Last night I was an emergency medicine physician.  Last night, I responded to a Code Blue in the intensive care unit of our hospital and intubated a patient.  Last night, I cared for a confused elderly patient with profound heat-stroke.  I sedated a child and opened a large abscess in her leg.  I diagnosed and transferred a patient with an aortic dissection.  (In which the wall of the aorta fills with blood and tears down its length.)

I closed some lacerations and reassured some parents.  I did what I was trained to do.

I did not:  refill a lost prescription for Percocet, Xanax or Klonopin (popular drugs of abuse).  I did not argue with anyone who wanted long term disability for an insect bite.  I did not have to pretend I was a  psychiatrist.  I did not have to deal with questionable back pain or teenage drama.

I did see a teenager whose mother said, ‘the last time you saw her she was two years old, and had swallowed gasoline!’

It’s lovely, and fulfilling, to do the job one is trained to do.  Increasingly, the varied policies and politics of medicine lead us off the path we chose, and try to make us into insurance agents, federal regulators, social workers, drug-rehab counselors, junior attorneys, data-entry clerks or economic watchdogs for a financially devastated culture.

Last night, I was a physician.  I used my hands, my eyes and my brain to treat people who needed me.

And I found that I still love it.


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