Being a dentist in a hospital lends itself to interesting experiences. Things that you didn’t imagine yourself doing as a dentist. Things like working more than 4 days per week. And nights. And weekends. And holidays (yay for this Christmas off!). Things like rectal exams and hernia checks and being asked by physicians for your medical advice for their patients when you’ve been out of dental school for three weeks.
Luckily this month my new experiences are more in the realm of looking in ears and noses, which is usually more pleasant to me than poking in other orifices I have had to poke. And patients seem more approving and less confused seeing me as an oral surgeon in the Otolaryngology clinic (Ears Nose Throat) than on almost any of my other rotations. I feel like overall I have a better idea of what is happening with these patients and I have seen a lot of our overlapping oral surgery patients in the ENT clinic. They seem more trusting, one mom even said, “Oh, so you are the one that will be doing the tonsillectomy?” (No.) and my favorite, “Dental injections are worse than that!” (I’ve never heard that before!)
So, I finished my first month as “trauma chief.” I was on call all of November. I dispelled any current misconceptions about me being a “black cloud” (hospital slang for someone who brings in a lot of patients on call) with only 9 total trauma cases to operate on the entire month. Now, I am on the otolaryngology team for the next few months. So far this has been good. I’ve seen a few surgeries and hope to see a bunch more of what Abe will be doing. I have worked with the cleft palate team and seen a lot of plastic surgery patients.
--I’ve noticed that cosmetic patients don’t complain about injections like my dental patients do. Can you imagine, “I’m sorry, doctor, but I just HATE when I have toxins injected in my face. I think I’m allergic because I can never move my face afterwards!” They don’t seem to mind. They don’t flinch. And they leave smiling. For whatever reason, having medication that takes away pain to have a necessary procedure done is just so much more distasteful than poison injected into your face!--
And to end on more dentist in the hospital stories is one stolen from a co-resident:
He was sent to the ER to evaluate a patient having chest pain (concern for heart attack among other things) as part of the cardiology team. When he arrived the patient’s escort was suspicious of who he was. He mentioned something about how being in a teaching hospital you never know who you are talking to with so many students and interns, etc. The resident (with his badge turned around) said, “Yeah, but It’s not like they’d send a DENTIST to evaluate you for a heart attack?” Satisfied with this response, the patient and family allowed him to complete his exam.
And a similar personal experience, a patient told me she has had a lot of friends who have questioned her decision to have her care done at the university hospital. “How could you go there, you never know who will be doing your surgery!” She told me she says, “I know, you don’t! My oral surgeon did my breast cancer surgery and she did great!”
--If these stories make you worried, we are usually under very close supervision. Even if we are “only” dentists.