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"I Was Meant to be an Emergency Room Physician"

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"I Was Meant to be an Emergency Room Physician"

Aug 27, 2020

No matter how passionate you are, doubt from others can do wonders in bringing you down. In this mentor moment, Leen thinks back to a moment she observed as a med student in the emergency room and reflects on how watching someone else's passion reignited hers.

Episode Transcript

Since the day I decided I wanted to do emergency medicine, the amount of negative feedback I got was ridiculous. I remember people telling me things from, "Your lifestyle's going to suck," to, "Your patient's population's going to be so difficult to work with." Even people telling me, "ED doctors are the dumbest doctors. We don't trust their work." That put a lot of self-doubt in my choice of wanting to do emergency medicine.

But on my first night shift ever in the emergency department, I'm sitting with the attending in his office. It's about 2:00 a.m. and we get a notification saying that there's a really critical patient and they're going to be using our parking lot to transfer the patient from an ambulance to a helicopter. But the patient's not going to come into the ED at all.

We get word that the ambulance arrived and the attending said, "Hey, let's just go out there and just eyeball the patient to make sure they're okay."

As we're heading out, we see this helicopter in the distance. And I remember my attending just yelling at me, like, "Duck down." And so we end up sprawling underneath the cars in the parking lot as this helicopter descended from above us. And as soon as it landed, we made our way to the ambulance, and we realized the patient was being bagged. They weren't intubated. There was just so much stuff that needed to be done in order to further stabilize this patient for transport on a helicopter.

That's when my attending made the decision, "No, we need to take this patient inside," which freaked the staff out because they're like, "We're at a small hospital. We're not going to know how to accommodate things." He was insisting. He's like, "No, we've got to take him in because it's going to be way harder to do these procedures on the helicopter that's flying in the air, moving, than it will be in our ED."

So me and the doctor, we roll the patient into the ED. The emergency doctor really took lead at that point, where this doctor does pretty much everything and he stabilizes the patient and he's able to, like, control the room, and he's such a great leader.

My biggest fear is to come up onto a scene where someone is like absolutely sick or hurt and I can't do anything. And this is exactly what the doctor did, is he came up to the scene where this patient was absolutely sick and injured and there was nothing that this hospital could provide, but he ended up providing so much.

And I remember thinking like, "This guy is freaking amazing." He's just jumping around this entire patient. He was a one-man hospital. He was at the head of the bed at one instance, and he was putting the tube down and intubating the patient, and cutting the side of the chest, putting in a chest tube, ultrasounding the patient. And I'm sitting there and I'm just like handing towels, handing whatever he calls for.

And finally, we packaged the patient up, and we rolled him out back into the parking lot and put him onto the helicopter, and they ended up flying away.

I never got to actually work with that attending again. And I actually don't even really remember his name, but the image of him just dealing with everything, doing all the work that had to be done, formed the image of how powerful an emergency physician can actually be. And it melted away all those judgments that I had and all the doubts that I had from other people telling me how awful the field would be.

From there on out, I decided, "No, this is the field I have to do." And so here I am as a . . . what am I? I'm a first-year resident. And I realized when it comes to success, when it comes to truly being the best at whatever you want to be, you have to follow your heart. Every time I was in the emergency room, it was great. I knew this was where I wanted to be, and I just had to push all those voices back and realize I was meant to be in the emergency room as an emergency physician.