Trust in the White Coat

Medical culture is a weird yet powerful force that bonds together those who practice medicine.  From the SOB in bed 2 to the frequent-flyer out in the waiting room, the connection that we get by speaking our medical lingo brings out a special bond  of the medical culture.  Its a large, sub-culture, and like many sub-cultures we have our different rules and lingo.  I would even argue that within our large medical sub-culture we have many many different smaller ones inside that.  Nurses, techs, doctors, etc.  And even among the doctors their tends to be this imaginary dividing line between specialties.

As a new resident, I’ve found it odd that the same day I’ve earned my long white coat, was also the same day the culture around me changed to the point where it was considered a “newbie” move to wear the long white coat around.  I was quickly made fun of for wanting to flaunt around the fact that now I was actually an MD.  It was a very odd feeling.

However, I have stood my ground, and continued to wear the long white coat despite what my fellow residents say.  While I admit, a large part of wearing the coat is for the extra pockets, I do enjoy the fact that it took me many years to earn it, and I do see it as a sense of pride.  But more-so, it turns out in the literature that the long white coat is actually a non-verbal way of instilling confidence, trust, empathy, and establishing a good doctor patient relationship. For proof please see the references below.



Handbook of Neurosurgery by Greenberg

Those in the neurosurgery circles are pretty excited about Dr. Mark Greenberg’s new edition of the Handbook of Neurosurgery hitting shelves soon.

Dr. Greenberg, a neurosurgeon and director of neurosurgery in Florida, is most widely known for his work producing this book.  This book has been considered by many in the neurosurgery world as the “bible” of neurosurgery.  Every student who is interested in neurosurgery is advised to get one, every neurosurgery resident has one close, and every neurosurgery attending has at least a couple sitting on his bookshelf.

Just today, Dr. Greenberg on his blog posted a contest with the prize being a free copy of his newest edition.  I threw my name in the hat and I won!

I never won a contest before.  I feel awesome!

The Hitchhiker

An older Native American man was sitting atop of an instrument case, probably the perfect size for a trumpet.  His clothes were ragged and dirty, he squinted into the sun as the fudge bar he consumed melted quietly all over his hands.  Another large camping backpack draped his bony shoulders.  He hadn’t showered in weeks, and he was looking for a friend at a small gas station in Waubay, SD.  

I was filling up gas at this small gas station, partly because I had less than a quarter tank with a little over an hour left of driving, partly because I really needed to pee.  As I started to walk into the gas station a man who looked like he was in his early 50s, but due to his sun aged skin looked much older, wanted to ask me a favor.  

“Excuse me sir!  Excuse me, would you come over here please?”  

“What can I do for you?”  I asked in a hurried manner. 

“If I gave you five dollars, you think you could drive me to Webster?”  

“Uh, I’m not from around here.  I have no idea where Webster even is.”

“It’s just 10 miles west, you are going west right?  It’s just the next town over.  Please.”

“Ok sure.”

“OH THANK YOU!”  The man reaches out and shakes my hand leaving warm melted fudge bar all over it.  “I knew someone would come!  You see, I am a traveling musician, and…”

“Sir! Sir!  Ok ok, I really need to pee so… I’m going to go in and use the restroom.”

“Oh sorry, ok.”

With that, I go into the Waubay gas station/restaurant/hardware store to use the facilities.  On the way out, the gas station staff glare out the window.

“Is he packing up?” says one of the attendants

“Looks like it,” answers the other.  “I told him to get the hell out of here.”

“Where do you think he’s goin?”

“Don’t care, just as long as he’s out of here.”  

I rush by trying not to make eye contact, but at the same time wondering why I should be feeling ashamed.  My hitchhiker was packed up and ready to go.  

“Sir, are you still going to give me a ride?”

“Sure sure,” I say.  “Hop in lets go!”

“I am a traveling musician.  See this case?  I painted it myself.”  

“Wow looks good.”

“Looks scary.  Why would someone paint that?  I don’t know.  I am a musician you know.  Can I put this case in here?  I travel around and play music.  Mind if I open the window?  I think I’m going to get some sleep.  So where are you going?”

“Well, actually I’m driving to Aberdeen to stay with a friend.”  

“Oh me too.  I’m going to Aberdeen.  Great town.  College town.  They drink a lot out there.  We should be there in about an hour.  I’m going to get some sleep is that ok?”  

“Oh sure.”  I nod over at him as I continue down the road.  I guess he wants to go to Aberdeen.  Why the hell not, he is already in the truck.  A few minutes go by, and he sits up.

“You know I am a traveling musician,”  he says.

“Yeah.  You were just telling me.”

“I travel around, and play music.”

“What instrument do you play?”

“All of them.  I’ll play you a song.”  He pulls out an old harmonica, and plays a cool blues tune for about a minute and puts it away.  Then waves to the horses we pass by, yelling out hello to them.

“So… What kind of instrument do you have in the case back there?”

“What?  Oh.  No instrument in there.  That case is full of poe
ms.  I’m a poet.”

“Uh huh.  You don’t say?”  

“Aberdeen, great college town.  Good town.  We should be there in about an hour.”

By this time I’m really having second thoughts about having this guy in the truck.  At this point, we had already past Webster, and I felt like I was past the point of no return.  Better hurry and get to Aberdeen.  

As we pull into Aberdeen, he request to be dropped off at a convenience store.  Then downtown.  Then he wants me to stop at a convenience store, then bring him downtown.  I tell him that the nearest gas station is the best I can do.  We pull into the first Shell Gas Stop, and I get out of the truck.  I start pulling his stuff out of the back, and he gets the picture.

“Good luck on your adventure,”  I tell him.  “It was good meeting you, good luck to you.”

“Uh, thanks…” he mumbles.  “I’ve got a favor to ask you.”

“What’s that?”

“Think you could spare me $5 dollars?”

Intro To Private Pilot

Are you curious how much it costs to start working on your private pilots license? Here’s my personal numbers.

Discovery Flight (Is this something you actually want to do? Or is flying over-rated?) = $92.56
Book Kit (Includes classroom CDs with video lectures, pilot tools, textbook, and bag) = $344.75
Third Class Medical Physical (Are you physically fit enough in the eyes of the FAA?) = $148.00
Grand Total: $585.31

So there it is all out in the open. What it cost me to start working on my private pilot’s is just under $600. Quest Aviation in Tea estimates my final cost will be in the neighborhood of $6200. Stay tuned to find out how close that approximation actually is.

Finally, fun update – currently logged 18.5 hours of overall flight-time. Currently 2.8 of those hours are solo, and 1.6 hours are simulated instrument flight. I’ll be keeping you posted on how my cross-country flights go!