It was rare in a residency program that there was any fanfare to the appointment of chief resident.The position was largely one that encompassed creating the schedule for all of the residents, but was in fact more of a nuisance than an honor. However this was not the case for Michael in his fifth year of the program.Dr Carol Gunn a much loved and respected vascular surgeon had campaigned to formally have a nominating process for the position, ,and use the person selected as a role model for the new residents. Michael was unanimously selected by his peers and the surgical staff.He had developed outstanding technical skills, but what made him extraordinary was his ability to create bonds with the entire staff as well as the patients.Along the way the story of his tragic family history had surfaced ,and even Dr Skeffington his first year nemesis had written favorable reports on his stay at Bellevue.
To formalize the new responsibilities Dr Gunn had arranged an early morning coffee where she glowingly spoke about Michael .At this event there was also the opportunity for other residents, and a few seasoned staff members to chime in. It was an hour of praise ,and to some degree a roast. At the end Michael was requested to say a few words, Dr. Gunn asked him to develop the basis for his approach to the care of patients not only in the OR but post surgery. Michael was somewhat embarrassed by the praise of the morning and wanted to keep things light before everyone would go back to the chaotic schedule of the hospital.
“I want to thank Dr.Gunn and all of you for taking time out of your day to formally honor me with you praise and pathetic attempts at humor.I find it hard to believe that so much time has passed and this will be my last year at Bellevue.Thanks to the staff and the patients I now believe more deeply in the words spoken to me in my interview for the residency program. Dr.Ron Fournier told me that even though I had the title dr. coming out of med school I was not truly a real dr. That title would have genuine meaning when I became immersed in the surgical world of Bellevue. Truer words were never more on target. I am sure that you will find through the peaks and valleys of being residents that in the end it is more than worth it.”
Before closing Michael touched on the world of pain and suffering that happens every day in the hospital . He said he had been touched by so many experiences, and that suffering can also be something that leads to personal growth for the patient and the surgeon as well. All those in attendance were aware of the personal tragic history of Michael’s family and were anticipating that he would recount what he had been through. Michael began to more deeply speak about personal suffering and said.” I must admit that I know suffering at a level that is beyond imagination. I have been a New York Jets fan for years, and no one suffers more than a Jets fan.”The gathering braced for the tearful history of Michael’s family roared with boisterous shouts and laughter at the statement.
Leaving the conference room after the gathering Michael stopped by his mail box which was filled to the brim. As he entered his office he began to drink the third cup of coffee since rising, and sat at his desk sorting through the mail. Most of it was immediately filed into the waste paper basket but one was strikingly different. It appeared to be from the United States Government. Michael opened the letter and could not believe his eyes. Michael had been drafted and ordered to report to camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.