Although I have known for some time that I wanted to specialize in Internal Medicine, I was still unsure whether I wanted to work in a hospital or a clinic. However, after only a few rotations I am fairly certain that a hospital is where I need to be. Here are just a few of the reasons why I love inpatient medicine.
1. Patients are really sick. I’ve always wanted to work with sick patients, which seems obvious since I’m going to be a doctor. But some specialties work with relatively healthy people, such as Ob/Gyn or Family Medicine. It sounds weird to say that those patients aren’t “sick enough” for me, but really, they aren’t. Working with patients in the hospital really is about life or death a lot of the time. Patients present with pneumonia, kidney failure, heart attacks, etc. The patients are very sick, and I enjoy being able to help them get better.
2. You get to see the same patients every day. On day one of my Internal Medicine rotation, I hated it. All the patients were new patients. But the next day, we had the same patients. And we followed many of our patients every day during their stay in the hospital, adding one or two new patients each day as we discharged others. I loved being able to build a relationship with my patients. I was even sad when we discharged them because I wouldn’t get to see them every day. It’s a different kind of relationship than Family Medicine, where you often follow patients for years, but I really enjoy it.
3. You get to see results. If you order a lab, you get to see the results the next day. If you change a patient’s medication, they usually show improvement the next day. In outpatient medicine, sometimes you won’t get a chance to see if your patient is improving for months. But in inpatient medicine, patients get better before your eyes.
4. You get to work with other doctors. One of my favorite things about working in the hospital was getting to work with other physicians. I could see the camaraderie between my preceptor and the other hospitalists. Getting to work closely with other physicians allows a physician to learn from them. You can consult with a pulmonologist or cardiologist on one of your patients and they can explain to you what they recommend. I really enjoy that. And most of the doctors were friends. They would eat lunch together and hang out after work. I think it would be fun to form those relationships, much like the relationships I have formed during medical school. It is fun to spend time with people who are also passionate about medicine and who enjoy talking about it.
5. You can make a difference. This applies to all areas of medicine really, but when people are sick you really have a unique opportunity to help them. And – the sicker they are, the greater the impact you can make. Listening to my patients talk about my preceptor and how wonderful they thought he was showed me how much of a difference you can make in the lives of your patients. If someone is really sick and you help them get better, they are probably going to remember you. I just hope that I can be that to my patients someday.