BALTIMORE, MD – Dr. Anita Campbell dreamt of becoming a physician for years. Three months ago, she finally graduated from medical school to fulfill her lifelong calling. Growing up watching shows like Scrubs and House M.D., Dr. Campbell was confident she was prepared for what being a physician would be like. However, now just months into her intern year, Dr. Campbell admits she feels misled.
“None of these residency programs are anything like what I’ve seen on TV,” complains an exasperated Dr. Campbell. “We work all day, from dawn until dusk: rounding, writing notes, placing orders. It’s exhausting. Then I have to go home and read just to stay afloat. I barely have time to shower on a daily basis, so forget putting on makeup in the morning or dry-cleaning a cocktail dress to go out on the town with my fellow residents.”
Frustrated with her complete lack of a social life, Dr. Campbell mistakenly took solace in the fact that she would “get to do most of the cool stuff’” in the hospital.
“If you really know your TV shows like I do you’d know that as the primary inpatient team, you get to do pretty much all of the procedures on your patients… or so I thought. My first week, one of my patient’s coded and needed to be intubated. Naturally, I assumed as the intern on the primary team with a week of experience behind me, I’d be the point-person, but no. Some anesthesia jerk comes running down the hall and throws the tube in instead.”
Shocked to find out that anesthesia is routinely called for airway access, Dr. Campbell was disappointed, but not nearly as upset as she was when neurosurgery was called for her patient’s subdural hematoma.
“This is the real kicker, right here. My patient develops a subdural, so, of course, I read an UpToDate article and discover he might need surgery. I’ve been caring for this guy for a week on the floors, so I’m ready. I ask my senior to cover my patients while I go perform the surgery, and she looks at me like I’m an idiot. It turns out, we don’t do brain surgery in this medicine residency. The neurosurgeons do. This program sucks! I wanted to be like the docs on House! Those guys do everything.”
Thoroughly disappointed with what she calls “severe undertraining of residents” at her institution, Dr. Campbell decided to do some research only to discover that no medicine programs would train her to do surgery, or vice-versa, and that no specialty was “responsible for everything.”
Back at square one, Dr. Campbell now says her new plan might be to discover a different career, one that is more realistically mirrored by television, such as forensic pathology or law enforcement.