Personal blog

The day I saved a life….

Its almost the end of 2017. I had one of my usual brooding moments, introspecting everything I have done and failed to do. Thinking hard about a bucket list I had stashed away.

I jogged my memory to find some adventure that I accomplished. Somehow even river rafting did not quite fit the bill. To be honest I have not travelled much except for education or work. And then it came to me.

So the most exciting and fulfilling thing I ever did was, I saved a life!

I was into my second year of training. Was posted in the cardiac catheterization lab. Routine cardiac stenting was going on. I was hungry and desperately waiting for my lunch break. Thats when I heard the code blue.

As I rushed into one of the suites, a woman in her 40s was on the operating table, gasping for breath. Clearly the procedure was complicated and one of the blood vessel supplying the heart had been punctured. There were no seniors around. As an Anaesthesiologist I immediately stood at the head end. I was terrified. The cardiologists immediately started chest compressions.

I had an adrenaline rush. And being newly ACLS educated, I started what I supposed to do. I supported her with oxygen. After 3 rounds of chest compressions there was very little hope. And then her venous line access came off. We had no way of administering drugs. I decided to take charge. I handed the airway management to one of my colleagues and immediately established an access on her foot.

Once access was in, drugs given and I could intubate her. So she was adequately oxygenated. And meanwhile we got a pulse. So we attached inotropes (medicines to increase heart activity and help maintain blood pressure). Cardiologist decided to shift her to ICU, and on the way she dropped her blood pressure again. I rushed to the foot end and lifted both her legs up. (To increase blood flow to heart). It kind of helped.

We came back and resumed rest of the cases.

A week later I went to the ICU to check on some other patient. And there she was, sitting upright on the bed, having her meal and talking to her son.

It was that moment, one of the greatest moments in my life. I contributed to saving a life. I was part of the team. Nothing can beat that feeling.

Its our job profile. I know. But I feel blessed to be a part of this process.

No matter how many adventures I embark upon in the future, it will always be one of my greatest.

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Residency longus vs brevis ??

Residency should be long enough to be well trained and short enough to keep me sane!

I have transitioned from completing my residency in three intense years to now pursuing fellowship in a country which allows me to be relaxed and put in 48 hours a week. It has been quite contrasting in terms of work pattern and learning experience.

Medical education is not universally standardised. It is tailor made for each country. And hence while it may easier for people working in other fields to move to a different place for work, doctors often have to clear licensing exams to prove that their training so far has been upto acceptable standards.

I am not an expert on residency programmes world wide. Just my personal experience having worked in two different countries.

Residency brevis: short and intense!

Well having completed MD in India, I have been through the standard residency programme. 3 years, no working time limits, alternate day on calls which include straight 36-48 hour shifts, alternate weekends on call.

Pros:

1. Completion of training in 3 years.

2. High volume of cases seen and hands on experience.

3. Variety of cases due to high numbers.

4. Gaining experience to work in acute scenarios.

5. Seen many complications and learned from mistakes.

Cons:

1. Stressful and may affect health.

2. Less time for academics and Research.

3. Personal life is affected.

Residency longus: long and relaxed.

7 year residency programme with structured module based learning. 48 hours a week to be completed which includes on call rota.

Pros:

1. More structured approach to learning.

2. Time well spent of each module.

3. Personal and professional life can coexist!

4. Academics and newer research can be incorporated during training.

Cons:

1. Trainees can leave at the shift end irrespective of whether the case is completed or not.

2. Less number of cases.

3. Too stretched out residency programme.

Personally for me, I would say I loved the 3 years intense period, however I do not miss it! It made me more confident and pliable. Having learnt basics now I can concentrate on refining my skills and techniques.

Which kind of residency program would you like to be trained in?