BIRMINGHAM, AL – Earlier this week, administrators and health care practitioners at Birmingham Medical Center implemented a new cost-cutting measure that hopes to save their health system millions of dollars. What is the new measure? Getting rid of intravenous (IV) poles and replacing them with eager medical students.
“We are always looking for ways to cut expenditures,” explained CEO Bill Profits. “The idea stemmed from our surgical colleagues revealing the nimble nature of medical students and their ability to hold many things, like retractors, jackets, and coffee. There’s no shortage of eager med students; you can always find one around. I’ll show you. Here, medical student! Here!”
“I really feel like I’m an important member of the medical team,” said Room 1416 IV pole and second-year medical student Austin McConnell. He is carrying a fresh bag of normal saline and vancomycin in his left hand, while a potassium run finishes in his right hand. He shows no signs of upper extremity fatigue. “This is what I came to medical school to do.”
Room 3113 IV pole and third-year medical student Meghan Jones agrees. “I’ve never spent so much time at bedside,” Jones confesses with excitement as she gestures towards the units of packed red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma (FFP) dangling from her hands and armpits. A disposable stethoscope is draped over her left shoulder. “It’s a dream come true.”
“These med students are shining bright,” admitted nurse Elaine Rivers. “More importantly, they’re no longer hogging our computers.” She points to her favorite med student, Julie Jenkins, in Room 2120. “She’s an all star. She doesn’t drop a thing and can stand hours on one leg. Horrible C. diff? Not a peep out of her. Things I love about her? She makes a BEEP sound when her patient’s arm isn’t straight. She also let’s patients have it if they go out for a smoke. Amazing.”
Though these eager medical students are happily adapting to their new clinical and bedside role, they do admit that going into bathrooms with patients is still a little bit awkward.
“I see a lot of private parts and hear a lot of weird noises,” commented Jones over the flush of her patient’s toilet. “The toughest part is when all the IVs get tangled and you have to do this weird tango with the patient to get free. But you know what? If that’s what it takes to succeed, then I’m gonna be the best damn tango-ing IV untangler you’ve ever seen!”