Chicago, Illinois – It was approximately 4:15 PM last Tuesday when Clark Gunnerson, a 3rd year medical student on his pediatrics rotation, uttered the universal phrase known all too well to the medical community.
“Can I help with anything else?” Gunnerson, who was already halfway out the door, inquired of his pediatrics resident Dr. Green. Everyone who has ever been to medical school understands that this is Third Year-ese for “Listen, I am going home now and we both know it. Don’t make this awkward.”
This time, however, was different.
“Yes,” Dr. Green responded for perhaps the first time in the history of medicine. In fact, both Gunnerson and Dr. Green were so shocked that they both just stared at each other for a good 30 seconds not knowing what to do. Their attending, Dr. Stern, abruptly stopped signing orders and looked up to observe this once-in-a-career event.
“Uh, I mean, yeah just make sure you send me your note and you can go home…,” Dr. Green loudly backpedaled.
“Looking back, it was a blur and I don’t even know what happened,” admits Dr. Green, “I was in the middle of typing a note and I guess I just didn’t fully process what he was saying. I need to be more careful and I take full responsibility for what happened”
“Look, all I need is that sweet Honors grade and I’m willing to do whatever it takes so it was no big deal,” Gunnerson added, “I just hope this doesn’t end up on my Dean’s Letter somehow!”
Dr. Stern said this was one of the more difficult situations she has encountered in her career. “I have already spoken with Dr. Green and we plan on performing a root cause analysis to figure out what actually happened. This may have to get reported as a ‘never event’.”
Gunnerson, Dr. Green, and Dr. Stern all agreed that for the rest of the rotation Gunnerson will just leave whenever he feels like it in order to avoid a similar event in the future. Gunnerson also says he plans on writing up the event as a case report to boost his residency application