Doctors come from different backgrounds, and we all start medical school with various life experiences. Few people know that I actually started off life as a journalism major. I wanted to write about other people and their life stories. I wanted to travel and photograph what the world had to offer. Then, having lost my journalism job and getting hired at a nursing home as a receptionist, I ended up doing CPR for the first time. Two years later, I was applying to medical school.
After four years of medical school, three years of surgical residency, and three more years of emergency medicine residency later, I became a doctor writing stories and charts about other people and their current events. Instead of the Taj Mahal, I photographed abscesses and blast wounds for teaching purposes. Through it all, I said I enjoyed the back story as much as the actual medical reason they came to the hospital because then you write histories like this:
“Patient presents to the ED as a trauma after an MVC. The patient was the belted passenger in a U-Haul truck that rolled over on the interstate when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. They were traveling from the central part of the state and had everything they owned in the rental truck because they were headed north “looking for a brand new start.” Their cat is still missing as it jumped out of the truck cabin after the crash.”
“Patient absconded from the emergency department after initial evaluation and while awaiting test results. It seems the patient had his car ‘stolen’ from the parking lot after his ‘date’ from last night demanded payment. Patient stated he had to leave the ED to go to his hotel room to get her a check so he could get his car back. He said he would try to get back.”
“Patient presents to the ED as a trauma after being struck by a vehicle. EMS reports it happened in the hospital parking lot. It seems the patient was with a female ‘enjoying themselves’ when his son discovered them together. The son then subsequently took his own vehicle and crashed into the patient’s car causing damage to the driver’s side. It seems the female, who was the son’s girlfriend, was out of the vehicle and seen running across the parking lot at the time of the accident and was not injured.”
“Patient presents to the ED as a trauma after being struck by their own vehicle. It seems the patient was on their way to their car mechanic and was seen by witnesses to crash into various road signs. Their mechanic was concerned about their sobriety and drove them home. They then got into another vehicle and crashed into a mail truck parked in front of their home. They backed up, running up on the curb. They didn’t think their vehicle was drivable, so they got out of the vehicle, leaving it in drive. The vehicle started rolling forward and ran over them.”
This is the part of emergency medicine I like best. Because what is a story without a little history behind it?
Veronica Bonales is an emergency physician.