AUSTIN, Texas – (Jan. 7, 2013) – The January issue of Austin Monthly features a photo essay on medical residents working at University Medical Center Brackenridge and other Ascension Seton hospitals. The residents participate in the University of Texas Southwestern’s residency programs at Seton. Part of the story and three photos are posted on the magazine’s website. To see the other photos and read the rest of the story, you need to buy the magazine, which is available at Whole Foods, Central Market, HEB, Bookpeople, Barnes and Noble and other places where magazines are for sale.
Below is a portion of the story and several of the photos.
Patients & Virtue: An inside look at what life is like for doctors-in-training at the University Medical Center at Brackenridge
Story By Sarah Thurmond/Photography by Lance Rosenfield
It’s 9:30 a.m. at the University Medical Center at Brackenridge. First-year residents Dr. Bessy Eapen and Dr. Brandon Childers, third-year resident Dr. Yan Liu and supervising attendant Dr. Beth Miller meet in the hallway outside a patient’s room. It’s time for rounds, when a team of two first-year residents, known as interns, and an upper-level resident report on their patients to a faculty member. Each team treats up to 16 patients a day.
Liu begins listing the symptoms of the first patient, a homeless man recently admitted to the hospital. It’s an extensive list: “… questionable kidney problems, coughing, shortness of breath …” After some discussion, the team looks at an X-ray of the patient’s lungs.
“What do you see there, future radiologist of America?” says Miller, directing the question to Childers, who is in UMC’s transitional program, where a resident spends a year rotating through different programs before going into his or her chosen specialty. Childers answers, and after some back and forth with Miller, it’s concluded that the patient has bilateral pneumonia.
Observing the rounds are two medical school students. They’re at Brackenridge interviewing for next year’s residencies. It’s a process that occurs every year between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1. Medical students apply and get matched at different, highly competitive programs through the Electronic Residency Application System. For the internal medicine program at Brackenridge, there were 3,200 applications submitted for 20 positions in 2012. As of November, the new emergency medicine program had 1,100 applicants for next year. There are only eight spots available.
During rounds, the medical school grads take an opportunity to get the real scoop from Eapen. “Do you still have clinic?” one asks. “Yes, once a week,” Eapen says. “And how’s the food?” asks another. “It’s actually really good,” she says before the group heads into a room to check on another patient.
Eapen’s and Childers’ shifts start earlier in the day, usually around 7 a.m., when the night residents hand off patients to the new shift, providing them with updates and any information on newly admitted patients. After rounds, the residents will either have conference time with a faculty member or do “clinicals,” office visits with patients. The first-year residents’ days won’t end until 5:30 or 6 p.m.
While still grueling, gone are the days of the 36-hour shift. Hours vary based on the program. Because of the intensity of the work, emergency department residents work nine-hour shifts with one-hour overlap during hand-offs. Internal medicine residents can be on the job for up to 16 hours, longer for second- or third-year residents.