Thursday, December 3, 2009

adventures in the reading room

I'm currently taking a radiology rotation. Now, at most schools, radiology rotations entail strolling down to the reading room, looking at x-rays and CT scans with the doctors for a couple hours, then heading home. At our school, the radiology rotations entail 40 hours a week of... watching radiologists do their jobs.

In any case, the rotation is divided into four weeks of different types of images. The first week, I was assigned to watch musculoskeletal images being read (x-rays of broken bones, knee MRIs, etc.).... this week it's neuro (brain CT scans, spine x-rays)... next week it's gastrointestinal/genitourinary stuff, and the fourth week it'll be cardiopulmonary images.

Now we have a weekly schedule telling us which radiologist will be reading which types of images on any given day, so we know whom we'll be with on any given day. The other morning I was assigned to Dr. E, with Dr. S scheduled for the afternoon.

The morning went fine... Dr. E was nice and a good teacher. Then we went to lunch conference, which was being led by my resident. Halfway through, another resident stuck his head in and told him, "Oh hey, apparently Dr. S isn't going to be in until 3:30 or 4."

Now, here is a vitally important difference between third year and fourth year. My third-year self, upon hearing this news, would have gotten dejected, sighed, and thought resignedly, "I guess I'm going to be here late." My fourth-year self immediately thought, "Oh heck no!!!" and instantly began planning how to get out of there.

As soon as the hour was over and we began filing out of the room, I turned to my resident and said incredulously, "Is Dr. S really not going to be here until 4??" ...hoping that he would realize my situation and say, "Oh, you know what? There's no point in you sticking around until then. Why don't you go home?" But instead, he just shrugged. Hmph. Well, that didn't work.

Upon re-entering the reading room, I spotted Dr. E still sitting at a computer monitor. I positioned myself strategically beside him, hoping that he was just finishing up some images from the morning and would soon leave... giving me the perfect opportunity to leave as well. But instead he smiled and said, "Oh, I'm not doing neuro this afternoon, but you're welcome to stick with me anyway," before turning back to the screen.

Oh no no no no no. This would not do. I might very well learn valuable information from Dr. E if I stayed with him through the afternoon, but I was not about to risk being kept there with Dr. E until 3:45, and then having Dr. S show up and being obliged to follow him until who-knows-when.

So I did what a third-year student would never do. I waited until an appropriate pause in his dictating, then spoke up smilingly, "Um, Dr. E? If you're not doing neuro this afternoon, and Dr. S isn't going to be here until 4, is it okay if I just go home and get some studying done?" "Oh, sure, go ahead," he replied benignly.

Fourth year? Is awesome.

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