Before starting as a Pre-Medical Intern at Doylestown Health, the most experience I had in an Emergency Room came from online videos and binge watching hours of Grey’s Anatomy. When I thought of working in the ER, I imagined doctors rushing out of rooms and calling “code blue!” I thought that these videos had prepared me for the fast pace of emergency medicine.
However, after my first day as an intern, I realized that the Emergency Room of a community hospital is much different than that of a medical drama series. There were no codes and none of the doctors were in a rush. The medical staff in the ER took their time, sitting with each patient and thinking through their diagnosis. I noticed that the best emergency physicians were the ones who thought through each case and analyzed the individual needs of the patient.
After completing my first week in the hospital, I realized that my greatest preparation did not come from watching medical television. Instead, it came from my education at Boston College. My science professors have continually told me not to memorize the material, but to understand and apply it. I first developed this skill during a biology course called Molecules and Cells. As a freshman, I was forced to think instead of memorize. With application based exams, I learned how to apply my knowledge of cell biology to understand medical cases. This has given me an edge in the ER, as I have been able to analyze using my scientific knowledge.
My first day in the Emergency Room, a physician was explaining to me how he ordered a troponin test on a patient with an irregular EKG. From my Physiology course, I recalled that troponin is a cardiac enzyme. I thought through how measuring troponin levels would provide a diagnosis for the patient. I reasoned that if the heart muscle had been damaged, these proteins would be released. This would cause a higher level of troponin in the blood. After thinking this through and talking to the physician, I gained a better understanding of the physiological process.
It is in situations like this where I value my educational experiences at Boston College. During my time in the hospital, I will continue to apply the skills I have gained throughout my time at BC. In my internship, and going forward in my medical training, I believe these are the skills will set me apart and allow me to become a great physician.
Written by Ashlyn Byers, BC Class of 2017