An undergraduate’s day in the emergency department

Emergency entrance

Junior RIBHAV GUPTA, who hopes to pursue a career in medicine, wrote about his experiences shadowing an emergency room doctor in Scope, the School of Medicine’s award-winning blog.

Here is an excerpt of his piece:

“Before I spent a day shadowing a physician recently, I saw emergency medicine as a romantic field, doctors rushing from room to room, saving the lives of patient after patient. At least that is what I hoped. Then came an awareness of how much seemed driven by numbers, science and technology. I had begun to believe that medicine was all about filling in charts and searching through books to determine the pathophysiology of a disease.

“Instead, I found that in the emergency room, it wasn’t a mad dash to save lives and maximize patients seen. Doctors’ decisions, though influenced by biometrics, were also qualitatively driven. The doctors took time to listen to the patient tell their story, at times reciting horrors. They asked questions more often than running tests or checking vitals.

“The doctors were more than scientists in that moment; they were human. They didn’t simply care about the patient’s symptoms. They cared for the patient in every sense, whether that involved providing pain relief or social workers or a shoulder to cry on. …

“Before shadowing, I thought I knew how the medical industry functioned. But then I saw what it was truly like for those on the front lines. The workflow was nonstop and fatiguing (I got tired and all I did was shadow). There are rough cases and less-than-glamorous tasks.

“But at the end of the day, it seemed to me that the work brought about a sense of happiness for the doctors. I was relieved to find that even after years of work, these professionals didn’t seem cynical.

“Ultimately, I realized that doctors share a common motivation: Everyone deserves a quality life. The doctors I shadowed genuinely embraced this motto and used it to fuel their daily efforts.”

Visit Scope to read the entire first-person piece Gupta wrote.