Secret #19 Work is not quite what I thought it would be…and I’m usually okay with that.

A college student shadowed me in clinic this afternoon. That means she followed me around clinic to see what a half-day in the life of a pediatrician was like. She had followed a family nurse practitioner that morning. They had seen one patient. He cooked her a spinach lasagna for lunch. My jaw dropped when I heard this, and I was immediately envious. One patient? She ate lunch?

Rosie arrived to shadow me at 1:30. I had missed lunch in attempt to finish up my charts from the morning. My neighbor dug up my home internet cable in a massive remodeling project the day before, which meant I couldn’t finish charting at home like I normally do. I had spent the lunch hour trying to get the notes from the morning done before I forgot what had happened in the visits. Skipping lunch meant that I had made up for food in cups of coffee. The tremor was only noticeable if you looked close.

First up was a set of three siblings, 13y, 11y and 7y. . It was a mad visit. Mom was concerned the 7 year old wasn’t sleeping enough. Further interview revealed that she stayed up until her father got home from work at 11pm to say good night and then had to get up at 6 for school.

True. That kid was not getting enough sleep.

The 11year old was mean to his sister and routinely spends his spare change on candy bars and chips, resulting in a heavier weight than his mom desires. When I asked if he was willing to change the way he eats, he rated his desire to change at a 5 on a scale of 10. I thought-ooh! This is a great way to show off my new motivational interviewing skills. I asked why he wasn’t at a lower number, like a 3. He said,” I don’t want to be fat, but I really like chocolate.”

True. I had to give the kid credit. I felt his pain, especially today.

The 13 year old was last. I gave a brief discussion about drugs and alcohol, recommending a weekly check in with his parents about what he sees at school and whether he has been offered anything like alcohol or marijuana. His dad interrupts me to say, “I tell him everyday about drugs and not to do them. He knows not to disappoint me.”

True. But if your kid was at a party being pressured to drink, would you want him to be so afraid of disappointing you that he didn’t call for a ride home?

The afternoon went on. We listened to wheezing, diagnosed strep throat, prescribed antibiotics, discussed the merits of allergy testing, mentioned the advantages of vaccination at every visit.

I handed my stethoscope over so Rosie could listen to a heart murmur and saw joy cross her face as she listened to a heart. Damn, I thought, I used to be like that. I felt a surge of love for my work that I haven’t felt in months.

When I was Rosie’s age, I didn’t think I was smart enough to be a doctor. I definitely didn’t think I had enough money to go to school. Its good to look into the eyes of a newbie. I realize how lucky I am. Now if I could just get internet turned on at home….