A Day at the Office

by Jeffrey Larnard, School of Medicine, Class of 2017

First Prize Winner 2015 Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award

Outpatient primary care is dull, I thought.
Obesity, Hypertension, Diabetes, I thought.

Drug addicts are unemployed deadbeats, I thought.
Well appearing 40 year old female working as a nurse manager.
We are going to have to take you down from 10 to 9 pain pills a day, I heard.
Doctor, I can’t do that
Can you find me a new primary care physician, one who actually believes me
One who actually has a backbone, I heard.
That’s up to you, I heard.

Prison guards have to be tough, maybe even invincible, I thought.
Anxious looking 29 year old male working as a maximum security prison guard.
Doctor, I just went through a break-up
I can’t stop thinking about her
I’ve started drinking again, I can’t sleep, I heard.
We can work through this, there’s a couple medications that might help
Let’s set you up with a counselor, I heard.

Preceptor mentions that he has to go get a haircut
There are patients in the waiting room
Some physicians don’t really care about their patients, I thought
My sixty eight year old preceptor walks back into the office.
Nice haircut, I said.
My hairdresser is also my patient, and she called me this morning
Her father told her he was sexually attracted to her, and she didn’t feel safe at home
I gave her a number to call, I heard.

People who engage in risky behaviors deserve the consequences, I thought.
Ill appearing 65 year old male with hepatitis C.
This patient has been hospice, only to get off, three times, I heard.
The patient gives my preceptor a card.
Look at this card, I heard.
There was a message on the inside, I saw.
I don’t know how much time I have left
But I intend to make the most of it
Without you, I wouldn’t be here, I saw.

Listening to patients is key to being a good physician, I heard.
As is knowing when to stop listening to yourself, I thought.