Sunday, August 30, 2009

At the Cafeteria

It was going to be a late night for me, so I decided to head down to the cafeteria to spend some of my food allowance at the salad bar. I got my salad and a drink and headed for the registers. Being almost 8 pm there was only one register open and a long line. I got in line behind a very tall guy who was wearing special monogrammed scrubs that only certain people in the OR wear.

On a side note, there are so many different colors of scrubs in the hospital, that I cannot keep them all straight. Most residents tend to wear the standard issue scrubs from the scrub machines.

Anyway, I was standing there, sort of spacing out and watching a mom with some cute kids by the napkin dispensers. All of a sudden I hear "whoa, you snuck up on me!" It took me a minute it realize it was the tall guy in front of me, sort of peering down with this strange look on his face. I guess I was short enough that he did not notice me get in line behind him? He eyed my scrubs and my badge and said, "ah, you're sneaky, you must be an anesthesiologist!"

Puzzled, I responded, "uhh... no, I'm not an anesthesiologist." He looked surprised. "You aren't," he asked. "Uhhh... no, I'm a pathologist," I said.

His eyes lit up and he broke into a big grin. "Ahh, pathology, that explains it," he said. "Then you're sneaky and creepy!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Must-Read Article

Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices

The New York Times Magazine has a riveting account of what happened inside New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina. It raises a ton of ethical questions that I hope to never have to think about on the spot. But the reality is we all may have to someday. This is definitely one of the more thought-provoking medical articles I have read in awhile.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


In anatomy lab in medical school I remember being told that breathing in the vapors for hours while dissecting our cadavers could make one feel hungry. It did seem to work for awhile. Not anymore. There is quite a lot of unused money on my food card these days. Now I spend so much time around formalin that I can smell it long after I leave the gross room behind for the day. I'll be at home and get a quick whiff, even after showering. It is very bizarre, and probably not a good thing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

States Update

I was just trying to tally up all of my travels around the U.S. and found a new map for tracking. 40 down, 10 to go. I have vacation in a few weeks, but I am going to re-visit some of my favorite destinations in the Southwest, so I doubt I will knock anymore off. Louisiana would be a long drive away.

visited 40 states (80%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or vertaling nederlands duits?

Saturday, August 15, 2009


On Residency
I have been working a lot these days. If anyone reading this is wondering whether pathology residency has great hours, the answer is sometimes. But at most programs a lot of time will be spent on rotations with much longer hours, like surgicals, hemepath, and even autopsy and blood bank at some programs. It is very hard to work a 14-hour day and come home and crack open the books you need to read to really get a handle on the material. Pathology is a much more reading-intense field than many others.

On Blogging
I wish I had time to write more. It is such nice stress relief. But it has been good to see that some of the bloggers whose stuff I enjoyed, ie Panda Bear, The Fake Doctor, are back in action. Bostonian has a nice post detailing some good reading if you want to catch up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pathology Humor

:::A piece of tumor falls off the grossing table and onto the floor:::

Resident 1: Dude, you dropped your tumor.
Resident 2: Oh, crap, I did.

:::leaning over:::

PA: Quick, 5 second rule!
Resident 2: It's not too late.

:::grabs tumor with forceps:::

PA: Anyone have a Triscuit?
Resident 1: Soft tissue appetizer, anyone?
PA: Yippee, mystery meat!


Yeah, we're a bunch of sick f-cks. But it does make the time go by quicker.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Conversation Killer

I finished autopsy. Well, at least this round of it. There will be a few more months coming up in the future. I'll let you in on a little secret: most people in pathology do not like autopsies. There seems to be this assumption, especially among other doctors, that we must love autopsies. Some people do. If they really do they might go into forensic pathology or take an academic position at a place where a lot of autopsies are done. But many do not, and in this day and age of declining autopsies one can generally find a job where doing them is rare.

Long ago I blogged about what happened when I told people that I was a medical student. Now I can tell you that announcing you are a pathology resident inspires even more weird awkwardness. "Oh, like on CSI, right?" "Pathology?" "Oh, that must be interesting." Or (usually from people with some knowledge of the health professions) "hmmm..." with a stare that implies that I must be social inept/lazy/a serial killer/all of the above. And occasionally, usually from really burned out residents/clinicians, "you are so lucky you made the right choice: no patients, good money, and nice hours."

But imagine the conversation either: 1. actually progress beyond that initial phases or 2. is with someone I know who knows a bit about what I am doing. Now someone asks what I am doing right now. "I'm doing autopsies." Can I just say CONVERSATION KILLER?

Remember what I said above about CSI/social ineptitude/serial killer associations? It all comes back right in that moment. The look of horror comes up. Awkward silence reigns.

Or, the other alternative usually occurs with people who have had some medical training. I am not talking about other MDs. Most MDs I have talked to go into the horror camp, though they don't react as strongly. These other folks react with this very genuine "that must be so interesting!" They then launch into a ramble about how cool it must be, and then suddenly will say something like, "I know it is morbid but I have always wanted to see an autopsy." If the person works at my hospital I usually tell them it could be arranged. I wonder if anyone will ever come and watch one, and would it really be that interesting?