I want to write a book about the modern intern experience, a successor to The House of God, if you will. I’m going to call my book Seaport General. It’s about a young intern named Troy, who is starting his internal medicine training at a fictional university-affiliated community hospital in Boston’s posh Seaport district. In this book, set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing would, Troy learns what it means to become a doctor in the 21st century.
Troy grew up in an affluent suburb in New Jersey, and he always wanted to be a doctor. His mom, an ophthalmologist, had warned him about the rising cost of malpractice insurance and lower reimbursements that he would have to expect, but she was still very proud of him when he decided to follow his dream. He went to medical school in California, but because his workload had been light since Match Day, he had had plenty of time to move back east before starting residency.
Following a ten-day orientation complete with extensive Epic training, talks on resident wellness, and some team-building exercises, he started his year on an endocrinology elective. It was nice not to have to work any weekends for the first month, and the fellow would usually let him go home early.
His first wards month went well, too. He was paired with an anesthesia prelim, and the resident, David, was great. David was an experienced third-year categorical resident eyeing a job as a hospitalist. He was no Fat Man, but he would occasionally put in orders or write an H&P for Troy on a busy call day. David was also good about reminding Troy to transition his patients to oral antibiotics and put in physical therapy orders so that they could be discharged on time. The team usually finished rounds before noon conference, and if they didn’t, the attending would just go see the last patients on her own while the team got pizza and listened to a lecture on osteoporosis. Troy did have to spend a fair amount of his day writing progress notes, and while nobody ever talked about buffing the chart anymore, he found early on that smart phrases and copy-pasting saved him a lot of time.
Troy was also finding some time to enjoy life outside the hospital, too. One of his co-residents had started a class Facebook group, and people were always organizing happy hours and other social activities. Troy had also recently started going out with a girl named Sherry, a consultant he had met on an app. They weren’t official yet, but she seemed nice and usually texted him back. There was also a nurse, Holly, whom he was kind of into, but he knew better than to risk being the subject of hospital gossip.
Overall, it was a pretty good year, and Troy was learning a lot about himself and about how to be a better doctor. For example, if he was efficient during the day, he often had time to do a few MKSAP questions and watch Netflix when he got home. His presentations had gotten better, and he wasn’t forgetting to ask about family history and code status quite as often. He still always got lost trying to find the chest radiology reading room, but he usually just looked at the reports anyway …
So that’s my book. Would anybody want to read it?
Eric R. Gottlieb is an internal medicine resident.
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