There comes a time in every profession when the study part recedes into the background, and the experiential part begins.It was rewarding to have family and friends heap praise and admiration on Michael,Catherine and Joseph, but now was the time when the rubber would meet the road. This was the reality in their third year of medical school.Michael was assigned to Lakenau Hospital in Philadelphia,Catherine stayed at Jefferson, and Joseph began his medical internship at Hunterdon Medical center.The night before internships began they had a few beers at the bar in the Billings hotel.Their laughter and teasing were thin facades that covered the anxiety of the unknown.Academically they had mastered their course work, but this was different.From tomorrow on it would not be merely responding to a professor ,it would actually be in direct care of patients. At the end of the evening they agreed to meet the following Sunday to discuss their medical adventures.
Michael as was his custom arrived at the hotel bar fifteen minutes before Catherine and Joseph showed up. He was ashen from the lack of sleep, and had adsorbed too much caffeine every day for a week.Catherine and Joseph upon arrival were no less exhausted and the evening began slowly with none of the three willing to begin recounting the weeks experiences. Finally Michael broke the ice.”I was really nervous before I saw my first patient but checking myself in the mirror and putting on what I thought to be my professional Doctor face, arrived at the door of my first patient.Sidney Bergman was a fifty five year old man that had been hospitalized with a heart condition. I entered his room and said”Good morning Mr.Bergman and before I could say another word the guy makes a grunting sound and slumps over in the bed.In sheer panic I raced to the nursing station and called the resident.Mr.Bergman had died, and I thought this is not a great way for me to begin patient care.”
Next it was Catherine’s chance to describe her initial voyage into patient care.”As you well know Professor Larkin has little affection for female medical students so I was assigned by him to change the dressing of one of his patients.Little did I know that the man had been caught by his wife in bed with another woman.Her response was to shoot his penis off.So my first moment as an intern was cleaning what was left of his private area.I thought to myself while cleansing the area that this is not what my mother had in mind for her daughter the Doctor.”
Michael and Joseph roared with laughter,and then Joseph took his turn at true confessions “My first patient was a forty year old man that needed a cast. He had fallen down a flight of stairs, and had broken his right leg.I started out pretty well but had a hell of a time getting the damn thing even on both sides.By the time I finished the cast was so heavy that the guy could barely stand. He asked me if the cast was larger than normal .I immediately told him that the reason it was so large was because his injury was the most unique one I had ever treated.”
So the first week of the “Three Musketeers” medical careers had finished ,and would be followed by months of lack of sleep,monumental challenges and the growing knowledge and confidence that this is where they would make a difference in the world.