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So What Else am I Doing? No ...

Posted Oct 01 2008 5:03pm
So What Else am I Doing?

Now that I finally have time to talk about things OTHER than my emergency medicine board exams...

I got a new job. I actually started it in late August. Since my hospitalist gig wasn't really working out (I didn't like the one hour drive, I didn't like the fact that half the time my orders didn't get carried out, I didn't really like the 'hospitalist' role in general) when they started pushing me to commit to a more consistent schedule I took the opportunity to bail out.

Then, something better fell into my lap. I was working with one of the emerg docs in August when she mentioned something about a 'shift at the clinic'. I asked her if she did walk-in clinic work in addition to the emerg, and she confessed that she did. I say confessed simply because around these parts (and in most parts, I guess) walk-in clinic doctors don't have the best reputation. At best, they're solely motivated by money and cranking through patients as quickly as possible. At worst they're seen as antibiotic dispensers, willing to give patients whatever the hell will get them out of the office in the least amount of time. But this was an emerg doc that I admired, and here she was admitted that she also worked at a walk-in. Huh. Interesting.

I told her that I had looked into working for one past-time at the beginning of my residency and didn't know how to get into it. She told me that the clinic she was working at was always looking for docs to provide more coverage. She paged the doc who ran the clinic... and boom. By the end of the week I worked my first shift as 'one of those walk-in clinic doctors".

And I liked it.


Well, I can't deny that the amount of money that I can make in one short 5 hour shift is awesome. My $200K line of credit for medical school liked that part. But there were two things that I liked even more...

The first was the fact that I didn't answer to anyone. I didn't have to justify my decisions to a preceptor, and no one had the option of seeing the 'real' doctor instead. I finally felt full accountability and full responsibility... and I loved it.

The second was the fact that I felt appreciated. I never thought that was all that important to me, but it made a big difference. I understand that emerg is a pretty thankless job. You're seeing people at their worst, they're sick, their family members are worried and stressed, they're often angry at being made to wait for hours on end... I get that. But there were a few times... after seeing a woman in early pregnancy after a stillbirth, counselling a guy with first-episode HSV infection, reassuring a new mom that she wasn't doing anything wrong... simple things, really. But the patients were just so thankful to me afterwards. Maybe they expected the typical 'McMedicine' that walk-in clinics are famous for and were surprised that I took the time to sit and listen. But I was actually surprised by how much a simple 'thank you' meant to me. It made me feel a little narcissistic, but it was a stark contrast to the emergency department.

So I have a new part-time job. Emerg resident by day, walk-in clinic doctor by night. And mom at all other moments of the day. No wonder I'm exhausted.
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