Blog | Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Back to my roots as a ward attending


The previous two weeks I slept in 7 different cities. ACP is keeping me busy, and I am not complaining. But periodically, I must remember who I am and why I do what I do. This week, fortunately, I have been rounding on our internal medicine service, going to the bedside, participating in the diagnostic process, comforting the terminal, and hopefully teaching our students and residents. I have done morning report 3 times, and did an impromptu review session for the internal medicine residents on acid-base, electrolytes and renal disease (They start their in-service exams next week).

I am reinvigorated. Next week is another travel week. I am giving grand rounds at the University of Cincinnati and then attending the Ohio ACP chapter meeting. I look forward to next week, but without this week, I might have become a bit stale.

Over the years, despite many administrative academic responsibilities and national society service, I have insisted that my main place is teaching on the wards. Most years I did 4 or 5 months of ward attending (including weekend coverage). With my current job, I round most weeks for 3 days. I estimate around 120 days of rounding this year.

If I am not at the bedside, if I am not interacting with students and residents, I just may lose perspective. I am an administrator and a society leader, but basically I am a physician. I refuse to forget that.

My opinions, decisions and philosophy grow from my clinical experiences. My joy blossoms when I have students and residents who are as excited (or even more so) about medicine as I am. Both patients and learners provide my raison d’être.

This week we had sad stories, inspiring stories, diagnostic challenges and management challenges. We have done the fundamentals of inpatient medicine. We have helped some patients dramatically, comforted others, and been frustrated over how to help a couple.

Weeks like this inform everything I am and everything I do.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and is the Associate Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He also serves as a frequent ward attending at the Birmingham VA Hospital. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.