I am so excited today to have Dr. Majestic, an Emergency Medicine physician out of Orange County, California, talk about what her life is like in the ED. Be sure to follow her on Instagram, @dr.majestic_md, and Periscope, @DrMajestic, where she posts about different health topics and has some wonderful tips on how to integrate more healthy habits into our busy routines.
Each medical student will ask themselves a hundred times in medical school, “what field is the best fit for me?” This can be one of the hardest decisions in your lives! I know; I’ve been there.
I chose Emergency Medicine at the last minute, when I thought I was choosing Plastic Surgery. These fields could NOT be more different! In the end, my younger self knew what she was doing and who she really was. She knew that my personality would fit perfectly into Emergency Medicine.
My week starts like this. What day is it? Is this even the beginning of the week? Well, it doesn’t really matter because I’m probably working nights and weekends. I need some coffee.
You know you are an Emergency Medicine physician when you are testing a patient’s orientation and you, yourself are non-oriented to date and time. I always have to look at my watch.
So the truth of Emergency Medicine is, we work day shifts, night shifts, weekends, holidays; typically switching from days to nights on a whim. It was a brutal transition. But once the body is trained to expect this kind of change, it’s doable. I have my very specific sleep mask, earplugs, black out curtains, and noise machine so that no matter what time of day I am sleeping, my brain thinks it’s time to sleep! Ha! Got you Emergency Medicine, so there.
Working in the Emergency Department is like an art, an art like no other. It really is different than any other field. It combines a business and efficiency model with a mixture of really tough, high acuity medicine. I am required to provide good medical care. I am also required to provide fast medical care. Contradicting, to say the least. Hence, the art form.
My typical day consists of seeing many different patients; we don’t turn away anyone in the ED, so depending on who decides to waltz through that door, will determine my fate.
Sometimes I feel like an actor, because it’s physically impossible to feel all the emotions I see in a day. I have to turn on my happy for the patient that gets good news, and then turn on my sad for the patient’s family that receives the worst news they will ever be given.
I care for children, adults, and elderly, dead, alive, I’ve even had a patient try to persuade me to care for their animal. That’s where I have to draw the line.
On a daily basis I see very sick patients and very healthy patients. I run to take care of a trauma patient between delivering news of cancer to another patient. I pull things out of orifices you probably didn’t know existed. I have had the most astound conversations with people, all the while trying to hold back my laughter, smile, or tears. One minute I am suturing a laceration from a beer bottle to the face, the next I am reducing a shoulder dislocation. I counsel patients on drug use, alcohol, and diet recommendations, right before pulling a roach out of a child’s ear. Yep, it’s a dirty job. It is NOT for the faint of heart.
I have learned to live off of protein bars (there are some great ones out there), little water, and infrequent bathroom breaks. I am a master at juggling phone calls, while signing prescriptions, and doing squats at the same time. I have to take advantage of a free minute whenever I can!
The ED pace is set to fast, faster, or lightning fast, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
If you aren’t comfortable with vomit, blood, poop, other bodily fluids, and gore like you could never imagine, perhaps the ED isn’t for you. If you like taking care of large volumes of patients and not having to see them back (except for the regulars), you may prefer the ED. We do a lot of procedures on a regular basis while taking care of some seriously complicated medical cases at the same time. We know all the consultants, as we are the ones they never want to hear from. That is generally because we are taking them from some important family event to see a patient. We typically take the brunt of everyone else’s frustration. Sometimes the patients have been waiting for hours, or are in pain, or just having a bad day. Thick skin is a definite requirement in the ED, and it definitely has made me a stronger individual.
Some say we emergency physicians are jacks-of-all-trades, masters of none. In reality, we are required to be masters of all, and make no mistakes. There is great liability in Emergency Medicine, to make the right decisions and make them quickly. When my shift is over I am physically and mentally drained. But when I go home, I know that I can relax. There is no ‘call pager’ going off to call me back in. On a daily basis, I am reminded of why I should be grateful with my life, and just how precious life is. Emergency Medicine is no walk through the park, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you ever considered the field of Emergency Medicine? What do you think you would enjoy about life in the ED? What other specialties are you interested in? As always, leave any questions or comments below.
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