I’ve spent two days, on and off, working on that last blog entry – but somehow I still didn’t anticipate it would scare people. I was surprised to see so many comments and messages this morning.
Turns out maybe there’s no way to write about untreated anxiety / depression in a non-scary way. Interns really shouldn’t be working 80 hour weeks with untreated anxiety. It’s a recipe for a bad time even though I feel like I’m handling it well.
(That’s usually the difference, isn’t it? We all want other people to seek help immediately, but when it comes to our own health, medical people have a deserved reputation for being dilatory as hell.)
I had brunch with a co-intern who I deeply suspected had gone through the same damn thing – and luckily, I was right. He gave me the name of the NP whose job is to see residents for free and make every effort to get them into clinic at a moment’s notice. I’ll get an appointment tomorrow.
I should feel relieved.
Instead, I’m honestly a little irritated that our hospital employees medical professionals explicitly for this purpose and then makes it impossible to find out about them. (Short of having a terse, scary meeting with the Program Director – which is how my co-intern got the numbers in the first place.)
Why make this so hard? How counter-productive is that? Why are hospitals so universally dumb?
… speaking of healthcare being dumb, I’m going to be a little crass and direct you guys to my brilliant friend’s new healthcare and public policy blog.
Because as much as I’m excising my irritation with The Man / The System by complaining about the problems, Mark’s actually working on current efforts to solve them.
And you know, someone has to.
Hey AP, you don’t know me but I’m also an intern, and I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. I’m super glad you’re getting hooked up with the right people. And you’re right–this intern year thing is bullshit. (My day off today was glorious, but hardly enough to make up for the 84.5 hours I worked during the previous six days. Duty hour violations galore! Awesome!)
The more that I think about it — and live it — the more I’m convinced that it’s not just the long hours. It’s also trying to balance patient care with self care — or even having a few minutes to think about what you might need in order to take care of yourself. It’s trying to figure out how to actually accomplish anything when you’re getting paged every 5 minutes to go do something else. It’s the constant, relentless reminders of the limitations of your own knowledge and clinical decision-making ability. And even though I know that thousands of people have gone through residency before me and have come out as thoughtful, caring, well-informed physicians, it’s really hard to keep slogging through this day after day with nothing more than the blind faith that someday I will get to that point myself. Probably. Right?
So thanks for being so honest about how hard this is. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one struggling with being an intern, and that alone makes it feel a little easier to get up and do it all again tomorrow.
Note for others (since you already found a way) medical schools are required to have a designated way to get low cost mental health care without the risk of seeing someone that will eventually grade you. If your (or someone else who reads this blog) residency is affiliated with a medical school, chances are, somewhere on the internet you can find the name of the doc that the medical school is referring everyone to. That person will have experience with healthcare trainees, never teach you, have appointments blockes off each week because there is a rule abour how long students can be made to wait, and always be discreet.
Also, the psych residents will always know how to get care, and will (hopefully) be totally non-judgemental. Psych programs tend to tell people about all the ways they’ll have access to mental health care as a recruiting tool.
good luck. Feel better.
The other thing is stupid frikking work timings! Getting to see a GP or a counsellor would mean taking time OFF work to go and see them. Luckily for us, they make this number easily *available*, just absolutely impossible to access because it is so difficult to take time off work to do something like this. On a busy day when thousands of things need to be done. And so it just spirals out of control because you CAN’T SEE A FRIKKING DOCTOR. I feel your pain.
PS: Hi! Randomly stumbled across your blog a couple of years ago, you are one of my favourite blog reads now! Also, I am at a similar stage to you – just started work after graduating medical school in July. I am too freaking new to this!