Friday, March 11, 2011

A day in the life of a medical student on her obstetrics rotation

5:20 am Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. Was up way too late trying to figure out what is wrong with my knot tying.

5:30 am Alarm goes off again. Hit snooze again.

5:40 am Alarm goes off. Groan and drag myself out of bed.

5:40 - 6:20 am Shower and dress in scrubs.

6:20 - 6:35 am Make coffee and breakfast (cut apples and peanut butter), walk and feed dog, go through younger son Z's backpack and fill out homework sheet

6:40 am Get in car, upset because I meant to leave by 6:30.

6:30 am - 7:40 am Commute in ridiculous traffic. Make a phone call to the kids' grandmother to tell her I found Z's homework sheet on my coffee table instead of in his folder. Get informed that he didn't have his homework sheet yesterday so they didn't do his homework after school. Wonder why I wasn't told about this, but keep it to myself. She promises they will do yesterday and today's homework today after school. Realize older son, S, never emailed me his science homework to print out the night before, which was already 2 days late and he had lied about not being due. Call roommate / nanny, talk her through printing out his homework from my laptop.

7:40 am - Show up at hospital for a 7:30 am cesarean section.

7:45 am - Finally get to labor and delivery OR. Manage to scrub in before attending, who was already in the room. Curse that he is much more punctual than my general surgery attending was.

8:30 am - Get to tie a few knots in the abdomen. Attending tells me my knot technique is still "invented". Sigh.

8:40 am - 1:00 pm Clinic. Running around taking fetal heart tones, measuring fundal heights, assisting with pap smears and a LEEP. Get to do an ultrasound all by myself! See the embryo moving, and cardiac activity! Manage to print a picture for the happy couple!

1:30 pm Report to OR for adenexal mass procedure. Doctor asks me if I want to grab a sandwich. I say no. He leaves and walks out. I decide I do want to eat, but I need to get cash and my student ID in my car. By the time I get it, eat, and return to the OR pre-op area, I am locked out. My badge doesn't work at this hospital. I finally get in, and they have already wheeled the patient back. Crap. I show up in the OR, and they have already started the surgery. I scrub in, and the scrub nurse in training hands me the towel over the sterile field. I take it, even though I know it's wrong. We both get royally reprimanded by the scrub nurse for contaminating the sterile field. She throws out my gloves. I stand there with no gloves and feel like crying. I finally get gowned and gloved. The attending physician pulls off some really fancy laparoscopic maneuvering, tying off the ovarian ligament with suture and graspers as the external iliac throbs right there in the background. Cool. I GET TO CLOSE!! OK, it was just a tiny port opening, but I do it, and I do a good job. I actually feel comfortable managing the instruments and do some pretty good instrument ties. The PA tells me I did a good job. SQUEEEEEE!

2:45 pm. Back to clinic. More cafe cubano and another pastelito. I am going to gain so much weight on this rotation. More clinic. I love clinic. I manage to do some gringa histories in broken Spanish. La ultima regla? Cuantos hijos tienes?

6:00 pm. The midwife tells me we are heading to the other hospital for a birth. I call my nanny on the way and tell her to get S (Z is going to his dad's tonight). I tell her that there is a frozen steak she can try to defrost if it's not too late, and that I will be coming home if the birth isn't imminent.

6:30 pm Get to hospital. Mom is at 9 and pushy. Wait outside for baby's head to descend a bit more. Round on some postpartum patients. A nurse gives me some suture to practice with. I keep tying knots wrong, and we go in to the room for the birth.

7:29 pm Time of birth. Baby is delivered onto the mom's chest. There is a nuchal cord (cord around the neck) and a true knot in the cord. Baby has 9/9 Apgar scores.

8:00 pm Ask midwife to watch me tie a few knots. She shows me what I am doing wrong. Lightbulb! I remember how to do it right now! Muscle memory is a cool thing. Get in car to drive home. Call roommate / nanny, get an earful about S's attitude about not doing his homework. Also find out they were unable to print his assignment this morning, and he got an F on it. Call his dad, and we discuss ways to handle this. Taking away his birthday party at the end of the month is on the table.

8:40 pm. Get home. Read S the riot act about his homework and attitude. Eat delicious dinner roommate / nanny left for me in microwave. Tell her she is the best wife ever.

9:00 pm. Walk dog. Change kitty litter. Sweep floor. Realize it's too late to call Z and say goodnight. Write blog post. Avoid other obligations.


  1. I have to say, I had three reactions to this post that reflect me more than you:

    1) YOU GOT TO ARRIVE AT 7:40?????? On my Ob rotation we were there at 6:45 for L&D. On gyn onc we were there at 5:30AM.

    2) I can't believe they let you do as much as they did in the OR. That sounded amazing.

    3) In particular because you were LATE two times!!!! Gah!! So unfair. I can't imagine being late to a surgery as a medical student, but had I been I doubt I would have even been permitted to retract, let alone close. Hell, I only closed twice my entire clerkship year.

    I'm glad you're enjoying your rotation, even though I am seethingly jealous. ;-)

  2. We rounded at 5:30 every day on my OB rotation!

  3. On the gyn/onc rotation here, they round at 5:30 am. Unfortunately and fortunately, there isn't an ob/gyn residency at my core site. I am just on the schedule of this private attending ob/ gyn. I will be doing 4th year electives that will have me up earlier, I am sure. But, I don't have to compete with any residents to get to do certain procedures.

    I was really devastated that I was late. Traffic was awful for that time of day. I always aim to scrub in before him, but I blew it twice yesterday. Sigh.

  4. TFH -- I know, I'm just jealous that they are letting you do so much. It sounds like a great rotation for you.

  5. Thanks for sharing your day, and hey, you invented a new knot-tying technique! Looking forward to hearing more about your days and how you fill them in the future.

  6. I recently got my five year old to take over the kitty litter chores - he actually rises earlier than his sis and gets dressed in record speed just to scoop the poop. I wonder how long I can get that to last:)

    Nice to hear you are surviving.

  7. I literally had every reaction Old MD Girl did. I'm really glad you're having such a great time on the rotation, it sounds like an AWESOME experience... I was planning on OB/GYN going into med school, and if my rotation experience had been anything like yours (as opposed to nothing but scut work starting at ungodly o'clock in the morning) I might not have immediately changed my mind!

  8. when I did my ob rotation, I got there at 5:00 AM, seriously! your rotation sounds like a dream! enjoy it while it lasts!

  9. Self-scooping litterbox! So worth it.

  10. 8 am is an anomaly. We rounded on gyn onc at, no joke 4.45am and I'm at L+D sign out at 6.30am. Brutal. The worst is probably night float though. Hours and hours of controlled chaos in between watching strips.

    ..but then there are some good things too.. I'm too tried to remember them right now.

  11. I'm so glad to hear that you get to do so much on your rotation AND that no one made you feel unworthy b/c you were late. You obviously gave your best all day long and were rewarded in turn.

    It's also nice you don't start at the crack of dawn b/c you work plenty late as it is. No jealousy here, just happiness for you that you're so excited about what you're doing and are learning a ton!

  12. I'll echo the jealously felt by a few about your wake up time for Ob/gyn. Fantastic that you are able to juggle it all with friends and family helping out to make sure your kids are taken care of while you assimilate all this new information (and knot tying... I obviously didn't click with that one, hence the move into Internal Medicine). The life of the third year medical student isn't easy: starting a new job at a new site with new bosses every 4 weeks sounds like a nightmare to the average person. Yet we pay insane amounts of money for just that opportunity. Ironic... But good for you for managing it all. It's not easy, but wait until you get to 4th year... it's beautiful.


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