Phone Calls, Puppies, & Babies

I don’t mind talking on the phone. That is, of course, as long as the person on the other end actually has something to say. But phone calls have been one of my least favorite parts of this week on Adolescent Psychiatry.

Whenever we have a new patient, the we are supposed to learn everything about the patient that we can. For these new patients, there are three sources of information: 1) the nursing admission note, 2) the patient, and 3) the parent/guardian.

Usually, by the time the patient becomes “ours,” the patient is already situated in the unit. The nursing note has already been done. Our job, then, is to read the nursing note to get a sense of what happened, and then find out what the story is from the patient and their parent/guardian.

The patient/guardian is a phone call away. And these phone calls often take quite a while. I suppose it is expected, though, with situations that often involve seriously disturbing relationships and circumstances. We have to discuss the current situation and the events that led up to the hospitalization. And then we discuss the patient’s history in detail.

But what I find much worse than the phone calls is what I learn from them, and what I learn as I get to know the patient more each day. As the story unfolds, I have to watch myself. I sometimes get so mad and frustrated. I find myself in disbelief at the atrocities that “my” kid has had to endure. There are stories of 7 year olds who get started on drugs and alcohol. Seven year olds! Who gives a kid drugs and alcohol?!? We have to hear about kids who were abused in every way imaginable by people who were supposed to help protect them. We talk to kids who tell us they see and hear things. We have to daily ask them if they are thinking about hurting themselves or other people — because it is a very real issue for many of them.

And I find myself disgusted that it is harder to adopt a puppy than it is for a person to become a parent. It’s ridiculous. And it sucks.


Addiction Week

I have been on the Psychiatry service for almost 3 weeks now. This week I was assigned to the Addictions unit. It has been quite the eye-opener. It has been filled with meeting people at various stages of recovery. I have sat in on Al-Anon , AA, NA, and other group meetings.

They have been filled with stories. Sad stories. Tearful stories. Stories filled with despair. And stories filled with hope and inspiration.

The biggest thing about this week is the realization that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate. There were successful professionals. There were homeless members. There were women and men. There were people like me. And that scared me. Because I realized that if I could be sitting in one of those chairs and telling one of those stories.


VLOG Post – Episode 1
I’m considering doing some video posts every once in a while. This was the obligatory inaugural video post. Who knows? It may be the first and only one.


Doctors vs Politicians: Does reputation matter?

Dr. Cranquis (not his real name) blogs fairly regularly on tumblr. He has an entertaining writing style and does an amazing job of answering questions from his readers. One reader recently asked him the following question:

Do people aiming to become a doctor need to be extra careful about not doing things that could be controversial or used against them later in the same way as politicians (needing to be careful about their personal life in order to succeed in their career)?

As one who follows him on tumblr, this post came across my dashboard and I was eager to read his take on it.

He says that doctors need to be “even MORE careful” than politicians for a number of reasons.

Check out his answer by clicking here.

It’s a good reminder especially for medical students living in these digital, socially networked times.


Annual Post-Graduate Convention 2011

This weekend is the Annual Post-Graduate Convention (APC) here at Loma Linda University. During this weekend, alumni come back to fellowship and, if they want, sit in on lectures that count towards CME credit.

Coincidentally I was out on campus taking pictures around sunset. As I stood there taking one picture I spoke to one of the ladies heading towards the campus church where the evening’s event was taking place.

She told me that her husband graduated from Loma Linda University 50 years ago. I can’t imagine where I’ll be 50 years from now. I hope that I will still be able to trek back and see old (literally) faces.

Here are a few of the pictures I took last night.