Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Last Day of My First Rotation

An infantShe was only a few weeks old and who could blame her for becoming fussy. It was warm enough in the office, but her parent had come in for treatment and that meant waiting, except babies don't generally like waiting very much. There was no television with "Barney" or "The Big Red Dog," to entertain her, so, for better or worse, she was stuck with me.

Babysitting at such times is one of the tasks that falls to the medical student. I mean, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Your attending can't very well say, "You deal with the patient and I'll mind the baby," especially if seeing patients is their livelihood. And that was the case today. So, when she started to cry -- the baby, not my attending -- I picked up her carrier and rocked her -- she liked that because the tears vanished in seconds. Carriers get heavy, I discovered, so I rocked her on my knee the rest of the session. I couldn't help but think of Dr. Bob Z and the twins from Pink Hats. Her parent said afterward, "You're a natural at this." Whether that's true or not, it was one of the nicest things anyone has said to me.

Today was my last day doing full-time osteopathic manipulative medicine. Rotations are about learning in the real world as opposed to the classroom or laboratory and that certainly describes the past four weeks. Like all DO students, I learned my basic OMM skills by practicing on fellow students who possess little if any somatic dysfunction. In a clinical setting, however, people come to see you because they're in pain. You can see it in the way they walk, the ways they carry their bodies, and the expressions on their faces. Maybe they've been injured, have arthritis, or a repetitive strain injury, but whatever the problem, life is miserable because of it and they expect you to help.

For me, touching real patients and learning to do so in a genuinely therapeutic manner has been a wonderful experience. I've thoroughly enjoyed this rotation and frankly, I hate to see it end. I've been privileged to work alongside my preceptor as a team member, while also getting feedback, direction, and gaining confidence at the same time. It's as though, at long last, I know what to do with the tools in my kit besides take them out and polish them occasionally. And to top it off, I got to babysit today. As my father used to say, you can't beat that with a stick. Sounds pretty good to me, dad.

(GNU Free Documentation image via Wikipedia)
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