Saturday, July 01, 2006

Free Clinic and a Lot of Books

Today I gave up sleeping in to volunteer at the free clinic run by the students at my school. I saw three patients. One had a swollen leg, one had severe abdominal pain secondary to a hernia operation from a year ago, and one just needed prescription refills. The doctor wanted an ultrasound done on the patient with the swollen leg to rule out a deep venous thrombosis, and put me in charge of getting it set up with the hospital. Unfortunately, the US techs don’t work on Saturdays, and only come in for emergencies, so my call was bounced back and forth among several departments. After being told they would call me back, and waiting over an hour for the call, the doctor finally just bypassed to usual routes and called someone higher up directly, with the result being that the patient was able to have the US done this afternoon. Thankfully the patient was one of the most patient people I have met, and was very nice about having to sit around for several hours. Of course it’s not as if it was our fault, or even the hospital’s that it took so long, but it is amazing how many people don’t understand that sometimes things take time.

The patient needing medication refills was a type II diabetic who has done a remarkable job of controlling her diabetes just by diet. Unfortunately, her blood pressure medications have not been sufficient to adequately control her hypertension, so the doctor had to up the dose of her diuretic. But, since diuretics of this type can cause an increase in renal excretion of potassium, she will have to have bloodwork in a couple weeks to make sure that she is not hypokalemic (low blood potassium). Sadly this means she will have to go through the several-hour-long line all over again since student-run first-come-first-serve free clinics are not the fastest moving clinics on the planet.

Working at the free clinic is always a good experience, particularly the first two years, since it allows one to put into practice concepts taught in lecture, as well as practice skills such as writing notes. It also at times teaches one to work with people of different personalities, such as the first-year student who started drilling me as to why I asked the patient certain questions, and arguing with the way I wrote up notes. It kind of took me by surprise, since when I was a first year I looked up with awe at upperclassmen and would never have actually argued with them about something that presumably they were better at than me, but now that I look back on this morning, I think the first year was honestly just trying to learn, but just doesn’t know how to ask questions in a non-antagonistic way. Thankfully, I tend to be more amused than irritated at people with different personalities, so I was very polite and nice about it.

After clinic, I visited a used book store that I have heard about, but never gone to. 18 books and $73 dollars later, I came home. I got quite an assortment of books, including Sayers, Marsh (I cleaned out the entire Marsh section), Stout, Schmitz, Tolstoy, and a book on the Tudors. The book on the Tudors was randomly chosen to accommodate my desire to read more non-medical non-fiction. It could happen. I am currently reading Ann Coulter's "Godless", but that is another post.

As I was leaving one section of the book store, a man, assuming that I worked there, asked me if the scifi section was separate from the regular fiction, and if so, where it was. Fortunately, minutes before I had found the scifi section hidden in the corner (it is a large book store, and while each section is well organized, figuring out where the sections are is difficult), so I was able to point it out to him. The question is, was it my scholarly, obviously intelligent face that caused him to think I must work in a book store, or was it the (then 17) books I was balancing in one arm while browsing with the other?

(Despite the fact that combined with rotations I am not going to get through these books for months, I just got a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday, and I assure you I have every intention of using it. Today.)


Anonymous HV said...

Keep up the great attitude and patience!

I am still laughing about Campylobacter jejuni.


8:34 PM  

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