Move Over House MD

A couple of days ago, when I was examining a new referral, who was another patient with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the patient’s family asked me, “Are you the doctor we saw on TV?” Then it dawned on me that the TV News footage that was shot in our office two weeks ago (see previous post here), must have been aired already. Am I now a celebrity?

After I asked them when did they see me, they told me that the TV news clip about the patient with ALS, whom I examined was shown the night before. And I did not even see myself on broadcast. I missed my own TV premier!

Fortunately the video clip was in the local TV News website, which I checked later that day. Finally I was able to watch myself on the news. Man, I was really on TV. Move over House, MD!

I'm a TV smash. This type of smash!

As I remember it, the TV news crew was in our office for more than an hour shooting that footage, including the patient performing the breathing test and me examining him. I was with the patient for about 20-25 minutes getting his history , performing my examination, going over his breathing test, and discussing management plans and prognosis with him and his family. The camera was rolling throughout and I even had a microphone placed on me the whole time.

When I viewed the final product of the film clip which was 6 minutes long, I found that they showed me for a total of 2 seconds. Only two seconds! They showed a close-up of my hand holding a stethoscope even longer than they showed my face! Don’t they like my Brad Pitt-like image?

But that’s alright, at least I was not edited out altogether. And besides the news clip was not about me but about my patient who was raising awareness of his untreatable disease and raising funds for an organization he founded to help other patients with ALS and their family. My appearance was incidental.

Later that day, a friend from our church e-mailed me and told me that they saw me on TV. Then when I was making my rounds in the hospital the other day, a nurse approached me and beamed that she saw me on the news. Even people from our office told me that they also saw me on TV. Obviously, even with my 2 seconds of fame, people have recognized me. In the word of my kids, “Dad, you’re famous.”

So for good measure, I am now carrying a pen all the time. I am being ready, just in case somebody approach me and ask for an autograph.

(*image of TV from here)

My Entourage

When you watch medical drama on TV, like House M.D. (no, I don’t watch medical drama, for that will remind me of work, and that is not relaxing), you will see a team of doctors round and deliberate on each patient. That may not be necessarily true everywhere, but that is the case in academic hospitals.

I remember when I was a 4th year medical student in the Philippines at UST, when a senior attending physician make his rounds on teaching patients (patients that are managed by training physicians), he takes with him all the residents, interns and medical students on service. This can be 10-15 people (it’s a crowd) all in all.

In our culture, the attending physicians are treated like demigods, and some of them act like gods. They command fear in our hearts and strike terror, that we, mere mortals would shake and tremble in their presence. The residents would even assign us duties during this fanfare rounds. One student will be fanning the attending (it could be hot and humid in the charity wards), one student will be carrying the patient chart, an intern will be writing all the orders in the chart, and we then have to take turns on asking relevant questions (which were rehearsed!) to the attending. Of course we should be ready to answer his questions too or else we will get demerits!

Now that I am an attending physician in a teaching hospital here in the US, I am surrounded by an entourage too, when I make my rounds in the ICU. Though, I am far from being treated as a demigod, and I don’t want to be treated as one. My rounds are more relaxed and has more of a collegial atmosphere. I don’t give demerits. During my rounds, no one is shaking, except for maybe the patient whose having shaking chills from a fever.

During this month, my team includes 1 senior resident, 2 interns, 1 medical student, 1 pharmacist, 2 pharmacy students, and a respiratory therapist. Of course the nurses assigned to each individual patient will join us once we are in the room of a particular patient. Once in a while the nutritionist and the social worker will join us too.

It is nice to have all the support and expertise I can get from the team, so we will not miss anything. But it is my responsibility to keep the rounds running smoothly and efficiently, as it can be chaotic at times with a big group of people, and not to mention all the excitement going on at once in the ICU. I want to call it controlled chaos.

During weekends when we are on-call, we don’t have a big entourage when we make our rounds. I am all by my lonesome. Of course there is a resident on-call, a respiratory therapist and pharmacist available, they just don’t join me for rounds. It does not mean it takes me longer to see all the patients, in fact, sometimes I finished much faster. Go figure.