First Call Day
I came home from BC on a Sunday at 1am, and on a Tuesday at 7am I started my first call-day shadowing an obstetrician. I was tired.
Even though we are told the timing of the placement and that we are shadowing an OB for a month, midwifery students in the MEP get little instruction on exactly how these placements run. Like, zero.
All I knew was that my shift started at 8am on Tuesday. Schedule and expectations turned out to be different things, however – while call started at 8am, hand-over began at 730am, and, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday there were also teachings for students at 7am. Luckily, I had asked a fellow classmate about her experience, and she advised me to show up early. So there I was, at 7am-not-8am, sitting on a couch next to some med student, learning all the things.
On that first call day I scrubbed into my first C-section, held retractors, suctioned during surgery, caught 2 babies vaginally (one through meconium with my left hand), took cord gases, and documented delivery notes. I felt awesome!
The next two days were clinic days where my OB let me bring clients into the rooms, answer their questions and assess them clinically all before she even came in the room herself. Quite a lot of trust she put in me on that first day, but she would tell me later she knew from the first day that I could do it. Not really sure how, but she did. Scary and exciting at the same time; no one had every left me alone before!
Naturally, just as things were going awesome, I then proceeded to get myself yelled at by nurses during a C-section for being terrible at scrubbing in. I had to repeat-scrub three times for that C-section before I did it the right way. So embarrassing, I swear I’m not stupid! No one has ever taught me how to scrub into do a surgery before!
Solution-oriented to a fault, I took it upon myself to practice how to tap-tap-tap the towel in a downward fashion in the residents lounge before the next C-section … just in case.
Overall it was a fun placement and I sure did learn how to have a spine in health care. The medical schooling system is no joke, with the residents acting very competitive and direct. It pushed me hard to keep up, even though no one has ever taught me anything about complicated birth histories and presentations. I felt stupid most of the time, but I always tried to absorb all the knowledge that I could. I think I held my own.
I learned to give extremely concise report to the residents, who didn’t have time to listen to a long drawl, and who always had a tiny bit of feedback that you weren’t good enough. I found their environment draining, constantly having to be the best and having had read all the latest details about everything. They were always trying to stump each other, which in itself made everyone scared enough to work hard. No one likes to look stupid! You seem to have to be strong, confident, assertive, and competitive to be an OB.
When I think back to when I wanted to be that way, long ago, before my Dad, I think I could’ve done it, but I don’t think I would’ve been very happy. The pressure of being the best all the time would’ve crushed me. I’m pretty content with my career, and this placement reinforced that choice.
I don’t need to be the best, I just need to be happy.
While I didn’t feel all that happy or comfortable in this placement, I have to admit that I learned a fucking ton. I didn’t get that many deliveries after that first call day because there were too many learners and not enough delivering women, but I did cement my stretch and sweep and PAP skills, triage assessments, and documenting. Even just confident health care communication came a long way in this environment. I am really thankful for all the new skills that are now in my toolbox, and I met some good people, too!
By the end, when I was finally getting used to the medical model and the people in it, it ended. I’m now doing a labour and delivery set in Brantford and I’m loving it! My nurse preceptor is wonderful, so stay tuned for adventure stories from there.