful daily assault on my inbox. After a great deal of work and the creation of about 57 filters, I am now successfully screening about 90% of my incoming communication. This has greatly improved my quality of life (and my adrenal glands), and is almost as satisfying as watching someone suck out a gigantic mucus plug on a scope. The analogy, actually, is striking.

Of course, every once in awhile an email does sneak through, which results in my heart rate shooting to 170, me shooting my hand into the front pocket of my scrubs, grabbing my phone, and excitedly swiping past the lock screen. Finally, I think, finally the floodgates will open and I will gratefully fall into the open arms of the exalted Program Directors, who are eager to interview me for a potential slot in their illustrious resid—


New filter: “Subject: contains “anal warts”, mark as read, move to trash.”

5 thoughts on “Bronching The Inbox

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Good to know you’re not in a full foaming panic.

    Guess you’re a laid back Californian like your father.

    Wile E. Coyote. Perfect.

    PS Anal warts are never funny

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