I recently did a preceptorship in a local ER. This is an opportunity when you shadow a physician or a team of physicians, such as an attending, residents or fourth year medical students, for the day. In some cases, you might help take patient histories and do other tasks, but for the most part you are observing and asking questions.
The attending took me on a tour of the department and explained the intake procedures, including the use of the trauma and stroke alarms. During the day, I stuck around with an intern and a couple of fourth year medical students.
It was an eye-opening experience. Not because I witnessed a trauma or saw a doctor stitch up a patient. I’d volunteered in a small, community hospital off and on for a few years, so it wasn’t new to see an ER in action.
What was different was my new role. As a volunteer, my job, as I saw it, was to help as much as I could, but, above all else, stay out of the way. It became apparent I still have this mindset.
Sometime during the day, one of the fourth year students mentioned that I needed to respond whenever I heard the trauma alarm.
“Oh, yeah,” I thought. “I’m now part of the care team.” It didn’t occur to me that I needed to respond.
It’s a very different world I’ve entered into! This new role is going to take some getting used to.