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I was appalled to read “Thirty-Four Hours a Day” (6/6) by Jennifer Walker. I have so many issues with this “Real Story.” I am currently seeking a bachelor of arts in biology at the University of Texas in Dallas, and I plan on attending medical school, as well as completing a residency in pediatrics. I was under the impression the purpose of a residency was to further education and experience in the medical field. Although Walker seems to agree with this notion, we do not agree on the fact that 34-hour shifts help further develop a doctor’s abilities.
Let me start from the story’s beginning, when Walker starts to reminisce about her days in high school, when “[her] college peers couldn’t wait to reach 21, [but she] aspired only to the number 4.0.” Reading this sentence not only gives me the impression Walker is a pompous individualwhich, might I add, is confirmed when she proclaims herself God later in the articleit also gives me insight into her personality. Being around others and hanging out with friends helps a human develop necessary socializing skills. Perhaps because of a lack of socializing, Walker may have achieved a 4.0; however, can she relate to people on an emotional level? Healing patients should not be a doctor’s only prerogative. In addition, giving patients emotional support is important. People need to trust their doctor; therefore, a relationship is necessary.
My suspicion of Walker’s being incapable of this compassion was confirmed when she went on to explain her typical on-call experience by starting her day off with “15 minutes to examine 20 patients and find their well-hidden recorded vitals (crafty nurses).” How can one possibly answer every question a patient has and assure that every concern will be taken care of in less than a minute? Oh, I forgot: She probably just refers patients to those “crafty nurses.”
When I first started to read the article, I was impressed to see that Congress was concerned about the heavy load placed upon residents. I must agree: People need sleep! Walker proves this argument when saying she has to “make crucial decisions for all the patients just admitted…making essential judgments as [she fights] off the inclination to faint.” Or how about when she is “struggling to address the questions asked by concerned family members…calling patients ‘Sir,’ because [she] can’t even remember [her] own name”?
Still, Walker continues to boast about how “selfless” she is during this time. If you ask me, she’s not being selflessshe’s being a bad doctor. She doesn’t even know her patients’ names! Perhaps I am early in my career as a doctor, but I would like to think knowing your patients’ names is essential.
I couldn’t believe how wonderful this woman thinks having a 34-hour day is. By the end of her workday, nurses have done the work for her, she has spent an average of two minutes, if that, with each patient, and her saving grace has been a splash of water and a drag of a toothbrush across her teeth. She speaks more fondly of the food given to residents by the pharmaceutical companies than the lives she has possibly saved. She writes, “Thank God for ludicrously inflated prescription medication costs.” Yeah, I can see how the best care and treatment for her patients are concerns. After all, without that money, she wouldn’t be having such a great lunch!
I pray to God I don’t ever become the doctor this woman is becoming.
Silver Spring, Md.