I closed the door, wiped my brow, sloshed some hand sanitizer in my hands, and checked the pager on my hip. I rushed to the trauma room, with IPAD and book in hands, bubbles in my pocket.
I almost collided with my intern.
Ugh, she said rolling her eyes. I just did the most annoying lac repair. The kid would not stop screaming. What did you hear about the trauma…
“Oh, bummer. How old were they…” I asked, not answering her, as we both speed-walked past the doctors’ station to the critical care bay.
Six…he would not hold still. I mean, it’s just stitches.
“Just stitches?” I asked accusingly, eyebrow at full tilt. “Earlier, it was just an enema.”
Yea, I mean, I was so excited when I got the trauma page. I left to come here. I can take the trauma.
“No—go back.” I told her as I gowned and gloved.
What?!? I’ve done a million stitches…
“Now, you’ll do a million and five. Go back—finish, and find me after.”
I walked into the trauma room as she walked away flustered.
We later met up in my office for dinner. She was teary, but a mad kind of teary.
Why didn’t you let me do the trauma?
“How did the lac repair go?”
He’s fine; by the time I got back there, they were almost done. What hap…
“How was the nurse and your PA?”
I mean, they were fine. I left the nurse with the ISPY book, so…
“You LEFT your nurse…”
Yea, I mean—it was Renee. She’s great. I knew she’d be fine with the kid.
“Okay, but did you leave because it was where you needed to be or did you leave because you were bored and annoyed because the 6 year old wasn’t cooperating?
Uh, I mean, a trauma is more…
“I get that the trauma is more exciting. I get that it feels more important. I get that you feel less confident doing traumas and you want more practice, but I want to hear how you left and returned—”
Geez, why don’t you trust me! She almost shouted, her chin quivering. I told you, Renee was fine. The PA knew the kid wasn’t going to deal anyways. The mom, I mean…
“Listen, I know you’re probably mad at me. But I get worried when I hear the word just come out of your mouth several times a shift. Just stitches—was that the kids’ first time in the hospital?”
Yes. I just…she started to cry.
“You’re one of the most talented interns I’ve had. I have no concerns about you learning how to do traumas as fluidly as you can do a stitch repair, but I’m worried you’re prioritizing based on yourself, versus what is best. I’m afraid you’re missing the kids in the process. The families. Your team.”
I really do think he was fine, as tears streamed down her face.
Responding more gently, “The thing is…he probably was. You probably realized you COULD leave him. And you knew your team—you knew your nurse was great and could tag team with you. But it’s my job to ask the questions…I need to make sure.”
She sniffled. I waited.
“Tell me what it was like to re-enter the room.”
Renee had the kid engaged in a game. She said after he calmed down after the lidocaine, he did great.
“Awesome. That’s typical, right?”
Yeah, and I thanked Renee for covering.
“Good. What was your communication like with the PA—the mom?”
Mom had been quiet from the get-go. So, I didn’t really say anything to her. The PA thanked me for checking back in and asked for a prize, which I got for her.
“Cool. Would you do anything different next time?”
—- Thinking —–
I wouldn’t have said just…wiping her tears and smiling sarcastically
“Okay…but seriously…anything else?” I said rolling my eyes and smiling.
I probably could have communicated better with the mom—tried to get her more involved.
“Yes, that’d be a great thing to try next time. Good job,” I said as I popped a bite of food in my mouth.
—- Pause —-
Are you going to tell me about the trauma?
“Oh, the kid rolled in sitting up on the backboard. Was a minor accident. JUST a fender-bender,” I said winking at her.
That’s not fair.
“I know, but it’s funny.”