Thursday, November 16, 2017

Counting the days

ECG reading
Walter, Agnes, and Micah. 

ECG reading
Tyson and Walter.

ECG reading

Each month, depending on where we rotate, we read a pile of ECG tracings. The ECG room is on the first floor of the PGH Main Building, beside the section of Medical Oncology, just on one's way out to the Out-Patient Building.

I can't imagine being as great as Dr. Ramon Abarquez, our professor emeritus and once my service consultant in Service 1, who diagnosed obesity or gallbladder stones through ECGs alone. Making sense of the lines inside the tiny red squares was a daunting experience for me as a medical student, but by constantly reading ECGs, I think I've gotten better at them.

In first year residency, before I left for home (assuming I could), the ECG room was a haven where I could sit undisturbed inside some of the most powerful air conditioning in the hospital (the chilled air comes from the same machine as the Central ICU on the second floor). I considered it a brief respite from the humidity and noise and action of Wards 1 and 3.

Last week I read my last ECG tracings as a Gen Med senior. I took my students with me: I've made it my mission to teach them the basics of ECG, so at least they'll recognize somebody with a heart attack and save a life.

Writing about my "lasts" sounds so premature when I still have a month to go before residency actually ends, but reading those ECGs is something I'll miss when I'm done.


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