Jacob Lentz attended the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is in his first year at UCLA Emergency Medicine Residency Class of 2019. Prior to medical school, Jake worked as a comedy writer for the Jimmy Kimmel Live Show for 8 and a half years. Here at Pondering EM, Jake blogs about his journey through EM residency.
Life and age generally teach you to be cautious with first impressions. But then, our brains operate on a lot of levels we don’t see. If brains weren’t constantly filtering and processing input and telling us what to do, we would likely not last very long as a species. On the other hand, if we were aware of all the stimuli being judged by our brains, we would probably go completely mad.
Right, so let’s get on with what I think about my first week of residency.
I met my co-interns – all twelve – on Monday, each as fresh out of medical school as I am. My biggest relief was discovering that all of them seem extremely friendly and humble – all definitely much smarter than I am. They’re funny, interesting people, and since we’re going to be together for four years, finding out that I like all of them has been the best discovery this week.
The second best discovery – which I sort of knew, but it turned out to be true – is how dedicated the faculty at my program is to teaching. Not just lip service – they all seem wonderfully committed to the Latinate root of the word ‘doctor.’ And not just the teaching-teaching – the program itself is ridiculously well-designed and resident-focused. So far I’m delighted to be here, which means that when I am inevitably kicked out I’ll ask Robbie to delete this paragraph.
We haven’t seen any patients yet – it’s just been orientation, processing of paperwork, and EM-specific teaching. I’ve concluded that the residency coordinators who keep tabs on all our paperwork and make our schedules and do a thousand other things on our behalf are wonderful human beings. They are, without a doubt, dedicated to making our lives easier. I already love them. One of them yesterday said, ‘You worry about saving my life, and I’ll keep the paperwork under control.’ Anyone who works hard at doing their job well is impossible to dislike.
But oh my is there a lot of paperwork. It seems nobody thinks about the net sum of paperwork required to do much of anything anymore, including being a doctor. Reams and reams of paper, much of it duplicate, much of it repeated when something gets lost, each for a different fiefdom within the hospital or the government. There’s also been a great deal of training time on the electronic medical record system (a law in the States required everyone to switch to electronic medical records, which was promised to usher in a golden age of efficiency and cost-savings, and so far it appears to have had the effect of making a lot of physicians retire early because of the cumbersome design and the expectation that every note will be a novel). Everyone’s deepest and most personal information is now stored on a few servers around the country, so it’s just a matter of time before all that data gets stolen and there’s a big national debate about who thought this was a good idea in the first place.
Anyway, a week in and I’m about as happy as I ever get about anything, which means it’s most certainly about to be really terrible for at least four years. Anyway, I have to cut this short, as I’m off to be certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
Heaven help us all.