ST. LOUIS, MO – It was 9 AM on a Thursday morning and each clinic room was full in Dr. Tone’s colorectal clinic.
“No one has been in yet? What the hell is the resident doing? I hope he’s having a nice breakfast!” Tone mused sarcastically while perusing his investments online.
“Dr. Tone, I regret to remind you that all of the residents are on a retreat except for the on-call doc who is in the hospital,” replied Flowertop.
Dr. Tone’s face became an expressionless mask hiding the turbulent waters stirring within his soul. He called the chief resident; no answer. He checked his emails and found a buried one liner from the chairman excusing residents for the entire day. “Okay, Tone, you got this,” he muttered to himself after a deep breath as he walked into the first patient’s room.
“Hi there, I’m Dr. Tone, the resident tells me that… Oh wait, never mind. Um… What brings you in?”
“Well, I’ve had some rectal bleeding and my primary care doc says I have some big hemorrhoids that he referred me to you for treatment,” stated new patient Randy Marsh.
“Oh hemorrhoids! Good!” replied Dr. Tone. “I mean, not good for your butt, but you know good that you’re in the right place. Um, tell me how long this has been going on and what not.”
“Well, I’ve always had constipation problems,” began Marsh. “I think those started when I was around 7 years old. My grandfather on my mother’s side had it too, and maybe his sister. Not my sister though, she is very regular. It got a little better when I was 9 but came and went throughout high school. High school was rough. I wasn’t very good at math…”
Marsh continued to regale his life story to Tone, occasionally providing information regarding his hemorrhoids. Tone smiled and nodded while inside cursing residents, resident retreats, and long-winded patients. After finally completing the interview and exam, a hypoglycemic Tone was met with a fresh coffee and granola bar by a slow-clapping staff. He immediately hopped into the next new patient room and began the process again.
“After about the third patient he really hit a stride,” said Flowertop. “It was actually faster than when he had a resident. We can’t really bill for his notes since there is no review of systems and they average about 50 words. However, patients were happy to only tell their story once and not deal with some dumb resident.”