Medicine, like most things, is not the same as it appears in movies or on TV. Just as no writer, ever, has typed the words "The End," placed the page on top of a perfectly-aligned stack of paper beside a typewriter, and immediately mailed the manuscript off for publication (possibly leaning back, sighing, and cracking their knuckles first), there are many things I've never done or seen, despite being in medicine for nearly 30 years. Based on TV and movies, however, you'd think they happened all the time.
-I have never, as a physician, worn a white coat (we did have to wear one during training, a short one to show we were students. They're thought to spread infectious diseases since they're so rarely washed!)
-I have never had sex with another physician or nurse in a broom closet at the hospital.
-I have never said "We got it all."
-I have never said "You're cured."
-I have never said "He's in a coma."
-I have never pulled on gloves with my hand in the air and a dramatic snap.
-I have never held a newborn upside down and spanked it immediately after birth.
-I have never watched and interpreted an MRI, performed surgery, supervised a stress test, run some chemotherapy, and then dissected a specimen under a microscope, all in the same day.
-I have never "revived" a dead person using CPR alone (nor have I seen them cough up water and recover from a near drowning incident).
-I have never run to a patient and shone a penlight in their eyes without asking any questions.
-I have never walked out into the waiting room full of people, pulled down my mask, and made a dramatic announcement to anyone who happens to be there.
-I have never said "We're losing her!"
-I have never said "Live, dammit, live!" while pounding my fist on someone's chest.
Of course, it's not just medicine. I'm sure courtrooms are much less dramatic than on TV, and certainly take a lot longer. I'm sure police spend much more of their time doing paperwork and writing out tickets, rather than high speed car chasing. Moments of transcendence as a teacher are few and far between; IT workers probably can't hook up a burnt, mangled computer and obtain all the data they just happen to need. Maybe that's part of the fun, the entertainment: seeing everything differently than it is in reality. Does everyone realize that?
Unless we live something, we have no idea. Screens, of course, do not speak the whole truth. We should never assume we know all about a job until we actually try it.
If only that perfect stack of paper, requiring no revision, was reality...
Hi, I'm Karen. This space is a chance for me to get some of those notebook sessions out there: Motherhood, medicine, writers and writing, the state of the world. Non-published, sometimes non-polished, just a chance to open a discussion. Let me know what you think!