One Week Down, Three to Go…

Today, I finished my first week of work at HUP. I have never worked a 45 hour week before so this was a very new experience for me. Including travelling on the train and driving to the train station, my actual work week was 55 hours long. I helped to raise $2,500 (I’m on track to meet my goal of $10,000) and I submitted applications for a number of patients so the money should continue to roll in next week. Needless to say, I am quite tired; but I am very happy that I chose to work at Penn for my senior project. It has allowed my to make a more educated decision whether or not I want to go into medicine. This has only reaffirmed my faith that medicine is the career for me. One thing that I realized today is that hospitals never close. I’m sure that as you are reading this, you’re thinking yeah of course hospitals never close. But this never exactly clicked for me until I was leaving at 5:30. As I was walking out of the front door of the hospital with a fair crowd of people, there was another group of people walking in, ready to start their day. There is no mass exodus from the hospital, there will always be a staff of people working there and that thought comforts me. As a doctor, I won’t be the last person in the office and I love that.

I have been regularly attending meetings and conferences as a part of my job. It is very nice because not only will this help me accomplish my goal of learning about the oncological branch of medicine, but there is always great catered food there. I attended one on how to treat VIP patients (fabulously wealth ones), one on hospice care and terminal patients and a few others. I couldn’t believe what I heard at the VIP patient meeting, apparently there are people that come to an outpatient part of the hospital and are surprised that they have to wait at all. Understandably, this can be nerve-wracking for nurses and doctors. But there is another special aspect to these patients. When the pass away, they have the potential to make large donations back to the hospital. This is how new buildings are built and how hospitals grow and develop. The meeting on hospice care amazed me and almost brought me to tears at one point. It discussed whether or not to tell people that they are going to die and the involvement of the family. Some people brought up cases of patients at CHOP as young as three years old. I am sorry that I can’t tell the stories that they told. HIPAA law makes it a federal crime to break patient-doctor (or me) confidentiality. I can not imagine telling the family of a three-year old child that they are going to die so I will not go into pediatrics. People discussed whether or not to tell the child that they were terminal and at what age can children comprehend the concept of death. This brought the reality of dying right in front of my face. It occurs all the time in a hospital and could happen to anyone at any point. I will have to learn to accept this better or this will be a difficult four weeks.


One thought on “One Week Down, Three to Go…

  1. Karen Gallagher

    Matt, I have appreciated reflections this week. Your experiences with hospice discussions are especially poignant. I have experienced first-hand in my extended family the patient/family side of this decision and have learned how important it is to work with a caring and compassionate staff. It serves as a constant reminder of the human dimension in the art and practice of medical care.

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