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GUEST POST: Acting Internship Week #2: Fear... sadness... comfort

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Incoming Children's National intern and recent/former GW medical student Caitlin Pedati wrote about week #1 on an Acting Internship here and about week #2 as follows: 

I had never seen a code before. Not on a kid, not on an adult. I’ve seen very sick people and I’ve seen doctors and nurses get concerned and assess serious situations (i.e. surgery trauma call). But I’d never seen a full code blue until today. I was just getting back from conference and I was going to grab lunch when my phone beeped with a message “Code Blue.”  I looked up and made eye contact with the nurse at the desk who pointed and said “around the corner, make a right.” Yes, I suppose that is where I should be heading. And even in the seconds I had to get there, I was already thinking, “ummm what can I really do here?”

Luckily even by the time I got there, there were two attendings, respiratory therapy, and several nurses. And the intern jogged into view right after I got there. So I stepped back and waited to see if there was anything that was needed and also to see how such a situation is handled. It was strange to see chest compressions actually being done on someone, never mind someone so small. I realized that after 7+ years of being CPR certified and trained to do this, not only had I never had to, I’d never even seen someone else have to.

And here it was, chest compressions on a Friday afternoon on a kid who couldn’t be more than 2 years old. I noticed the movement in the room, who called things out and how the communication moved from one person to another. I also noticed a LOT more people showed up, security, PICU, social work, and nurses and doctors galore. But it slowly became clear that were in fact TOO MANY people and we were asked to clear out and so I did.

I would say the feeling here was fear. Fear that I would not know what to do or how to help. Followed by sadness of course because I knew this child’s parent would be notified of these events shortly. Ironically, seeing the code also made me feel a little comforted. Whoever called this code was not alone in the room very long. And so even if I was to find myself in the situation of being the first to respond, I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn’t be alone for long. I think it’s important for me to familiarize myself with these kinds of scenarios because I wouldn’t want the initial fear to be paralyzing and to affect my ability to take action if (when) needed.

Note from Dr. Kind: We are thrilled for Caitlin Pedati to join our Children's National pediatric residency program as an intern in July 2012. Caitlin graduated cum laude from Georgetown and earned both a masters in public health and a medical degree in May 2012 from George Washington University. She is well published (see partial list here) and will no doubt go on to make many more contributions to the field. You can also read the completion of the series here: Week #3 and Week #4.


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