Happy Thursday y’all (and also happy October… my favorite month ever!). I’m wrapping up my 2nd week on my Emergency Medicine rotation so I thought it was time for a PA school update. I haven’t been posting as much lately because I’ve been working 10-hour days, most of which are right in the middle of the day, and honestly I’m just tired! However, somehow I got super lucky and got all Fridays and Saturdays off this rotation. #Winning. Anyway, today will make my 8th day in the ER and I’d have to say it’s going pretty well. I’m finishing my 5-day stretch with a 5pm – 2am shift and then it’s TGIF!
Some days I work at “big Wake” and others are spent at the surrounding ERs. There are several “free-standing” ERs in the Raleigh area, which basically have everything except an attached hospital. Contrary to popular belief, the emergency room isn’t all gunshot wounds and heart attacks. We see anything from lacerations and skin infections to kidney stones and headaches. One great thing about the ER is you have pretty much everything at your disposal. You can order labs and x-rays/CT scans and get results within hours (or sooner) which helps you come to your diagnosis much faster.
Here are some highlights from my first two weeks in the ER:
Lots of people come to the ER for toothaches and most haven’t seen a dentist in 20-something years. Note: I am not a dentist. You have to remember that a lot of these patients are uninsured so our job is to help them until they can get into a dentist (aka antibiotics and pain meds). I was pretty excited about my first dental block… aka numbing a tooth like when you get a filling. Needle + long-acting numbing medicine = instant pain relief. Everybody wins!
Pelvic exams. Oh boy. Lots of complaints with the lady parts, pregnancy problems, STD checks, and the list goes on. Definitely getting some practice for my OB/GYN rotation… that speculum can be tricky! I have to say though, this isn’t my favorite procedure, but it’s definitely becoming easier with more practice.
Lacerations are always fun (for me at least). I really like procedures and these are things that take practice and time to become more comfortable, so I try to see as many as I can. On my first day I sewed up a scalp and a forehead- they were pretty straightforward. The other day I had a girl who flipped her car two times and had a huge hole in her elbow full of dirt and God knows what. That was a really complex wound and took quite a while to clean out and suture.
Yesterday I got to run over to the trauma bay and see a patient who had a MVC (read: car accident) be evaluated by the trauma & surgery team. One big, hot room with lots of people doing a million things. At WakeMed Raleigh, there are 4 different areas of the ER and my shifts aren’t on the “trauma” side, but it was still cool to go watch.
Believe it or not people come to the ER for medication refills, chronic knee pain, and to find out the sex of their baby. Although these complaints may not be “emergent,” our job is to always think about what could be life-threatening and rule that out. I don’t know if this is somewhere I would work straight out of PA school, but I do like the environment. Lots of people around and you get to work with several other providers. It’s definitely keeping me busy and I’m learning (and seeing) a lot of interesting cases.
As soon as 2am hits, it’s off to bed and then I head to Charlotte for the weekend! I’m so very excited to see my main squeeze and my girls- we’ll all be running in Race for the Cure. Thanks for reading & hope y’all have a great day!