deomnibusdubitandum

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Dec 1, 2016
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I've recently started a job as a critical care tech at a busy trauma center which, suffice it to say, has given me a completely new perspective of medicine. I'm still new enough to everything that I get a sense of euphoria just being in the E.R. (it makes me feel like I'm on an episode of grey's anatomy sometimes lol). Despite this, I've had some serious doubts. I tend to question whether I'm suitable and capable enough to work in such a high-stress environment. I even get to the point where I'm quite intimidated to be in a part of the hospital with patients bordering on death. Maybe it's a bit hyperbolic, but I do feel like a lot rests on my shoulders when I'm working at the hospital now. What I'm trying to ask is if this is normal. Are most emergency room doctors/surgeons completely confident and cool-headed? Or is it just human to be nervous and doubt in yourself on occasion. Of course I won't have to decide on residency anytime soon, but it does make me wonder if I'd be better suited in a clinical setting even if I'm more emotionally attracted to high-stress specialties. Thoughts?
 

Govols22

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Nov 30, 2015
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Some specialities are more intense and high stress than others. There are some specialties where you rarely need to worry about death when treating patients, and there are specialties where preventing death is the bulk of your job.

In regards to confidence, most doctors are fairly confident they know what they are doing. 181738 years of training does that.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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While there are some people who will collapse under stress no matter what, most people will simply drop to the level of their training, and repeat exposure will get you used to it.

Also, as mentioned there are specialties that have little to no exposure to that sort of environment.
 
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Gurby

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Jul 28, 2014
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I've recently started a job as a critical care tech at a busy trauma center which, suffice it to say, has given me a completely new perspective of medicine. I'm still new enough to everything that I get a sense of euphoria just being in the E.R. (it makes me feel like I'm on an episode of grey's anatomy sometimes lol). Despite this, I've had some serious doubts. I tend to question whether I'm suitable and capable enough to work in such a high-stress environment. I even get to the point where I'm quite intimidated to be in a part of the hospital with patients bordering on death. Maybe it's a bit hyperbolic, but I do feel like a lot rests on my shoulders when I'm working at the hospital now. What I'm trying to ask is if this is normal. Are most emergency room doctors/surgeons completely confident and cool-headed? Or is it just human to be nervous and doubt in yourself on occasion. Of course I won't have to decide on residency anytime soon, but it does make me wonder if I'd be better suited in a clinical setting even if I'm more emotionally attracted to high-stress specialties. Thoughts?
I have a pretty vivid memory of my first shift as an EMT - we drove to Dunkin Donuts in the morning after checking over the truck, and I remember envying the employees there for having such a low-stakes job. I think it's probably normal to feel that increased level of responsibility. Work hard and be good at what you do - people are depending on you to be on your game.
 

@Hazel-rah

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May 22, 2016
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Yes, I can totally relate. Just try to stay calm and find a buddy to talk about each shift with. Be sure to reflect on your experiences. See if you can work some night shift, when you'll maybe have some time to decompress and ask questions around 4am...

Once you get a year or two experience, you'll stay level headed and know what to expect. For now, just remember your Airway, Breathing, Circulation! Take ACLS or sit in on ATLS, too!

To answer your question, Yes, emergency physicians and trauma surgeons have had years of training, so they know what to do in almost any situation and have to have a lot of confidence to lead the team.

This is a great time to journal, writing stories of interesting cases, mistakes, lessons learned, how you feel. This is totally normal and as they said, will fade over time. Some folks eventually choose to work in much lower stress environments. Critical care and ED are at the end of the spectrum, just under flight, military trauma, and disaster relief medicine....
Good luck!
 
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wholeheartedly

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I'd say that's normal, and honestly reassuring. It's the people who don't have a bit of anxiety and whatnot that concern me. It means you understand the seriousness of what you're doing and are someone who likely will strive to do a good job and keep learning.

As noted above, most people grow into their roles and responsibilities over time, a few don't. Working at a teaching hospital, it was kinda neat watching the somewhat lost and awkward residents find their feet and start really running the show well.

It's also worth noting that just because someone seems cool and collected, doesn't mean they always feel that way inside. I've been told several times both at work in the hospital and outside that I'm calm in a crisis, but I sure as hell didn't feel that way on the inside. I know others who've felt the same.
 
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Tenk

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Jan 5, 2007
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I still remember the first time I ran a code in the ED as an intern. My attending got two chairs, put his butt on one and his feet on another and said alright go.

I probably looked pale as a ghost because I had no idea wtf I was doing.

Now I can run codes in my sleep (and do sometimes!). With experience comes knowledge. You're fine. If you have any specific questions about emergency medicine feel free to PM me or quote me on here.
 

workaholic181

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May 29, 2017
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Totally normal reaction. You'll more than likely grow to love it.

If not, several of the FM docs I shadowed said they chose family medicine for the lack of stress and up pace, so there really is an huge variability in type of practice you can have.
 

djtallahassee

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Mar 8, 2017
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I still remember the first time I ran a code in the ED as an intern. My attending got two chairs, put his butt on one and his feet on another and said alright go.

I probably looked pale as a ghost because I had no idea wtf I was doing.

Now I can run codes in my sleep (and do sometimes!). With experience comes knowledge. You're fine. If you have any specific questions about emergency medicine feel free to PM me or quote me on here.
First code I saw while volunteering pretty much confirmed I wanted to be in medicine. Watching the doc remain cool while managing everything was an awesome experience. Can't wait to be there someday.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
 
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