Sunday, April 13, 2008

Late Nights and Long Shifts

The day this picture was taken at 3 in the morning, the local trauma room was quiet. It certainly doesn't take much for it to become the most active place in the hospital in a matter of minutes. Just this past week, this room alone was used to stabilize, save and improve the life of dozens of individuals. The occasional and emotional loss of life occurs inevitably, but you had better believe the room is usually in shambles as a result of all the effort put forth to overcome another expiration.

I love my job. As an Emergency Department Technician we may do a lot of the so called "dirty" work, but it has its perks. Watching people get better usually ranks among the better ones. If we aren't doing CPR, starting intravenous (IV) access, drawing blood, collecting urine or stool samples, then we are probably transporting patients to radiology, their longterm rooms, monitoring their vital signs or preparing for the next ambulance to arrive. Usually working long 12 hour shifts, the work-week commonly only requires three shifts, translating to four days off.

With an understanding that medical school will be quite expensive simply for the education itself - not to mention housing, car and other expenses - paying off any existing debt now will certainly help down the road. I commonly pick up extra shifts to help buffer the onslaught of bills and rising prices in all markets. Being at the bottom of the totem poll though, means that I work the graveyard shifts quite frequently in addition to some of the other unwanted shifts. Not always the most pleasant of circumstances, but at least it pays to have the experience in preparation for long hours as a physician.

There is something great to be said about working hard and earning money for your own efforts. I've always enjoyed working and earning, but I have always had a hard time spending. Usually looking for ways to save or invest my income, I find it difficult to incur so much debt at this point in my life. As a rule of thumb, I make it a point to invest 10% and save 30% of my net earnings, leaving 60% to go towards bills and other expenses. Now I know this will likely have to be modified as the income stops and the payments start, but in the meantime I have the plan to keep me on track. For some other tips and ideas, you might want to head over to the Poor MD blog.


  1. No kidding on the Trauma Rooms...

    On New Years Day (the first few minutes) the ER I work at went from almost nothing, to the first trauma of the night being a multiple stabbing that lost his pulse somewhere in the ambulance. (The ambulance crew was surprised when we announced he had coded when the Trauma Team did the initial assessment. Grrrrr). They ended up doing a thoracotomy because he may have only been down minutes. WOW. Anyways, it's pretty obvious he didn't make it, but I get what you mean by craziness. Best of luck buffering the pending financials. If there is anyone that can do it well, it's you Josh!

  2. Josh,

    I think it's awesome that you can do the ER. I am going to school to become a nurse right now and I don't know that I could handle the constant ups and downs of the ER. You have always been someone who genuinely cares and that is an important aspect in the medical field. I think a lot of doctors and nurses seem to loose sight of that. I think you will definately make an awesome impact to all of the patients and coworkers that you come in contact with. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the comment. I must admit, there are PCPs that are more responsible, but then, they are also the ones that aren't taking new patients because their practice is already established. It's hard to be a PCP, and the whole system is in need of help, but this could be one way to start. As for why the patients aren't admitted, usually has something to do with no beds being available, and if you come in through the ER and then get admitted, at least the ER has to keep you until you get a bed, wheras the patient who is a direct admit can be told to wait until a room is available. Man. Sorry, didn't mean to write a thesis on this. I just had a trying shift the other day, I think this is what brought on the rant and rave. How are things at UVRMC?


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