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Rick Pescatore, DO @Rick_Pescatore
, 16 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
I get asked a lot why I chose to become an ER doctor. To close out 2018, I wanted to share a small story. (1/16)
As 3rd year medical students we rotate among all of the medical specialties, learning everywhere from primary care offices to state-of-the-art operating rooms. I loved every rotation, and on a daily basis changed my career plans, so enthralled with every possibility. (2/16)
Emergency Medicine had always held special allure--isn't that where all the cool stuff happens? The heart attacks, strokes, gunshot wounds...the exciting pace that TV shows had promised me for years..
I was wrong. (3/16)
Exciting, fast-paced stuff certainly does happen in the ER. Ive had my fair share of TV moments, riding stretchers thru the ER performing CPR, slashing through skin and tissue to save a life-but such moments are the exception-not the rule-to the daily practice of EM.(4/16)
Most of what we do is rote. Coughs and colds. Aches and pains. We are "availabilists," where Americans often turn out of necessity or convenience. Often there is true disease we can help correct, but definitely not the constant Hollywood-style resuscitations TV promised.(5/16)
So one day as a rotating 3rd year student, a young woman came into my ER. Her tooth had broken and she was in a ton of pain--it hurts like hell when the nerve root is exposed to air. She had no insurance. No money. No hope of seeing a primary doctor, much less a dentist.(6/16)
She was homeless, poor, selling her body for money and then watching those dollars disappear to overseers and oppressors. She spent her days being neglected, abused, and degraded. She came to us out of desperation. The ER is always open.(7/16)
I remember the tenderness with which she was treated by my supervising doctor, the compassion and understanding. This wasn't one of the life-threatening diseases or harrowing injuries the attending had been trained for, but she treated it no differently than if it had been.(8/16)
"Don't worry, we'll take care of you." (9/16)
And she did. She coordinated the medicines the patient needed, even getting a local pharmacy to dispense the abx for free, knowing our patient would find even a nominal charge insurmountable. She brought social resources to bear, providing-but not forcing-opportunity.(10/16)
And she fixed the tooth. (11/16)
With a combination of materials commandeered from around the hospital, online tutorials, and relentless determination, she taught herself how to mend the patient's shattered tooth. I watched as the woman's pain evaporated in front of my eyes.(12/16)
After the patient was discharged, I spoke with my attending--What was that all about? Why is an ER doctor performing minor dentistry? Where is that in the ACLS algorithm or Sepsis bundle?(13/16)
I will never forget what she told me. (14/16)
We are the safety net. The front line and the final chance. We're not here just to save lives, but to make them better, in any way we can, if only for a little while, no matter what. (15/16)
That was the day I knew I wanted to be an ER doctor, and I remember that conversation every time I'm feeling run down by a difficult stretch or challenging interaction. I'm proud to help make people better--anyone, anytime--no matter what. (end)
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