Aug 31, 2012

General Pediatrics at Taipei MacKay Memorial Hospital

Out of 2 years of clinical clerkship and 1 year of internship we're only allowed 1 month in another hospital besides the chain of Tzu Chi General. We all complained, lobbied, and spoke to various medical education personnel about the rigidity of our clerkship program and how it is stifling potentials but nobody paid any attention because we're the algae of the medical food chain.
One month is still better than nothing, some said.
Interested in pediatrics, I filled in one month of MacKay Memorial Hospital without a second thought.
Summer is the peak travel season in Taiwan with occasional unpredictable typhoons upsetting travel plans throughout. On July 31st I battled intermittent downpours to get on the train headed for Taipei, with wet laundry hanging at home in front of the fan.
The first 2 weeks were a shock for me. I had no resident covering me, I'm holding at least 7 patients, and daily turnover is overwhelming. Everyday seemed like a daze to me and it'll be 5 pm when I realize I had 3 more patients I haven't seen. It was during those tough days that my friends from National Defense Medical University, Eddie and Elaine, helped out the most - covering me for trivial orders and helping out with patient complaints.
After our junior residents came to work (officially), work got so much organized. I could complete all my clinical work before lunch and spend the afternoon curled up at the library on 15th floor reading up for the USMLE.

The library of MMH has an excellent view of Taipei city which I enjoyed especially at night. During call nights, we would curl up in the intern call room to talk about nurses (mainly), our (moronic) universities, and a thousand ways hospitals abuse interns and residents. Of course there were tough call nights when I admitted 5 infants in one shot from 5 to 7 am, and almost fainted from not eating breakfast.
Workload aside, MMH residents are very friendly and enthusiastic to students. Coming from a wide range of medical schools and backgrounds, they are the most interesting people to talk to, even about non-medical issues. A few young attendings I got to know are also extremely accommodating and would just sit and talk to us with no bars hold.
I enjoyed the convenient albeit expensive life in Taipei with weekend outings and gatherings with lots of interesting people. Will really take some time tuning back to the slow pace of Hualien when I get back, but otherwise I would really look back this month with fond memories and the profound awakening for what everything we seem to take for granted in Hualien.
Coming up is 3 months of internal medicine with an average of 7 call nights per month. I don't know if I'm ready for the tedious and meticulous life of an internist and whether my momentum for the USMLE would be distracted, guess we'll find out soon enough. In the meantime I will try to enjoy the last weekend of pediatrics, and storing this month's memories for use during a tired and hectic call night in the fall.