PITTSBURGH, PA – Dr. Samantha Brown, a newly-minted emergency medicine resident, was 7 weeks into residency before she had her first major disappointment of post-graduate life. Paired with a number of what she thought were attractive co-interns, Dr. Brown had her eyes set on one Dr. Jim Donovan a fresh-faced internal medicine resident.
“I first noticed Jim on rounds,” explains Dr. Brown. “We were paired together in the MICU, and I just loved the way his bow tie was set ever-so-slightly off center. I mean, how edgy is that? What a rebel. The way he refused to iron his wrinkly shirts, as if to say, ‘Stick it to the man!'”
But the attraction didn’t stop there recalls Dr. Brown.
“The way Jim talked was so adorable. The way he nervously presented patient plans to our attendings, or the way his voice shook and cracked when he admitted to not knowing an answer. He seemed so dreamy.”
The opportunistic Dr. Brown decided to seize her opportunity with Dr. Donovan their first night on call together.
“I took a shower, threw on some lipstick, put on my nicest pair of scrubs, and headed in to work that night.” She remembers: “As it started to get later, things calmed down in the ICU. I remember Jim mulling over whether to replete a patient’s potassium with 10 or 20 milliequivalents for about an hour. He’s so thoughtful and smart. I urged him to hurry and make a decision and asked if he wanted to go to the call room with me.”
Samantha refuses to go into too much detail about the night, but describes it as “awkward,” “brief,” and “overly sweaty.”
“I didn’t understand,” recounts an flummoxed Dr. Brown. “You take two people who spent four years working in college while their friends partied, then put them through four more years of intense medical school, then throw them into the hospital together with little or no time for exercise or personal hygiene and you’d think you would have a recipe for some romantic and passionate nights, right? Well, apparently not, because all I got was pale uncoordinated disappointment.”
After seeking counsel with one of her senior residents, Dr. Brown now realizes that the hospital was partially to blame for her attraction to Dr. Donovan, and attributes it to a hospital-based phenomenon known as “hospital hot.”
“When you spend sixteen hours a day in the hospital, your standards start to fall and things get weird. People who are 5’s or 6’s in the real world become 9’s and 10’s in the hospital. Strange things become attractive, like note-writing efficiency or knowing the amount of sodium in LR. It all falls under the blanket of ‘hospital hot.'”
Samantha now realizes that Jim Donovan is ‘hospital hot,’ and seeks the company of suitors outside the hospital.