“She’s tough, she went to med school in _____”

The other day, I was seeing a patient who was floridly delirious who began screaming and telling me off.

As much as it took me aback, this isn’t exactly something unusual.

In fact, in the hospital, lots of people become confused and some become aggressive like this.  I continued to calmly speak to him and redirected him.  He calmed down.  At least for a little while.

Unknown to me, the other resident and the clerk were walking by the room when this was happening.  This is apparently the conversation that followed.

Resident: Wow, that guy is pretty agitated.  Maybe we should go see if he’s okay.  He is Trisha’s, though, right?

Med student: Yes.  But still.  It sounds kind of wild.

Resident: Wait a minute…  Trisha is in there.

Med student: I hear her voice.  Should we go in and help her out?  It sounds kind of bad in there.

Resident: Nah, she went to med school in N____, she’s tough.

Med student: I suppose.  All the fishermen and drunks and rural stuff.  Are you sure?

Resident: Yeah.  See, its fine.

Both laugh at me when I come out and recount the story.

Ninja doctor. That would help with some difficult situations. Image from surbrook.devermore.net.

The thing that struck me funny about this conversation was the whole “she went to med school in N____, she’s tough,” line.

It is kind of true.  There are stereotypes sometimes for a reason.


I worked in a lot more rural settings and thus saw a lot more people on my own.  We were a smaller school, so in turn, we get a lot more one-on-one teaching and more of our own patients.

A lot of people drink there.  I don’t know it is proportionally higher, but it is an issue.  And once you have to debate through a few emerg consults with drunken patients, you learn.

Plus, at my school, we were actually coached through sessions with fake delirious patients as a part of our teaching.  And we spend a lot of time on medicine clinical teaching units during clerkship.  So, I guess I am tough.

Whether it actually makes me tougher than other people from other schools, I don’t know.

But it is good to know my colleagues at least think I can survive.

It is funny, though, because generally, we have been known for communication skills or some of the nice fuzzy stuff.  At least that is what I have been told.  Not for our secret ninja skills.

Image from lostsarawakdoc.blogspot.com.

I don’t ooze toughness.  One of the same guys teased me the other day that I seep sunshine and rainbows out of my butt.  Also true.  But, I can hold my own in a difficult situation.  Maybe partially because of the sunshine and rainbows, but also because I can switch on an intense seriousness.

I guess I am tough in the able to handle getting crap from people in a clinical setting kind of way.  I would just never really think of it as based on the geography of my med school.

The whole thing cracks me up a little.

13 thoughts on ““She’s tough, she went to med school in _____”

  1. Food, fun, Cranium! Nerd residents unite!! Snickers, all the nurses think we are “studying” to which I replied, “Nope. Just a social evening of good fun, awesome people, and boardgames!”

    See you shortly. 🙂

  2. loved the second cartoon. It does come in handy on occasion when your tough reputation proceeds you..(even though it might be “slightly” embellished) I have a nephew who to this day thinks I’m a bad $@#.. (because his dad told him so) I’ve decided to let him live w/ that illusion ..it has come in handy more than once.

  3. My mom went through something like this several months ago. While in the hospital for neutropenia and a subsequent bladder infection,she became very paranoid, angry, combative, delusional, etc. She was a completely different person for about 15 hours. I heard my dear, sweet mother say words that I wouldn’t even think she’d know, let alone say out loud. She thought the doctors and nurses and all of us were out to get her. She kept ripping her IV out and would not cooperate at all. It came to a point where the nurses had to restrain her and give her an injection to calm her down.

    It was probably the worst day of my life, but the medical staff were all so calm and kind throughout the whole ordeal! Thank God that when she woke up the next day she was back to her own sweet self!

    • When people get sick, the whole delirium thing happens often. Especially when they get really sick like your Mom was.
      I think, when you work in medicine long enough, you see it often enough to know that it isn’t the person’s real personality when all of it is happening. It is frightening to watch when it is someone you love. But, you get used to it when you see it happen from time to time.
      Patrick’s grandmother had a terrible delirium due to a bladder infection one time and she saw tigers in the corners of the rooms and other frightening things. A few days later, once the infection settled, she was back to her lovely self. I knew what the problem was and it was still a bit scary.
      I am glad your Mom got back to herself so quickly!

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