Dr. B

Because Beth Israel is a Harvard Medical School (HMS) teaching hospital the doctors on the HEMONC unit rotate each week. There are five rotations of different ‘attendings’ (head honchos) and even more fellows (doctors receiving specialized training in Hematology/Oncology), lastly there is an intern who has a 6-week rotation on the unit. The attendings specialize in Hematology/Oncology and most of mine have been here longer than I’ve been around, it’s hard not to feel like they know what they’re doing. The fellows have made a conscious decision to specialize in this field and while they tend to be much younger and earlier along in their careers my experiences have been almost entirely positive. That said, they change every 6 days and on Monday I meet an entirely new team (for the most part) with different styles and levels of involvement – in a lot of ways I think it forces me to be more involved in my treatment which is a good thing, but it does leave one wanting for a little continuity.

So I come to the intern, Dr. B. Now Dr.B is the earliest into his MD out of anyone charged with my care, arguably the least experienced and his time on the HEMONC unit is just a rotation in a schedule, not something he chose but something he had to do. The RNs tell me that of the rotations this can be the hardest on the interns because the medicine is so specialized and patients can turn on a dime making it that much more stressful for someone who may not have had such sick patients before. However, the interns are here for 6 straight weeks providing that continuity which is so lacking when you meet new teams of doctors every week.

Before even reaching the HEMONC unit when I was still in the ER, Dr.B was one of the two doctors who gave me my diagnosis. I found out later that he was less than a few days into his rotation and I was the first intake he was a part of. At the time I was in pretty rough shape and I imagine I was one of those patients that an intern might dread when beginning a blood cancer rotation. Over the last 33 days Dr.B has been in to examine me and answer my questions every single morning and afternoon in addition to the usual rounds he does with the rest of the team. While I may get all of 5 minutes with the team of doctors to get questions answered, when things change during the day or I get results back and need to talk to a doctor it’s been Dr.B who’s been available and frankly very upfront with me about what I need to know. Most refreshing are the times when he honestly admits that he has his opinion but “we’ll bring it up with the team and get they’re view on it.”

It can be frustrating when a doctor who you’ve only had for a few days comes in and asks you “how are the mouth sores feeling today?” When if you’d read through my medical history you’d know that even when I had really nasty mucositis I never had any goddamn mouth sores. Little things I know (and every bit of my care has been spectacular) but Dr. B not only knows I never had any mouth sores, he remembers the day I first developed mucositis and every single day of it’s treatment. I trust him implicitly at this point and have a easier time communicating with him knowing that we share a common understanding of my history and treatment. He may have the least experience in treating other Leukemia patients, but of all my doctors (except my primary who I adore) he has the most experience treating me.

Well, it turns out today is going to be Dr. B’s last day on the ward, off to bigger and better things. I feel far more in control of my own care at this point and I feel I have a better understanding of how the system works in this hospital – when I need to push back for things and when I need to trust the staff. I can’t think of the right way to express my gratitude for everything that he’s been able to do for me and I hope that this experience has as much of an impact for him and his career as it has for my treatment and new life living with cancer. I think his effectiveness as a critical part of my care only speaks to what incredible things HMS and BIDMC are doing to train world class doctors, I’m lucky to benefit from it.

Thanks Dr. B

– Austin

  1. No comments yet.

  1. No trackbacks yet.